March 24 – Palm Sunday

Would you rather go for a Donkey or a Horse?

     On Palm Sunday, we begin our celebration of Holy Week, the final week in the life of our Lord.  Holy Week begins Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and culminates with his glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. Holy Week is the most sacred time in the Christian Year as we are called to holiness, just as the name points out. It reminds us of Jesus’ call to perfection in Matthew 5:48: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”. The call to holiness is a call to follow Jesus closely. This involves following his example of choosing a donkey instead of a horse.

    By entering Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus fulfils the Old Testament prophecies such as that from Zechariah 9:9, which speaks of the Messiah coming humbly on a donkey. Moreover, he makes a powerful but silent reply to the hopes of many people waving branches and welcoming him with royal acclamation. For parents, the favorite moment of the day typically is or was coming home from work and having your kids run to greet you. This is exactly how the people in Jerusalem greeted Jesus, and how we should greet him too. Just like the enthusiastic crowd, we should welcome Jesus in our hearts with shouts of praise and adoration. This is the contagious nature of genuine worship and the importance of celebrating Jesus as our King, even in uncertainty and challenges.

      Jesus rode on a donkey to underscore his humility, choosing a simple donkey rather than a majestic horse, which was customary for kings and conquerors. True greatness often comes from humility and service rather than power and prestige. Did Jesus deserve a horse? Yes, he did. But a servant chooses a donkey – the way of the cross – instead of the horse of a conqueror. The donkey – Jesus’s donkey, always offers our hearts the chance to say, “How can I choose love over pride? How can I use my gifts to serve others? How can I share my blessings with the world?”. The metaphor of the donkey answers the question, “who is this Jesus?” He is the one who dies so others can live. The horse – the King’s horse, always tempts our hearts to say, “I did better than the rest of my friends. I’m smarter, and I have more natural gifts, God favored me!” Humble yourself and go find a donkey!

Topher Otieno


From the Pastor’s Desk

May 8 – The Good Shepherd

Today is Mother’s Day in the United States and Canada and over 80 other countries around the world.  I wish all Our Lady of Mercy mothers, expectant mothers, and women who have been a mother figure in our lives, a blessed Mother’s Day!  And may God grant eternal life to those mothers who have died whose memory we lovingly recall this day as well.

Today is also known, because of our gospel reading, as “Good Shepherd Sunday”.  Perhaps the Good Shepherd is an appropriate image for mothers too.  While Shepherds are seldom seen by us today except in rural settings, the manner and mission of the shepherd is one of the most poignant and powerful descriptions of God and of Jesus in the scriptures.  Unlike contemporary sheep ranchers who control their herds with dogs, horses, pick-up trucks or other methods, shepherds in Jesus’ day knew their sheep individually.  Each had a name to which it responded when called by its shepherd. Our parents gave us our name.  Moms know their children and can distinguish their voice, their cries, even in a crowd.  Rather than prod them from behind, the ancient shepherd would walk ahead of the sheep, striking a safe path, and search for good grazing and water.  Moms sacrifice much to guide and provide the best for their children.  When a sheep was missing, the shepherd sought it out; when a sheep was injured, the shepherd carried it and tended its wounds.  Our moms have done just the same.  Jesus laid down his life to secure the safety and salvation of sinners.  I haven’t known a parent who wouldn’t lay down their life for their child, who doesn’t agonize when their child is sick, who would suffer themselves if it would take away any suffering of their child. In this way, moms (and dads) model the Good Shepherd.  Unfortunately, there are some who have not experienced Jesus the Good Shepherd in their mother or father.  May the love and nurturing you missed be found through another person(s) Jesus has put in your life.  And may we all have the grace to forgive those who have hurt us in any way.

So on this Mother’s Day, let us honor ALL the women in our life who have nurtured our faith, modeled the Good Shepherd, and loved us as a mother would, no matter what!

Blessings to you all on this Mother’s Day!

Father Don


Associate Director of Family and Youth Evangelization and Catechesis for Grades 6-12

Associate Director of Family and Youth Evangelization and Catechesis for Grades 6-12.

Our Lady of Mercy Parish, Aurora IL

Our Lady of Mercy Parish is seeking a full-time Associate Director for Family  and Youth Catechesis and Evangelization for Grades 6-12. The Associate Director will work with a ministry team to develop and grow disciples for Christ and send them on mission. Primary focus will be spent working with high school teens and their families, while providing support for the other catechetical/evangelization ministries of the parish. An applicant must have experience in youth or family ministry, rooted in the Catholic faith and have a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Religious Studies, or Pastoral Ministry or related field. Benefits are offered with this position.

Please submit resume to Dave Miserendino at Our Lady of Mercy Parish via email at or mail at 701 S. Eola Road, Aurora IL 60504.


From the Pastor’s Desk

May 23 – Pentecost

In case you didn’t see my May 10 announcement……


 As you know, our governor announced last week that barring a resurgence of COVID-19, the state could move to stage 5 of re-opening on June 11, which removes nearly all COVID restrictions.  For now however, ALL protocols by the state and Diocese of Joliet are still in effect at our parish churches and facilities.  I will keep you informed when there are changes.

What the Diocese is doing……

On April 14, Bishop Hicks instructed pastors of all parishes to establish a “Reunite in Christ” task force.  Besides myself, Fr. James and Deacon Tom Logue, serving on the task force will be Doug McIlvaine, Zara Tan, Phil Zwick, Miroslava Manzanares, and Alex Baier.  Doug McIlvaine is chair of the task force.

The purpose of the task force is to dream and implement pastoral plans for when we can welcome everyone back to parish life without restrictions on the number of people who can attend and participate in parish programs and activities.  A primary task will be giving priority to returning to Sunday Mass when the Bishop re-instates the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. One of the aspirational goals we set in 2019 was and still is, to be a parish where everyone hungers to be nourished by the true presence of Christ in Word and Eucharist, giving priority to coming to Mass every Sunday.

The task force will also plan and set a date for a weekend festive celebration of fully reopening.

I will keep you apprized as plans are developed and when the Diocese changes any of the current COVID protocols. Thank you for your cooperation and patience during this long pandemic.

Today we celebrate Pentecost……the birthday of the Church!  May the Holy Spirit fill us with wisdom and joy as we prepare to move past the COVID pandemic and fully reopen and reunite in Christ our parish church and facilities.

Happy Birthday to all of you – the church!

Father Don


From the Pastor’s Desk

April 11 – Second Sunday of Easter

Tradition has long characterized poor Thomas as “doubting Thomas.” But, Thomas should not be seen as the great paragon of doubt as tradition has characterized him.  When told about the first appearance, Thomas is skeptical because he was not there and has not seen what the other apostles saw.  All he wants is the same evidence that the other disciples already have.  Jesus seems to have no problem in giving Thomas what he needs.  Seeing the risen Lord is enough for Thomas.  He does not touch the wounds of Jesus.  Instead, he professes a profound faith in his Lord and his God.  The Lord gives us what we need that we might believe in him.  And what might that be?  What do you need to believe in Jesus?

If you need something to believe in Jesus, I suggest it is what the Church celebrates today – Divine Mercy!  The devotion of Divine Mercy is associated with the apparitions of Jesus to Saint Faustine Kowalska.  The primary focus of the Divine Mercy devotion is the merciful love of God and the desire to let that love and mercy flow through one’s own hear toward those in need of it.  Jesus showed mercy toward Thomas by granting Thomas what he needed to believe.  Thomas didn’t deserve mercy – he didn’t believe the witness of his brother apostles.  But that’s the point, mercy is never deserved.  Mercy always flows from a heart of compassion.  In celebrating Divine Mercy, we pray for a compassionate heart like that of Jesus.  In receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, we experience the mercy of Jesus poured out on us, so that we can pour out His mercy on others.  Let us celebrate the Divine Mercy each of us have received from God throughout our life, and be quick to offer mercy to anyone who offends or hurts us!

Have a blessed Easter Season!

Father Don

From the Pastor’s Desk

March 14 – The Fourth Sunday of Lent

Have you noticed?  It began on Ash Wednesday.  A change in the conclusion of some of the prayers at Mass.  I bet you didn’t even notice…it’s so small.  I even wondered why the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments made a big deal of it, and why they didn’t catch it before we started using the third translation of the Roman Missal which is a more accurate translation of the Latin, on the First Sunday of Advent 2011.  So what’s the change?  It is in the concluding doxology of the Collects in the Roman Missal and other liturgical books.  Most of the prayers conclude with “Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”  Specifically, the Congregation points out that the current translation is incorrect.  There is no mention of “one” in the Latin, and that “one” was added when the texts were published in English, after the Second Vatican Council.  So, now we conclude with “Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.”  If you ask me, they must have run out of things to do in Rome!

This coming Friday, March 19th is the Feast of St. Joseph.  Pope Francis declared this a year in honor of St. Joseph.  At all the Masses the weekend of March 20 & 21, we will recite the Prayer of Consecration to St. Joseph, and you will receive a holy card of St. Joseph as you leave Mass courtesy of Beidelman-Kunsch Funeral Home.

Most depictions of St. Joseph show him holding the child Jesus, but sometimes he is depicted holding a church like the statue of him on the wall in our church.  This is because St. Joseph is the patron saint of the Universal Church.  Pope Francis in proclaiming the Year of Saint Joseph wrote:  “Saint Joseph was a father in varied ways; beloved, tender and loving, obedient, accepting, creatively courageous, working, and ‘in the shadows’.”  Pope Francis concluded his letter with a short prayer to Saint Joseph as a synthesis of his teachings.  This prayer will be on the back of the holy card you receive.

In the bulletin today and on our website, you will find a list of what you can do to receive a Plenary Indulgence during the Year of Saint Joseph.

Have a blessed week and Lent!

Father Don



From the Pastor’s Desk

February 7 – Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Why me?  That is the universal question everyone asks when faced with suffering!  That suffering can be physical with a terminal diagnosis.  That suffering can be the loss of a job or home.  That suffering can be the emotional pain and grief of losing a loved one or a divorce.  That suffering can be the loss of broken family relationship.  The list can go on and on.  And “why me” seldom if ever leads to a satisfying answer.  And so today we hear of the plight of the Old Testament figure, Job.

At the time of Job, suffering was seen as punishment for sin.  It still is by many today.  In the time of Job, there was no understanding of an afterlife of happiness, and hence no hope of God’s “making it up to you” for suffering.  This compounds Job’s misery.  He has lost the only happiness he thinks possible – in spite of being a good and righteous man.  It seemed that God was punishing him for no reason at all.

As Christians, we are taught to live by faith, and usually we do.  When doubt casts a shadow over our faith, it’s especially unsettling.  We feel a second loss – loss of confidence in the faith we counted on.  However, doubt IS NOT THE SIGN OF A WEAK FAITH OR A SINFUL SPIRIT. It’s NOT an insult to God, nor is it an act of disloyalty.  Pope Francis wrote that “trusting in God does not mean never arguing with Him.”  Thomas Merton wrote, “Faith means doubt.  Faith is not the suppression of doubt.  It is the overcoming of doubt, and you overcome doubt by going through it.”  Paul Tillich wrote, “Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element OF faith.”  In other words, do not doubt that God can handle your doubt, whether occasioned by suffering or by something else.

The valuable question about our personal suffering is not “why?”  Instead the valuable and practical questions is, “What am I going to do with it?”  We can chose the “woe is me” path, or we can chose, like the suffering of Christ himself, to accept and offer our suffering WITH Christ and then our suffering has the power to accomplish good.  When suffering comes your way, and it will, pray to God for the grace to offer your sufferings for the good of others.

Today Boy Scout Sunday is celebrated.  We look forward to the time when our Cub and Boy Scout Troops sponsored by Our Lady of Mercy can meet again at OLM.

Ash Wednesday is two weeks away.  Please remember to pre-register to attend a Mass or Scripture Service.  Also, due to COVID, the sign of the cross with ashes will not be traced on your forehead.  Instead, ashes will be sprinkled like a “pinch of salt” on top of your head.

Have a blessed week!

Father Don


Seven Great Reasons to Go to Confession Tomorrow (and Often)

by Tom Hoopes and The Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College | Aug 01, 2014

Confession is a gift that keeps on giving. Go early, go often and bring the kids.

At the Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College, we believe it is time for Catholics to imaginatively and vigorously promote confession.

But don’t take our word for it.

“The renewal of the Church in America depends on the renewal of the practice of penance,” Pope Benedict told us at Nationals Stadium in Washington.

Pope John Paul II spent his last years on earth pleading with Catholics to return to confession, including in an urgent motu proprio document about confession and in his encyclical on the Eucharist.

He called the crisis in the Church the crisis of confession and wrote to priests:

“I feel a pressing need to urge you, as I did last year, to rediscover for yourselves and help others to rediscover the beauty of the sacrament of reconciliation.”

Why all of this angst over confession? Because when we skip confession, we lose the sense of sin. The loss of the sense of sin is at the root of so many evils in our time, from child abuse to financial dishonesty, from abortion to atheism.

So, how to promote confession? Here are some talking points. Seven reasons to return to confession, both natural and supernatural.

  1. Sin aggravates you.
    A therapist tells the story about a patient who had been in a terrible cycle of depression and self-disgust ever since high school. Nothing seemed to help. One day, the therapist met the patient in front of a Catholic church. They ducked inside when it began raining, and witnessed people going to confession.

“Should I go too?” asked the patient, who had received the sacrament as a child. “No!” said the counselor. The patient went anyway, and emerged from the confessional with her first smile in years, and kept improving in the weeks to come. The therapist studied more about confession, eventually became Catholic and now counsels regular confession for all her Catholic patients.

Sin leads to depression because it isn’t just an arbitrary violation of rules: It’s a violation of the purpose built into our being by God. Confession lifts the guilt and anxiety caused by sin and heals you.

  1.  Sin makes you aggravating.
    In the movie 3:10 to Yuma, the villain Ben Wade says, “I don’t mess around with doing anything good, Dan. Do one good deed for somebody—I imagine it’s habit forming.” He is right. As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” As the Catechism puts it: “Sin creates a proclivity to sin.” People don’t just lie; they become liars. We don’t just steal; we become thieves. Making a clean break from sin redefines you, allows you to start new habits of virtue.

“God is determined to deliver his children from slavery to lead them to freedom,” said Pope Benedict XVI. “And the worst and most profound slavery is that of sin.”

  1.  We need to say it.
    If you break a favorite item belonging to a friend, you would never be satisfied just feeling regret. You would feel compelled to explain what you did, express your sorrow, and do whatever is necessary to set things right.

It is the same when we break something in our relationship with God. We need to say we’re sorry, and try to fix it.

Pope Benedict XVI points out that we should feel the need to confess even if we aren’t guilty of serious sin.

“We clean our homes, our rooms, at least once a week, even if the dirt is always the same; in order to live in cleanliness, in order to start again,” he said. “Something similar can be said about the soul.”

  1.  Confessing helps you know yourself.
    We get ourselves all wrong. Our self-opinion is like a series of funhouse mirrors. Sometimes we see a strong and wonderful awe-inspiring version of ourselves. Sometimes we see a grotesque and twisted hateful version of ourselves.

Confession forces us to look at our lives objectively, separate the real sins from the bad feelings and see ourselves as we really are.

As Pope Benedict XVI put it: “Confession helps us to make our consciences more alert, more open and hence, it also helps us to mature spiritually and as human persons.”

  1.  Confession helps children.

Children need to go to confession, too. Some writers have stressed the negative aspects of childhood confession—being lined up in their Catholic schools and “forced to think of things to feel guilty about.”

It needn’t be like that.

Catholic Digest editor Danielle Bean once explained about how her brothers and sisters would tear up their confession lists after confession and drop them down the gutter by the church. “What a liberation!” she wrote “Returning my sins to the dark underworld from whence they had come felt wholly appropriate. ‘Hit my sister six times’ and ‘talked back to my mother four times’ were no longer my burden to bear.”

Confession can give children a place to unburden themselves without fear, and a place to get kindly adult advice when they are worried about speaking to their parents. A good examination of conscience (like this one) can guide children toward appropriate things to confess. Many families make confession an outing, followed up with ice cream.

  1.  Confessing mortal sin is required.
    As the Catechism puts it, mortal sin, unconfessed “causes exclusion from Christ’s Kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices forever, with no turning back.”

Over and over again in the 21st century, the Church has reminded us that Catholics guilty of committing a mortal sin can’t go to communion without confession.

“One commits a mortal sin when there are simultaneously present: grave matter, full knowledge and deliberate consent,” says the Catechism.

The U.S. bishops reminded Catholics about common sins that constitute grave matter in the 2006 document “Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper.” Those sins include: missing Mass on a Sunday or holy day of obligation, abortion and euthanasia, any extramarital sexual activity, theft, pornography, slander, hatred and envy.

  1.  Confession is a personal encounter with Christ.
    In confession, it’s Christ who heals and forgives us, through the ministry of the priest. We have a personal encounter with Christ in the confessional. Just like the shepherds and Magi at the crèche, we find awe and humility. And just like the saints at the crucifixion, we find gratitude, repentance and peace.

There is no greater accomplishment in life than helping another person return to confession.

We should be willing to talk about confession like we talk about every other significant event in our lives. The offhand comment, “I won’t be able to make it until later, because I need to get to confession,” can be more convicting than a theological discourse. And since confession is a significant event in our lives, it’s an appropriate answer to the question “What are you doing this weekend?” Many of us also have funny or interesting confession stories—tell them.

Help make confession normal again. Let as many people as possible discover the beauty of this freeing sacrament.

Tom Hoopes is Vice President of College Relations and writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. His writing has appeared in First Things’ First Thoughts, National Review Online, Crisis, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside Catholic and Columbia. Before joining Benedictine College, he was Executive Editor of the National Catholic Register. He has served as press secretary for the Chairman of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee. He and his wife, April, were editorial co-directors of Faith & Family magazine for 5 years. They have nine children. The views and opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Benedictine College or the Gregorian Institute.

This article originally appeared on the Gregorian Blog of the Gregorian Institute at Benedictine College, Atchison, KS. Reposted with permission of the author. All rights reserved.

*We Need You – Please Consider Volunteering for OLM Efforts @ Hesed House Needed


Please consider donating a food item(s) or volunteering your time to serve a meal at Hesed House, a homeless shelter located in Aurora, which provides men, women and children with shelter, food and unconditional hospitality.

Hesed House is a homeless shelter located in Aurora, which provides men, women and children with shelter, food and unconditional hospitality.

The OLM program for Hesed House provides the food/supplies and VOLUNTEER WORKERS to serve a meal and provide hospitality on the first Tuesday of each month. Each evening anywhere from 100-150 ‘guests’ are appreciative of the meal and companionship provided through this ministry. Donations of food and/or volunteer time are solicited on a monthly basis.

For more information or to volunteer your time or food/supplies items
please contact Len or Linda Eickhoff at 630-904-0906 or Deacon Phil
Rehmer at 630-851-3444, extension 232.

Thank you!

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