From the Pastor’s Desk

Now Known as Chardonnay W(h)ines!

June 7 – The Most Holy Trinity

Here it is, the first weekend in June and we are slowing emerging from two and a half months of isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Some have used the time as an opportunity to grow spiritually and accomplish some long put off goals or projects.  Others were stressed out with the lack of community and sense of a loss of freedom and new demands that life became burdensome of a challenge.  Which are you?  For me, I think I am a combination of both.  I did spend some of the time doing spiritual reading, but I never seemed to get around to most of the projects I had planned to do.  I did get one project done…..cleaned out the basement of the rectory. At other times, I felt overwhelmed by the ever-changing directives that came from the governor and bishop. I dealt with the stress by what I call the other COVID-19…..the 19 or more pounds I put on by eating every sweet and dessert in sight.  But that is now behind me…three things I resolved on Memorial Day weekend to do:  1. Start bike riding again, which I have done every day.  2.  Pay more attention to my diet.  I have stage III kidney disease since I had a kidney removed four years ago due to cancer.  I have to reduce protein, and avoid foods high in potassium, sodium and phosphorus.  And since glucose level is at 110, I need to STOP eating bread and sweets.  3. Laugh more!  They say laughter is the best medicine, and maybe it just is the best way to deal with all the stresses of this pandemic.  So, every night when I go to bed, I take my iPad, go to YouTube and watch an episode of “I Love Lucy” or the “Carol Burnette Show” or “Hollywood Squares” or animals doing goofy things. Anything to make me laugh!  And then I try to do something each day to make someone else laugh.  That’s been the penances I’ve been giving lately, do something to make yourself laugh and do something to make someone else laugh.  Pray for me St. Philip Neri….he gave goofy penances too!

On this Trinity Sunday, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit offers new pathways for us to reflect on his love for us and draw us into an intimate, dynamic, and life-changing relationship.  God the Father: “receives us as your own.”  The words of Moses remind us that God has created us as his own, loves us, and we belong to him. God the Son:  If we forget God’s love for us, we need only look to the cross to be reminded. God the Holy Spirit:  Our relationship with the Spirit is not an abstract proposition.  The Holy Spirit can impact our lives in concrete and life-changing ways.  The Holy Spirit pours out God’s love into our hearts.  The Holy Spirit transforms fear into freedom, isolation into community, and sends people out with purpose.  May the power of the Blessed Trinity touch your life!

Have a blessed week!

Father Don



May 31 | Pentecost Sunday

Hooray! It’s Pentecost! The Holy Spirit has been unleashed upon us!! Thanks to the hard work of our re-opening leadership team, Fr. Mark, Jolene LeRoy, Bob Gancarz, Phil Zwick, Len Eickhoff, and Phyllis Anderson, I am pleased to inform you that our parish has received certification from the Diocese of Joliet to begin scheduling confession times, baptisms, weddings, funerals, private prayer times and Eucharistic adoration. We are the first parish in the Diocese to receive certification. ALL of these celebrations have the following requirements:

• 10 people maximum (excluding celebrant and assisting minister(s)

• Face masks must be worn at all times

• 6 foot social distancing must be maintained at all times (except those living in same house)

• Hand sanitizing upon entering and exiting church

Confessions will begin on May 26. The last week in May and first two weeks in June we will be scheduling confession times only. The schedule for confessions and directions for anonymously reserving a time are on our website.

We will add scheduled times for private prayer and Eucharistic adoration beginning the week of June 14.

We have also been certified by the Diocese to begin weekday and Sunday Masses. However, we may not begin celebrating public Masses, weekday or Sunday, until the Governor allows churches to open for public worship. When this happens, it will likely be limited to a certain percentage of our seating capacity. We have planned for 20% occupancy, which means 200 people at a Mass. We have planned to celebrate four Masses on the weekend. We will continue to livestream Sunday Mass at 9:00AM and weekday Masses at 8:00AM. Like confessions, an online reservation system will be used for Sunday Masses.

For those who do not have access to the internet, you can make a reservation for confessions (and Mass when we are permitted to celebrate) by calling Zara Tan at 331.707.5381.

I know this has been a very challenging and difficult time. You have missed reception of the sacraments and the solace and spiritual comfort they provide. You have missed the quiet and peace of praying in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. You have missed community, and we have missed you!! It has been a messy time for all of us, but remember, God is in the mess too! God is with us! And so too is the power of the Holy Spirit!!

Have a Blessed week!

Father Don

May 24th | Ascension Sunday

“Why are you looking at the sky?” Today we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus to heaven. For forty days after his resurrection, he had been appearing to his disciples and speaking with them about the Kingdom of God. We are told in today’s Gospel that Jesus and the eleven disciples went to a mountain in Galilee where he told them, GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and to teach them to observe all that he commanded. This is why the disciples were asked as to why they were looking at the sky. It was time to get going!! Making disciples is our mission and vision here at Our Lady of Mercy. Since the shutdown of our church, offices and parish programs due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been a challenge in making disciples without the one-to-one or group in person contact. None-the-less, our staff has risen to the challenge!!

I want to applaud and recognize our staff who have been constant in their devotion to making disciples – this time electronically! First, I am so very grateful to Fr. Mark and Zara Tan for their outstanding work in providing for the livestreaming of Sunday and daily Mass, as well as programs to keep us spiritually nourish us during this time. Thanks to Mary Jo Trapani our DRE, Dave Miserendino our Youth Minister, and Candy Rice our EDGE Director, as well as their support staff Jean Rehmer and Jean Palasz who have kept parents, catechists, and children supplied with on-line faith formation content. Trust me, none of them have been sitting home twiddling their thumbs wondering what to do!

I also want to thank parishioner Nick Meriage owner of Creative Digital Masters and his team Ann Meriage, Fred Harris, Deanna Trampani and Maddy Rusen for the professional services of livestreaming our Sunday Mass. Nick donated our first livestream Mass and has discounted by half all our subsequent livestreamed Masses. Our weekday Masses are livestreamed at no charge.

Also, making disciples, congratulations to parishioners Jason and Carrie (Beelner) Nadziejko, 2003 graduates of the University of Iowa who were recipients of The University of Iowa’s 2020 Fr. Ed Fitzpatrick Discipleship Award. Newman Singer alumni, they married in 2004, moved to Chicago and started a family in 2005. They settled in Aurora in 2007 and are currently the parents of two teenage girls. The family is involved at OLM as cantors, religious education instructors and altar servers. Both Jason and Carrie credit the Newman Center as being “a rock and constant” when they were college students and as adults raising a family. They said: “We looked for a parish family that exemplified that same stead and sturdy constant the Newman Center provided to us. We are thankful when we can use our time, talent and treasure to serve our faith family at OLM.” As recipients of the Fr. Ed Fitzpatrick Discipleship Award, the Newman Catholic Student Center at the University of Iowa has made a $500 donation in Jason and Carrie’s honor to Our Lady of Mercy Parish.

Have a blessed week!

Father Don

May 17th | 6th Sunday of Easter

The gospel from John today situates us at the Last Supper, not post resurrection appearances. After calling on the disciples to trust him beyond all else, Jesus proclaims: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate.” That might make us think someone is impersonating Jesus at the table. It is as if Jesus were saying, “If you behave yourselves I’ll ask God so send you help.” That is one way to interpret this Gospel passage – it focuses our attention on the relative merits of our behavior with the hope that we can demonstrate enough virtue to pass muster. But that interpretation flounders, when Jesus goes on to speak of a Spirit of truth that the world cannot perceive. The idea of putting in great effort, pulling your own weight and earning everything you get is exactly the system of the world. Instead, Jesus is speaking of something else. When we listen carefully, we hear that Jesus is not talking about obedience but about loving him. He is talking about the transformation that happens when we fall in love with him. Falling in love with another person changes our perspective, we see the world differently and understand everything in relation to the beloved. People who love one another often take on some of the characteristics of the other. Long-time married couples often even start to look like each other! Such love points toward what Jesus is describing with his words. The love Jesus is talking about is devotion to the one who loved us first, whose love for us is immeasurable. This love is a commitment to the one who offers us a future of life beyond our imagining. The love Jesus is talking about orients absolutely everything else in our life. So when he says “If you love me you will keep my commandments,” we could easily rephrase that to say, “If you love me you will share my perspective and desire.”

In promising to send another Advocate or the Spirit, Jesus is promising that we will have help in perceiving or knowing the mind of Jesus so that we can remain true to who Jesus calls us to be. The role of the Spirit is expressed quite beautifully in the fourth Eucharistic Prayer which says: “That we might live no longer for ourselves but for him…he sent the Holy Spirit from you, Father, as the first fruits for those who believe, so that, bringing to perfection his work in the world, he might sanctify creation to the full.”

Loving Christ, open us to the Spirit who empowers us to bring Christ’s work to completion. Or as Jesus said so simply, “If you love me, you will keep my commands.”

Have a blessed Easter Season!

Fr Don

May 10th | 5th Sunday of Easter


(Pray Before Your Meal on Mother’s Day)

God of Love, listen to this prayer.
God of Holy People, of Sarah, Ruth, and Rebekah;
God of holy Elizabeth, mother of John, of Holy Mary, Mother of Jesus, bend down Your ear to this request and bless the mother of our family.

Bless her with the strength of Your spirit, she who has taught her child/ children how to stand and how to walk.

Bless her with the melody of Your love, she who has shared how to speak, how to sing, and how to pray to You.

Bless her with a place at Your eternal dinner table, she who has fed and nurtured the life that was formed within her while still helpless but embraced in her love.

Bless her today, now, in this lifetime, with good things, with health.
Bless her with joy, love, laughter, and pride in her child/children and surround her with many good friends.

May she who carried life in her womb be carried one day to Your divine embrace: there, for all eternity, to rejoice with her family and friends.

This blessing and all graces, we pray, descend upon the mother of our family: In the name of the father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen+

(Reprinted with permission. “Prayers for the Domestic Church – A Handbook for Worship in the Home” by Edward Hays Forest of Peace Publishing, Inc. PO Box 269, Leavenworth, KS 66048)

We especially honor our mother’s during this time of the Coronavirus pandemic and over month-long “stay at home order” for their keeping families together, children learning and occupied, in addition to all the other things they have been doing to keep families safe and healthy.

Fr. Mark and I wish all the mothers in our parish a very happy and blessed Mother’s Day!

Fr Don