July 14 – Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Parting is such sweet sorrow”, a quote from one of William Shakespear’s Masterpiece, Romeo and Juliet. I dread being away from Our Lady Mercy, a bosom of love and affection, friendship and communion – this is the sorrowful part. But on the flip side of it all, I know that time away will produce more longing and anticipation and more love and this is the sweet part. Our Lady of Mercy remains my home parish and I will always come back whenever I feel “home-sick”. But where did it all start from? Sometime last year (2023), while I was still in Kenya, I received an email from Fr. Michael Kearney, letting me know that once I get to the United States I will be staying at OLM as I prepare to join the Seminary in Mundelein. He described the parish community as welcoming, warm and vibrant. True to his words, when I got here, I was welcomed warmly and the vibrancy of the parish made me feel like I am in one of the parishes in Nairobi, Kenya. I felt at home right away. I remember when Bishop Hicks visited the parish in February, I could not hide my joy, I expressed my feelings of appreciation and affection to the parish and told him that being at OLM feels like home away from home.

Time flies, I can’t imagine that I am saying goodbye! I got here on the eve of the New Year and two days later I was already into the Parish ministry. I was quickly scouted and enrolled to the Hesed House PADs ministry by Maybird, a ministry I enjoyed and cherished on every first Tuesday of the month. Serving the guests at the homeless shelter as an act of corporeal work of mercy was fulfilling and it reminded me of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25:35 “…for I was hungry, and you gave Me food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink.” Then I got to learn about the other ministries in the parish:

I got involved in with the Fit Shepherds every Saturday Morning, taking Holy Eucharist to the Home Bound especially at Thrive and Alden in the company of Deacon Bugsy and “the Joes”. I served during mass – my favorite ministry. I joined the morning rosary group every morning after mass to recite the rosary. I also joined the Our Lady of Fatima Group for rosary on Saturdays; I attended the Praying with Sts. Monica and Augustine prayer group on Mondays. Occasionally, joined the Bible study and the Consuming Fire (Young Adults) groups on Tuesdays. I also joined Salt and Light as well as Vine and Branches on several occasions on Wednesdays. I joined the Parish Choir as the omega (last) member just before the summer break, what a joy to sing for the Lord! During Lent I was involved in the Rescue Project Ministry, a very transformative ministry indeed! I was also involved in the Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) Retreat, a life-changing and inspiring retreat. I joined the Knights of Columbus. I attended meetings with the Society of St. Vincent DePaul. I also attended Spanish classes taught by our Maestra Veronica, though all I can say in Spanish so far is “hola amigo” and “gracias a Dios”, thanks to my classmates! ¡Gracias Maestra, Dios te bendiga!

I would like to thank every person I interacted with in these ministries; I may not mention each one by name but from the bottom of my heart, I say thank you and may God bless you and keep you; may He make His face shine upon you and grant you and your loved ones peace and grace! In a very special way, I would like to thank all the parish staff for the support and love you have shown me. Especially, Zara, for walking with me as I enculturate into the “American Culture”. Thanks to all the parishioners who have opened their doors and invited me to join their families to break bread together, it was such an amazing moment getting to know you all. I would like to apologize for any shortcoming, any toes I stepped or any shoulder I brushed while in ‘the line of duty’. Special thanks to Fr. Michael, Fr. Frank and Jonathan for making my stay in the rectory a happy one. I will be officially leaving for Mundelein Seminary on August 10, 2024. The weekend of July 27/28 will be my last one here at OLM. As a parting shot: in today’s first reading the Lord commissions Prophet Amos to go and prophesy to His people, we are all called to prophesy in different ways. Let us do so through works of mercy, both corporeal and spiritual. When the deacon says, at the end of mass “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life” – we are commissioned to go and carry out the works of mercy! Goodbye good people, best wishes and blessings!