Now Known as Chardonnay W(h)ines!
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!
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!
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!
“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!
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!