October 13th | Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

This is MercyFest weekend! A time to gather family, friends, and neighbors to enjoy the company of each other and thank God for the gift of our parish, friendship and camaraderie while enjoying food, fun, games and rides provided by Alpine Amusement of Naperville. In the early years of MercyFest, the goal was to raise money for paying down the debt on the church and PLC. We still owe slightly under one million on the PLC, but now the primary goal of MercyFest is building community and bringing parishioners and neighbors together – and just having fun! We even see MercyFest as an evangelization tool! Saturday evening from 7:00pm to 10:00pm is “Light the Night” in church with Eucharistic Adoration and prayer teams. We are out on the grounds with an ALPHA booth and invites!

If we do make some money, that is great! We will donate half to Hesed House and use the rest for purchasing energy efficient lighting for the gym. With profits from the last two years, we were able to purchase new sound equipment for the church and new padding for the kneelers in church.

If you have not been to MercyFest yet, it is not too late. Saturday MercyFest is open from Noon to 10:00pm. Sunday, MercyFest opens following the 10:45am Mass celebrated by our former and retired pastor, Fr. Hugh Fullmer, and closes around 8:00/8:30pm. Do not miss the “All U Can Eat Spaghetti & Meatballs Dinner” on Sunday from 4:00pm to 7:00pm!

We extend our special thanks to all our sponsors this year. Event Sponsor: Napleton’s Valley Hyundai; Platinum Sponsor: Builders Commercial Asphalt Plants; Premiere Sponsors: Klein Construction, Valley View Dental, and Lisa Byrne of Baird & Warner. Your support is deeply appreciated!

I will recognize the MercyFest chair and committee chairs in a future article when I give a report on our success of this year’s MercyFest. In the meantime, come out if you have not, and thanks to all our parishioners and guests who have supported this year’s MercyFest by your presence, volunteering and donations.

Have a blessed week!

Fr Don

October 6th | Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

The month of October is Respect Life Month. I want to thank all those who participated the 40 Days for Life 24 hour prayer vigil held outside Planned Parenthood. The prayer vigil is from September 25 through November 3. Our Lady of Mercy Parish committed to having parishioners pray at the Planned Parenthood facility on Friday, October 4 for a 24-hour period, praying for aborted children and the end to abortion. So thanks again to everyone who participated, especially in those late night and early morning hours! Thanks to our OLM Pro-Life Committee for organizing our day of prayer.

During respect life month, our bishops call us to understand, value, and help cultivate respect for human life in its entire dimension – from the womb to the tomb. Bishop Joseph F. Naumann, Archbishop of Kansas City, who is chair of the U.S. Bishop’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities writes to all Catholics: “As Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all you do to build a culture of life on a daily basis. Your efforts on behalf of the unborn, the dying, the elderly, the imprisoned, the poor and so many others have a profound impact, both now and in the life to come…While there may be opportunities for decisive political action, we know that to build a true culture of life, we must seek to change hearts and minds. And your witness is essential.”

In addition, the month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary. According to an account by fifteenth-century Dominican, Alan de la Roch, Mary appeared to St. Dominic in 1206 after he had been praying and doing severe penances because of his lack of success in combating the Albigensian heresy. Mary praised him for his valiant fight against the heretics and then gave him the Rosary as a mighty weapon, explained its uses and efficacy, and told him to preach it to others. The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is October 7.

Fr. Mark and I request your prayers for us, and all the priests of our diocese, as we will be gone from the afternoon of October 7 to the afternoon of October 10 attending the Joliet Priest Convocation in St. Charles.

Have a blessed week!

Fr Don

September 29th | Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church throughout the United States celebrates “Priesthood Sunday” as a special day to set aside to honor priesthood. It is a day to reflect upon and affirm the role of the priesthood in the life of the Church as a central one. This observance, sponsored by the organization Sera International, specifically honors priests, without whom the Mass could not be offered and Sacraments could not be celebrated.

As the 38th anniversary of my ordination approaches (October 10th), I would like to share with you some reflections on my 38 years of being a priest. From my earliest memories, I always wanted to be a priest. As a child, I would play priest. My altar was a long dresser in my bedroom; tabernacle a spray-painted gold old breadbox; chalice a gold spraypainted jar that my mom’s face cream came in; hosts were either squished mini marshmallows or Nicole candy wafers. Growing up and attending a Catholic grammar school in the 1950/60’s I was enamored with the priests and nuns and the mystery of it all. I enjoyed altar serving and helping around church.

The real call to priesthood came when I was 23. My first response was no way! I had a job and was happy with my life, but God kept nagging. I finally met with a priest about a possible vocation. Remembering past sins and pranks of college days, I told him I did not feel worthy to be a priest. He looked me in straight in the eye and said, “None of us are worthy!” With that, I felt my resistance depart. Accepted for the Diocese of Joliet, I did my seminary studies at Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wisconsin, and was ordained a priest on October 10, 1981.

In 38 years, I have served eight different parishes in our Diocese. While each of them have their unique identity and special memories for me, each also have had the same incredible love and support that have nourished me in my priesthood. Despite my faults, failings, weaknesses, personality and idiosyncrasies, I have felt so loved and accepted by many. That has been a special joy for me. Bringing even more joy has been the privilege to celebrate the Mass and nourish you with the word of God in my homilies, and the Body and Blood of Jesus who gave his life for us. Being trusted with the darkest secrets and brokenness of those who have come to me for confession has been a most humbling experience. My prayer is that I have always responded with the compassion and mercy of God. Sharing in the happy moments of a baptism, wedding, confirmation, graduation, job promotion, and just families parties has been a blessing. So too, walking the times of sadness and sorrow in parishioners lives has been an honor. So, thanks to everyone who have made these past 38 years ones of great happiness and fulfillment. I still do not know why God called me to be a priest, but I have tried to fulfill that call the best I can.

God Bless All of You!

Fr Don

September 22nd | Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Last week during the homily, we presented to you our new Vision, Core Values, and Aspirational Values for Our Lady of Mercy Parish. To help us implement these, we need to add a few new members to our Parish Pastoral Council.

The role of the Pastoral Council is to help bring forth the vision of the parish. The focus of the Pastoral Council is to develop broad, visionary strategy for the whole parish over a longer-term period. The council prayerfully discerns how God is calling the parish to fulfill its vision and provides direction on how the parish can best achieve this in a continual process. The Pastoral Council meetings will be every two months for a strategic, workshop style session with the Parish Leadership Team. The Parish Leadership Team is Fr. Don, Fr. Mark, Phil Britton, Zara Tan, and Mary Jo Trapani. These meetings will be on a Saturday morning or afternoon, or Sunday afternoon.

We need people on the Pastoral Council who have the gifts, interest and availability to do big-picture parish strategy work. The ideal Pastoral Council member:

  • Has a daily prayer life and is a participating member of Our Lady of Mercy, with an eagerness to carry out the parish vision, and is 16 years old or older.
  • Is a passionate visionary thinker and planner. Has skills to address the driving question, “Where are we going and how will we get there?”
  • Is committed to the importance of welcoming and inviting parishioners and people in our community to know Jesus, be formed in an ongoing was as a disciple, and sent out on His mission.
  • Is excited about what the parish has been doing the past couple of years and the direction in which we are moving.
  • Has an availability of time and energy and easily works with groups.

If you fit this description, please consider submitting your name and contact information to frdon@olmercy.com as a possible candidate for our Pastoral Council by October 25th. If you know someone else who fits this description, please encourage them to submit their name as well. A discernment meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 12th at 7:00PM. Please prayerfully consider whether joining the Pastoral Council may be the way you are being called to help bring forth the vision of our parish!

Have a blessed week!

Fr Don

September 15th | Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church throughout the United States celebrates Catechetical Sunday. The words of the disciples on the road to Emmaus when encountering the risen Jesus but not recognizing him, “Stay with us” is the theme for Catechetical Sunday. Catechetical Sunday also gives us the opportunity to say “thank you” to the men, women, and teens who volunteer in our faith formation programs at Our Lady of Mercy. Fr. Mark and I truly appreciate your desire and commitment to sharing our Catholic faith with our children. Guided by our Directors of Religious Education, Mary Jo Trapani, Candy Rice, and Dave Miserendino, our catechists and volunteers receive the support they need to help our children experience Jesus and become missionary disciples. Fr. Mark and I are deeply grateful for the expertize and passion Mary Jo, Candy, and Dave, along with Jean Rehmer and Jean Palasz bring to the Religious Education Program at Our Lady of Mercy.

Stay with us! That is the message I would like to get out to all our parents concerning religious education for their children. We have 1,186 children in our parish between the ages of 5 and 13 – the formative years of faith development. As I write this article, we currently have 475 children of this age group registered to attend our religious education program this fall. Where are the other 711 children??? I know that some are attending Catholic schools, but that still leaves us with a huge number of children not receiving the Good News and coming to know Jesus. We are deeply concerned!!

Parents who have not registered your children in our program, how can we help? Maybe God and church are not a priority in your life at this time. No matter the reason, we want to invite and help you to reconnect. Call me, Fr. Mark or any of the RE staff if you would like to talk. We pray that you feel God tugging at your heart. We want nothing to stand in the way of your children and you experiencing Jesus’ love and mercy. Parents, if you’ve been away from God and/or the Church, we would love to welcome you to try ALPHA. Find out more at alpha@olmercy.com. Help your children discover the goodness of God and the joy of being a part of the family of Our Lady of Mercy. RE classes begin the week of September 23rd. Registration is still open – call the RE office. If you have something holding you back, Fr. Mark and I are more than willing to meet with you to address any issues or concerns you may have. We are here to help!! Call us! Be a part of us! Stay with us!!

Have a Blessed Week!

Fr Don

September 8th | Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Numbers don’t tell the whole story!! Inserted in today’s bulletin is a copy of our annual stewardship and financial report. This report covers the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2018 and ended on June 30, 2019. But as I’ve said, numbers and statistics don’t tell the whole story. The people’s lives we have been able to touch and change through the ministries provided through your financial support in the Sunday collection, tell much more of the story!

ALPHA was first introduced in the fall of 2018. Since then, countless souls have grown in understanding and deepening their relationship with God – some for the first time. Today at Mass, you heard Naomi Kibler share her ALPHA experience with you. There are many other stories similar to hers. Many have encounter Jesus in a life changing way. ALPHA has changed the way many understand and experience church and the importance of community. It is not uncommon that those who go through ALPHA develop a much more intentional prayer life and understanding of the Holy Spirit. People who have been away from the church and attend ALPHA have a new enthusiasm for the faith and knowing more about Jesus. Additionally, over 60 parishioners deepened their understanding of the Eucharist by participating in the Bishop Barron Bible Study series on the Eucharist.

Perhaps you saw the cover story in the Diocesan magazine of March 2019 on “Fit Shepherds” at OLM. Guys witnessed to how they have grown spiritually and have become better husbands and fathers. Because of what we are doing at OLM, several parishes have reached out to us for direction on starting a group at their parish.

The volunteers in our St. Vincent de Paul chapter give hope to individuals and families who are struggling to make ends meet, not only by material support, but by personal engaging visits as well. I often get thank you notes from people who have been helped.

I’ve just mentioned a few ways in which some of our ministries have made a difference in people’s lives. I could go on and on about how ALL our parish ministries touch people’s lives, but you get the point. Your gifts of time, talent, and treasure truly make a difference in making our parish one of intentional disciples!

The last two years, I talked at all the Masses, asking you to fill out a commitment card for your financial support. I am not doing that this year, but simply asking you to continue your level of support, and if possible, to increase your support if your means allow. God has been so good to us!

Have a blessed week!

Fr Don

September 1st, 2019 | Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s gospel speaks a lot about being of humble service. Of course all those who minister in the Church, whether ordained or lay persons are called to be of humble service. One of those ordained ministries is that of the permanent diaconate. We currently have three men from our parish studying to be ordained permanent deacons. Doug McIlvaine and Rodney “Bugsy” Sindac have successfully completed the Diaconate Aspirancy Year and will be admitted as candidates for the permanent diaconate at a Mass celebrated on Friday, September 6th at St. Ann Parish in Channahon. We congratulate Doug and “Bugsy”, their wives and families on this step toward ordination. Upon completing their studies and with approval of the bishop, they will be ordained permanent deacons in 2022. Our other candidate for the diaconate, Dr. Tony Leazzo, will receive the ministry of Acolyte at a Mass on October 4th at St. Mary Immaculate in Plainfield. Congratulations to Tony and his family. Upon completion of his studies and with the approval of the bishop, Tony will be ordained a permanent deacon on August 22, 2020. Information about becoming a permanent deacon is on the Diocese of Joliet website – www.dioceseofjoliet.org.

A deacon is an ordained minister of the Church. There are three groups, or “orders” of ordained ministers in the Church: bishops, presbyters (priests), and deacons. All ordained ministers in the Church are called to functions of Word, Sacrament, and Charity, but bishops, presbyters and deacons exercise these functions in various ways. As ministers of Word, deacons proclaim the Gospel, preach, and teach in the name of the Church. As minister of Sacrament, deacons baptize, lead the faithful in prayer, witness marriages, and conduct wake and funeral services. As ministers of Charity, deacons are leaders in identifying the needs of others, then marshaling the Church’s resources to meet those needs. Deacons are also dedicated to eliminating the injustices or inequities that cause such needs. But no matter what specific functions a deacon performs, they flow from his sacramental identity. In other words, it is not only WHAT a deacon does, but HOW a deacon is, that is most important.

I conclude with a word of thanks to our current permanent deacons and their wives for their ministry at OLM. Deacon Bob Vavra (now retired), Deacon Tim Kueper, Deacon Art Tiongson, Deacon Phil Rehmer, Deacon Tony Martini, and Deacon Michael Plese have served our parish well! Let us pray for our deacons and deacon candidates.

Have a blessed week!

Fr Don

August 25th | Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time

144,000 that’s it! According to the Book of Revelation that we heard from today, only 144,000 people will merit salvation – that’s if you take the Book of Revelation literally. Several years ago I visited a parishioner at a former parish who was on their deathbed. Since childhood he believed, and still believed on his deathbed that only 144,000 were going to make it to heaven. “I’m not one of them” he told me. Having made peace with his flawed self a long time ago, he said “it doesn’t matter what I do.” He felt more comfortable in the doomed sinner category. Let the 144,000 have their reserved bleached white celestial garments! He will make do with whatever awaits the rest of us. At times I’ve jokingly said that it doesn’t matter where I go….I’ll know people in both places! But the belief that only 144,000 will make it need corrected. Revelation doesn’t say 144,000 merit saving. It says uncountable multitudes do, underscoring this assessment with a number signifying completeness. Twelve represents all Israel, and also the 12 apostles or the ingathered New Israel of the church. Twelve times 12 is 144, which has a superlative effect in numerology. Think of the three zeros like ellipsis dots…as if to say this number goes on and on. Far from a limiting tally, the 144,000 predicts a vast ocean of rescued souls. In the Gospel today, Jesus seems to be narrowing the gene pool of the saved by the teaching that the gate is narrow. But rather, he is saying divine rescue comes more easily to the outsider (presumed damned) than to the insider (presumed saved.) This is Gospel good news!!

I would like to inform you about a few projects that have been happening this summer. We are in the process of making our grounds on the west side of the church a more park like setting for your enjoyment. Through the generous donation of the Savoie family, outdoors stations of the cross have been installed on the west wall of the church building, and a pathway is being installed by the Boy Scouts. This is all in memory of Timothy Savoie. A dedication ceremony will take place on September 8th. Well also plan to add benches. The Boy Scouts are also installing a permanent fire pit for use by our various youth ministry programs and parish organizations. A picnic table and outdoor furniture have been added outside of room 114. An outdoor conversation area has been added on the patio outside the west doors and we plan a pergola over it. We are also in the process of installing energy efficient and long lasting LED lighting in the church. Profits from this year’s MercyFest will be directed toward LED lighting in the gym. The next project I am looking at is a new sign for the outside of church. Thanks for your generosity that makes all this possible!

Have a blessed week!

Fr Don

August 18th | Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

“Do something!” That was the cry of the crowd gathered made to the governor of Ohio who had come to the site of the mass shooting in Dayton the day after the tragic event that took the lives of 10 people and injured 27. Just hours before, another mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas killed 23 and wounding 24. A week or so before that, 3 lives were lost and 13 injured, during a mass shooting at a festival in Gilroy, California. The number of shootings and deaths weekly in Chicago is a sad statistic. Every time I hear of these senseless tragic events that have become so common in our world today, I cry out “stop the madness!” I pray for the victims, their families, and the person(s) who commit such evil crimes. And I want God to “do something” to end this craziness.

The “do something” for some is to legislate stricter gun laws and background checks – which may help. But I think there is something much deeper here that needs our attention – and that is the changing of human hearts, which cannot be legislated. Instead, God is asking us to “do something!” And that doing something involves examining our commitment to the dignity of EVERY human life, and doing all we can to end discrimination and racism in our-selves and society. Some of these mass shootings appear to be racially motivated. While most of us probably do not think of ourselves as being a racist, if we are honest, to some degree we probably are. A little joke here, stereotyping there, not speaking out when we see discrimination – all is subtle racism. Instead of blaming our president, who I do believe needs to be called out on some of his divisive and unacceptable rhetoric, as well as politicians on both sides of the aisle, I think we have to start by looking first at ourselves. Racism is nothing new. Jesus tried to eradicate it in his time, by teaching that God loves ALL people. Many of this stories reached out beyond ethnic boundaries to point that out. And isn’t it amazing that with all the technological advances since the time of Jesus, much still hasn’t been done to change the human heart!

I have included in today’s bulletin a copy of an article “A Catholic Response to Racism.” As Catholics, we need to promote the dignity and worth of every single person. ALL LIVES MATTER – and until hearts believe this, racism will still flourish. But, with God’s grace and help, we CAN turn violent hearts to hearts of love, mercy and compassion! Let’s start with our own first!!

Have a Blessed Week!

Fr Don

August 11, 2019 | 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time

What is faith? Many ask that question. Some fear they have “lost” faith. Some feel they don’t have enough faith. So, what is it? Faith is defined in our second reading today from the letter to the Hebrews. “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested.” Then the author points out Abraham, our faith in faith, for our edification and emulation. In a mini biography, the ancient writer reminds us of the salient moments of Abraham’s life, each one of which was made possible by faith. By faith Abraham obeyed, not knowing where he was to go; by faith he sojourned, by faith he received power; by faith he offered up Isaac. Abraham was able to be and to do all that God asked of him only because his entire life was driven and empowered by faith. We were given the same faith of Abraham at our baptism. We just haven’t realized it!

As we look again today at Abraham, and as we remember the fervor of the early Christians, let us be renewed in our belief and newly fortified by our faith. Faith will require that we sojourn in this world without the luxury of setting our own itinerary and without full knowledge of where God will lead us. Faith requires that we believe even when it seems more practical not to. Faith also will ask us to surrender our Isaac to God. Just as Abraham fully relied on Isaac to keep his heritage and his name alive, each of us has an Isaac – someone or something without which we think we cannot live. Even that, which is so precious to us, must be surrendered to God if we are truly to live by faith. And genuine faith is more than the Sunday obligation or a time set apart each day for prayer. Faith is seeing another in need and stopping to help rather than pass them by. Faith is speaking out against injustice and voting according to our conscience. Faith is letting our Catholic Christian principles guide our lives rather than being swept along by popular opinion. Faith is the willingness to speak out when it is safer to remain silent. Faith is believing without seeing, praying without ceasing and trusting without proof that God is, that Jesus is, and that the Spirit dwells within. Living a life of faith is not easy – but with God, all things are possible!!

Have a blessed week!

Fr Don