From the Pastor’s Desk

October 17 – Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Being a doctor and a deacon, Fr. Don has asked me to write to update you on the latest information concerning the prevention of COVID-19.

The only ways to help decrease the spread of COVID-19 is with distancing yourself by six feet from other people, wearing a face mask, adhering to hand washing hygiene, and receiving one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines.  Vaccination seems to be the part that is causing the most controversy, understandably, given the rapid rate at which it was introduced to the public.  The pandemic nature of the disease and how quickly it spread across the globe necessitated the need for an accelerated release timetable. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson are the only three vaccines approved/allowed to be used within the United States.  This is since they are the only ones that have not been manufactured using fetal stem cells.  This is extremely important to understand, especially as Christians and Catholics.  When the claim is made that no genetic material is used in the production that means just that.  The vaccine is completely free of any genetic material from, or fetal stem cell tissue of, a previously aborted fetus.  It is important to understand that in the United States, it is completely illegal to use aborted fetal stem cells in the development of any vaccine.

Another ethical and scientific point to clarify is that the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines do not interact with a person’s DNA.  When the vaccine is introduced into the human body, our white blood cells see the foreign material and will attack and engulf the mRNA particles.  Once inside the cell, it transforms only that individual cell to mimic the COVID-19 virus.  Once all the vaccine particles are engulfed, another set of white blood cells sees these transformed white blood cells as foreign and attacks them.  This how we form antibodies and develop immunity to the COVID-19 virus.  At no time does the mRNA interact with our core DNA. Additionally, while the mRNA technology is new to vaccine production, the science has been present for approximately the last ten years in the development of cancer medications.

I have spoken to the scientific aspects concerning vaccine to help bring clarity.  For the religious and ethics, I will leave that to our Holy Father, Pope Frances.   In short, he also recognizes the enormity of the decision to be vaccinated and calls upon all Catholics to consider the ethics and impact your decision to be, or not to be, vaccinated will have on society.  He asks all Catholics to consider our fellow brothers and sisters health when making our decisions.  He even goes as far as to call it a Corporal Work of Mercy to be vaccinated.  Meaning we are performing this act not for ourselves, but for the potential health and wellbeing of our neighbor.  When we perform corporal works of mercy, we are placing our desires aside for the sake of others.  To read for yourself, you can visit the Vatican website, or simply search ‘Pope Francis COVID-19 video’ on YouTube.

Peace,

Deacon Tony

 

 

From the Pastor’s Desk

October 10 – Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The theme of today’s gospel is obviously detachment.  We are told that a man ran up to Jesus and asked him, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus tells him to obey the commandments.  The man responds that he has done that since his youth.  Jesus, looking at him, loved him, as he does us, and said to him….”You are lacking in one thing.  Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come follow me.”  At that statement the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. It is hard to give up those things we treasure.  Our possessions sometimes possess us!  And it’s not only material things…..we sometimes can’t let go of grudges, attitudes, silly traditions, our pettiness, etc.  Jesus goes on to say how hard it is for those with wealth to enter the kingdom of God.  It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich.  Amazed, the disciples ask, who can be saved?  Jesus tells them, and us who can’t let go of our possessions, that for human beings it is impossible, but not for God.  This means that if we cooperate with God’s grace, we will be so overwhelmed with God’s love, that it will be possible to let go of our possessions.  Try it!

Today is my 40th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood….October 10, 1981.  Continuing with the gospel of today, Peter says to Jesus that “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus responds saying “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age….”

In 40 years of priesthood, I have seen this scripture passage fulfilled in my life!  I give praise to God for how my life has been blessed with many parishioners in my past seven parish assignments, and now all of you at Our Lady of Mercy, who have opened your homes to me.  Been there as a mother or father, brother or sister to me in times of struggles and joys!  Have given me the opportunity to be a part of your family celebrations, neighborhood parties, and console you in times of sorrow. Through your laughter, tears, ups and downs, shared memories you have brought me closer to God.  I only hope and pray that, despite my unworthiness, you have been brought closer to God through the power given to me in my ordination to absolve you from your sins, and to feed you with the very Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

Thank you, and God Bless You!

Father Don

 

From the Pastor’s Desk

October 3 – Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Since 1972, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have designated the month of October as Respect Life Month and the first Sunday in October as Respect Life Sunday.  Unfortunately, when the topic of pro-life is brought up, most people think only of the issue of abortion or contraception.  Our bishops, by designating the entire month of October to respect life, also call us to expand our understanding of what constitutes life issues.  Opening our hearts to life means that we reject the killing of ANY human being from the moment of conception to their natural death.  So, denying life-saving treatment to those with disabilities and hastening death of the elderly and dying by assisted suicide and euthanasia are life issues.  Opening our hearts to life also means opposing the death penalty, as well as slavery, human trafficking, terrorism, domestic violence and unjust war – these too are very much life issues. Respect life month calls us to work to eradicate the conditions that prevent our brothers and sisters from realizing their full human potential.  The mystery of human life is that we, every one of us, are precious to God even as we are weak and sinful.  Pope Francis reminds us that God never stops loving us. And at our least sign of remorse, never tires of forgiving us.  Let us pray that we all may open our hearts more fully to the gift of life and dignity in each and every person!  St. Joseph, defender of life, pray for us!

Next Sunday, October 10th I celebrate my 40th anniversary of ordination.  I was ordained a priest on October 10, 1981 at the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet.  You are welcome to come to the special Mass I will celebrate at 2:00pm with a reception following.  I will also be preaching all the Masses next weekend and there will be coffee and donuts after each Mass.  I look forward to celebrating this milestone in my priestly life with my parish family of Our Lady of Mercy!

Following my anniversary Chardonnay and I are going to take a 17 day vacation.  The dog and I are driving to California.  I leave on October 12 and return on October 28.  I’ve never taken a long driving trip by myself and look quite forward to it – especially with my companion Chardonnay.  On my way back, I will be visiting Mount Rushmore as I have never been there.  I am taking 4 days driving out, and 5 days driving back.  Of course, I will be in Sonoma County, staying at St. John the Baptist rectory in Healdsburg, CA while I am out there.  My bulletin articles “From the Pastor’s Desk” for October 17, 24, and 31 will be written by guest columnists, Fr. James, Deacon Tom Logue, and Deacon Tony Leazzo.

Have a Blessed Week!

Father Don

 

From the Pastor’s Desk

September 26 – Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

An interesting phenomenon of our times is the emergence of social media.  Through websites and mobile applications, we can access Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Tumblr, Forsquare, and Pinterest, to name only a few.  It’s hard to know how many of these sites there actually are, but it would be safe to say they are in the hundreds.  Some of these sites have redefined the very meaning of friendship.  It’s possible now to have “friends” whom we’ve never met and might never meet in person.  While the ability to “connect” with others during the COVID pandemic through this technology has been helpful, the one thing I hear the most that people have missed is in person contact with other family and friends.  Our faith is a community effort requiring “real presence.”  Just as Jesus is really present in the Eucharist, we are community of “real presence” to one another.  We need to worship with one another.  With our safety protocols in place, I encourage those who have not yet returned to Mass to join us.  Facemasks are required, there are hand sanitizing stations, and an air filtration system was installed in the church last year and runs continuously.  We long to see your face!

I ask your prayers for the success of the radioactive iodine ablation treatment for my thyroid cancer I began last Monday.  This past Wednesday, I was given the radioactive iodine pill and have been in isolation since.  That’s why you don’t see me this weekend as I am in isolation at the rectory until Thursday, September 30.

I also ask your prayers for the priests of the Joliet Diocese who will be on a convocation with the bishop September 27 – 30.  The Joliet priest convocation is held every other year, and this will be the first time with our new bishop.  Due to being in isolation, I will not be able to attend.

On the cover Sunday’s bulletin on September 12th was an invite to all Our Lady of Mercy parishioners to celebrate my 40th anniversary of ordination on Sunday, October 10.  I will be preaching all Masses that weekend. I was ordained a priest on October 10, 1981.  There will be coffee and donuts after all the Masses.  I will celebrate a special Mass of Thanksgiving at 2:00pm followed by a reception in the PLC and outdoors weather permitting.  You are welcome to attend this Mass and reception at 2:00pm.  If you plan to attend this Mass, please RSVP to me at frdon@olmercy.com so we have an accurate count when we order food for the reception.  If you are attending one of the regular scheduled Sunday Masses, there is no need to RSVP.  I look forward to celebrating this milestone with my Our Lady of Mercy parish family!

Have a blessed week!

Father Don

 

From the Pastor’s Desk

September 19 – Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

An interesting phenomenon of our times is the emergence of social media.  Through websites and mobile applications, we can access Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, Tumblr, Forsquare, and Pinterest, to name only a few.  It’s hard to know how many of these sites there actually are, but it would be safe to say they are in the hundreds.  Some of these sites have redefined the very meaning of friendship.  It’s possible now to have “friends” whom we’ve never met and might never meet in person.  While the ability to “connect” with others during the COVID pandemic through this technology has been helpful, the one thing I hear the most that people have missed is in person contact with other family and friends.  Our faith is a community effort requiring “real presence.”  Just as Jesus is really present in the Eucharist, we are community of “real presence” to one another.  We need to worship with one another.  With our safety protocols in place, I encourage those who have not yet returned to Mass to join us.  Facemasks are required, there are hand sanitizing stations, and an air filtration system was installed in the church last year and runs continuously.  We long to see your face!

I ask your prayers for the success of the radioactive iodine ablation treatment for my thyroid cancer I began last Monday.  This past Wednesday, I was given the radioactive iodine pill and have been in isolation since.  That’s why you don’t see me this weekend as I am in isolation at the rectory until Thursday, September 30.

I also ask your prayers for the priests of the Joliet Diocese who will be on a convocation with the bishop September 27 – 30.  The Joliet priest convocation is held every other year, and this will be the first time with our new bishop.  Due to being in isolation, I will not be able to attend.

On the cover Sunday’s bulletin on September 12th was an invite to all Our Lady of Mercy parishioners to celebrate my 40th anniversary of ordination on Sunday, October 10.  I will be preaching all Masses that weekend. I was ordained a priest on October 10, 1981.  There will be coffee and donuts after all the Masses.  I will celebrate a special Mass of Thanksgiving at 2:00pm followed by a reception in the PLC and outdoors weather permitting.  You are welcome to attend this Mass and reception at 2:00pm.  If you plan to attend this Mass, please RSVP to me at frdon@olmercy.com so we have an accurate count when we order food for the reception.  If you are attending one of the regular scheduled Sunday Masses, there is no need to RSVP.  I look forward to celebrating this milestone with my Our Lady of Mercy parish family!

Have a blessed week!

Father Don

 

 

From the Pastor’s Desk

September 12 – Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

You have heard the expression “time flies when you are having fun” – well, 40 years of priesthood must have been lots of fun! On Sunday, October 10th I will celebrate my fortieth anniversary of ordination. On the cover of today’s bulletin is an invitation to the celebration.  I want to be sure that all parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy know they are welcome and invited to attend.  While I will be preaching all our Masses the weekend of October 9/10, I will offer a Mass of Thanksgiving on Sunday at 2:00PM followed by an outdoor reception weather permitting or in the PLC.   Also attending this Mass will be some of my family, priest friends, and parishioners from the previous seven parishes I have served before coming to Our Lady of Mercy.  To prepare adequately for the reception, I need to know how many OLM parishioners plan to attend the 2:00pm Mass and reception.  Please RSVP to me at: frdon@olmercy.com.  I hope to see many of you there!

In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks the question, “Who do people say that I am?”  There is a great opportunity starting this week for you to find your own personal answer to Jesus’ question.  Fall ALPHA starts this Thursday, September 16th.  If you have been searching, if you have questions, if you trying to find meaning in your life, then ALPHA is for you!  ALPHA is on Thursday evenings starting with a meal at 6:30pm and runs for 11 weeks.  There is no charge, just your time.  Sign up online at www.olmercy.com/alpha or contact Zara in the parish office.

In light of Jesus’ question in today’s Gospel, a British writer in the 1800’s once said: “Be careful how you live.  You may be the only Bible a person ever reads!”  Many people form their idea of who Jesus is by listening to what Jesus’ followers say and watching what they do. Many years ago, a popular Christian song posed the question, “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”  Today’s readings speak of the kinds of evidence to which true followers of Christ give witness.  Faith AND action go hand in hand.  What is one practical way you can make a difference this week in your family? In your school?  In your workplace?  In your neighborhood?

Have a blessed week!

Father Don

 

From the Pastor’s Desk

September 5 – The Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

This week on Thursday, September 9th we celebrate the memorial of St. Peter Claver.  A native of Spain, young Jesuit Peter Claver left his homeland in 1610 to be a missionary in the colonies of the New World.  He sailed into Cartagena (now in Columbia), a rich port city washed by the Caribbean.  He was ordained there in 1615.  By this time the slave trade had been established in the Americas for nearly 100 years, and Cartagena was a chief center for it.  Ten thousand slaves poured into the port each year after crossing the Atlantic from West Africa under conditions so foul and inhuman that an estimated one-third of the passengers died in transit.  As soon as a slave ship entered the port, Peter Claver moved into its infested hold to minister to the ill-treated and miserable passengers.  After the slaves were herded out of the ship like chained animals and shut up in nearby yards to be gazed at by the crowds, Claver plunged in among them with medicines and food.  With the help of interpreters, he gave basic instructions and assured his brothers and sisters of their human dignity and God’s saving love.  During the 40 years of his ministry, Claver instructed and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves.

His apostolate extended beyond his care for slaves.  He became a moral force, indeed, the apostle of Cartagena. The Holy Spirit’s might and power is manifested in the striking decisions and bold actions of Peter Claver.  A decision to leave one’s homeland never to return reveals a gigantic act of will difficult for our minds to imagine.  Peter’s determination to serve forever the most abused, rejected and lowly of all people is stunningly heroic.  When we measure our lives against such a man’s, we become aware of our own barely used potential and of our need to open ourselves more to the jolting power of Jesus’ Spirit.  Peter Claver died on September 8, 1654.  He was canonized in 1888, and Pope Leo XIII declared him the worldwide patron of missionary work among black slaves.

To continue his work of addressing the sin of racism, I encourage you to participate in a bi-lingual prayer service “Stations of the Cross: Overcoming Racism” which will be held on the memorial of St. Peter Claver, Thursday, September 9 at 6:30PM.  The service will be held at our outdoor Stations of the Cross on the west side of church.  In the event of rain it will be indoors.

People in our day suffer unjustly simply because of the color of their skin or their national origin.  Let us acknowledge the sin of racism and work to combat it in our social structures, our institutions, and our hearts!

Have a blessed week!

Father Don

From the Pastor’s Desk

August 29 – The Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus had little stomach for hypocrisy.  Few of us do.  “Hypocrite,” is one of the harshest words in our vocabulary and is reserved for people we find particularly two-faced.  One observation about hypocrites…they are usually the last to recognize that they are.  No one wants to believe they are two-faced or phony.  Most hypocrites are convinced they are perfectly honest.  When the Pharisees condemned Jesus for working miracles on the Sabbath, they believed with all their hearts they were speaking for God.  This should make us suspicious about ourselves.  Are we hypocritical and don’t recognize it?

In light of today’s readings, this question merits consideration.  In the reading from James, we are warned:  “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  Practice what you preach, James says, and don’t fool yourself that you are virtuous simply because you’re fond of virtuous teachings.  In the gospel, Jesus deplores the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.  Of what sense is their agitation over the proper washing of hands when their hearts are full of murder and hatred?

Parents often condemn activities in their teenager that they themselves have been guilty of for years.  Business people complain about the crime rates among minority groups who wouldn’t have the slightest qualms about cheating on their expense accounts or involving themselves in shady deals.  Even in religious circles, we may find some of the most conservative and fundamentalist Christians to also be some of the most bigoted and uncharitable people one could meet.  When preachers, for example, passionately put down other Christian denominations “in the name of Jesus,” don’t you wonder what “Jesus” they are talking about?

This is not to serve as a condemnation of others, but to make us aware that hypocrisy is devious and not necessarily a vice only in someone else.  When criticizing, chastising, or condemning others, we should first see if our own house is really in order.  Better yet, we follow Christ more authentically when we completely give up judging and condemning others.  And we have good reason for doing so when we consider the many ways we may be hypocrites ourselves.

The only way to avoid the charge of hypocrisy is to live our lives with integrity.  We are one-faced when we act like Jesus, no matter how difficult it might be!

Have a blessed week!

Father Don

From the Pastor’s Desk

August 22 – Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

This weekend is our parish celebration of “Reunite in Christ” welcoming everyone back to Our Lady of Mercy! It has been a long time since we have been able to gather as a parish family. While variants of COVID remain a concern, under Diocesan guidelines, we are fully open, and we fully implement safety procedures outlined by the Diocese.  I hope everyone has taken the opportunity to enjoy some activities of our “block party” celebrating our oneness in Christ.  Thanks to Doug McIlvaine who chaired the “Reunite in Christ” committee, along with the members of the committee; Fr. James, Deacon Tom, Zara Tan, Phil Zwick, Miroslava Manzanares, and Alex Baier for their efforts to celebrate our welcoming back events.

Also, I want to extend a great big thanks to EVERYONE who pulled together in meeting the challenges to put on our in-person Vacation Bible School August 2 – 6.  Thank God too for the stunningly beautiful weather we had that week!  There were 100 campers!  Thanks to the 25 adult volunteers and 45 tween & teen volunteers who worked with the kids in their various stations.  Thanks to Mary Jo, Jean Palasz, and Len Eickhoff for all the advance preparations and legwork. Thanks to Maybird D’Silva for photography.  And a HUGE thanks to our Art & Environment Committee who made all the props and created the jungle/safari/cave environment to enhance our children in discovering that they are treasure – and treasured by God!

Unfortunately, the Mission Appeal scheduled for this weekend has to be re-scheduled.  The new date is the weekend of September 11/12.  I look forward to my friend Ertha’s arrival and sharing with you her ministry of founding an orphanage and school for impoverished children outside of Duchity, Haiti.  Please welcome her and be as generous as your means allow.  Thank you!

Next weekend (except Saturday 4pm Mass), Fr. Steven Borello, our Joliet Diocesan Vocations Director will give the homily at all Sunday Masses on the theme of vocations.  As we welcome Fr. Steven, please be open to his message on how parishes and families can support vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Have a Blessed Week!

Father Don

 

From the Pastor’s Desk

August 15 – The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Bogusz is in the house!  You may remember that two seminarians from our Diocese lived several months at OLM rectory when their seminary school closed down during the COVID outbreak.  Well, one of them is back to live with at the rectory for a year.  Andrew Bogusz graduated from college seminary this past spring.  It is not unusual for some of our seminarians take a pastoral year before they continue with their formal education for the priesthood. Our Vocation Director and Andrew discerned that taking a pastoral year would be a benefit to Andrew.  During this pastoral year, Andrew is to find full-time employment to become more financially independent. Andrew has computer skills and is completing IT certification, so if you know anyone who would be able to provide him with a job for a year, please contact Andrew at: ht3p1g@outlook.com or 630.853.3676. While working fulltime, Andrew will still be involved in a few ministries such as distributing communion or lecturing.  He also plans to be part of our “Consuming Fire” group – our ministry with young adults 18 – 35.  OLM has become Andrew’s home, as his parents and siblings moved to Florida over a year ago.  We welcome Andrew and support him as he continues to prepare to become a priest.

I am away from the parish this week.  Yesterday I was in Nashville, TN to attend the wedding of Deacon Mike & Laurie Plese’s daughter Michelle. She was married at the Cathedral in Nashville, TN.  Then August 16 – 19 I will be attending a priest pre-retirement workshop held at St. Meinrad in southern Indiana.  This workshop is designed to prepare priests for a variety of new realities when they retire.  I will turn 70 in February 2022, and as many of you know, I plan to retire at the end of June 2022.  The workshop ends at noon on the 19th. I will drive to Indianapolis and stay overnight, allowing me to visit family and friends before returning in time for our OLM Block Party festivities on August 20, 21, & 22.

Speaking of the Block Party, I hope you are able to come to all or some of the festivities and events.  The Diocese of Joliet encouraged all parishes to join the “Reunite in Christ” effort, appoint a task force, and to hold a special event to celebrate the full re-opening of our parishes. I want to thank our task force chaired by Doug McIlvaine and members Fr. James, Deacon Tom Logue, Zara Tan, Phil Zwick, Miroslava Manzanares, and Doug Baier for their brainstorming and coming up with the Block Party idea.  Thanks to all who have worked with the task force to make the upcoming Block Party a reality. I look forward to seeing many of you this coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!  And remember, our party is open to the entire Aurora community, as well as your neighbors and friends!  Come, reunite in Christ!

Have a Blessed Week!

Father Don