From the Pastor’s Desk

Now Known as Chardonnay W(h)ines!

Sixth Sunday of Easter

I hope you’ve noticed!  After almost 21 years of countless praying knees, the padding on the kneelers in church were pretty worn down. Those worn out pads have been replaced!  We thank parishioner Peyton D’Orazio who, for his Eagle Scout project, organized and coordinated a team of volunteers (mostly youth) to remove the old padding and install new padding on the 287 kneelers in church.  This was all done in 1 day!  Way to go Peyton and team!!  And the project was funded by the profits of last year’s Mercy Fest.  And I have my sights set on another project for MercyFest profits this year. I think most of you would agree with me……. the sound system/acoustics in church definitely needs improved and updated!  I don’t know about you, but at times, depending where I sit in church, I find it difficult to hear what is being said from the ambo, cantor stand and even the presider’s mic.  In the 21 years the current sound system has been in use, there are many technological advances that new systems have today.  And I especially want to add hearing devices and technology for those with hearing loss.  I have already received bids from 3 companies and the project is not cheap.  So, we need to have a really successful MercyFest this year!  I know that chairs Tony/Jennifer Leazzo and Tom Martin are already hard at work planning this year’s MercyFest.  I know they want to make MercyFest special this year in celebration of the parish 30th anniversary.  It’s not too soon to volunteer your help! If you’ve never been involved with MercyFest, now is the time!  And I make a special invite to those who are “alumni” volunteers and workers from the past who so generously gave of your time and efforts to make previous Mercy Fests so successful, for old times’ sake and unity of celebrating our parish 30th anniversary – come back and help this year!!!  Contact Tony at 630.566.9870 to volunteer.  The dates for MercyFest this year are October 4th – 7th.

I know you always find Fr. Mark’s homilies very inspiring – I do!  Fr. Mark spends a great deal of time praying and preparing (and sometimes agonizing) over his homilies.  Sometimes he will say to me on a Thursday morning “I ain’t got nothing!” worried about what he will preach on that weekend. Well, the Holy Spirit always seems to come through and inspire him. I’ve told his mom I haven’t decided yet if I am living with a future bishop or saint! I think he could be the modern day Bishop Sheen! If you missed the homily he gave at all the Masses two weeks ago (April 22nd) you need to go to the parish APP and listen to it! He spoke about the need to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  He also spoke about the need for men to step up to the plate and be more involved in the faith formation of their children, but also for men to become more deeply in touch with their masculine spirituality.  And to do this through sharing faith with other men through the common bond of simply working out (exercising) with each other.  So, last Saturday 70 guys of all ages showed up at 7:00AM in our parking lot to exercise with Fr. Mark (I went on a bike ride).  I could only help but think – with in shape, blonde haired Fr. Mark leading exercises – that Fr. Mark is the Jack LaLanne of our times!  Unfortunately, he and most of the guys exercising with him have no idea who Jack LaLanne was!  God bless ‘em!  Ah! To be young again!

Have a Blessed Easter Season!

Informal Signature (2)

Fifth Sunday of Easter

This weekend and next, we celebrate First Ho- ly Communion with 156 children of our parish. What a special day it is for them and their  families! To receive  Jesus in this holy sacrament is the nourishment we all need to live  and grow in our relationship with Jesus. As  we all need to nourish our bodies daily with  proper nutrition to keep strong and physically  healthy, we too need to feed our souls, at least  weekly, with the Eucharist to have a healthy  spiritual life. Eucharist is the original “soul” food! So, I pray that this First  Communion for our children won’t be th eir last. When children confess that  they missed Mass, I tell them they haven’t sinned because they can’t get to  Mass on their own. That is the responsibility of parents. I tell the children to  tell their parents that they need and want  to go to Mass. So parents, I implore  you, don’t let your children become spiritually malnourished by missing the  opportunity to be fed by Jesus weekly in Holy Communion. And don’t be- come malnourished yourself!!

I want to thank the staff of our Religious Education Office, Cheryl Lohse and Jean Rehmer for all their assistance in preparing for this day. Also, I  thank Kim Harris, Cleo Hesselbach, Phyllis Anderson, Marie Reitenbach,  Chris Harvey, Rose Rolando, Catey Genc and Barb Toschak for their assistance with the liturgies. Thanks to Carrie Nadziejko and Jeanne Daill for  photography. And, a special thanks to our catechists, and parents for preparing theses children for this special day.  On behalf of Fr. Mark, and the parish  family of Our Lady of Mercy, I congratulate our children on the reception of  their First Holy Communion, and am delighted to welcome them to the table  of the Lord!

As we smile at the joy and excitement of our first communicants, perhaps  nostalgically remembering our own 1st Communion Day, maybe it would be a  good time to examine our own beliefs and attitudes toward our reception of  the Eucharist. Has receiving communion  become so routine that we forget  the reverence and awe we should feel as we approach our Lord in Holy Communion? Is the Eucharist simply something you get for yourself, or does receiving communion transform you to become Jesus for others? In recent surveys, sadly a significant number of Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist believing the consecrated bread and wine are  only symbols of Jesus’ presence. To BE Catholic is to accept by  faith that, at  their deepest reality, but not in physical characteristics, the bread and wine  become the Body and Blood of Christ when they are consecrated at Eucharist.  After consecration, the bread and wine  still appear as such, but they actually  are the Body and Blood of Jesus.

As we celebrate the simple faith of our children receiving 1st Holy Communion this weekend, may we have that same childlike faith when we come  forward and receive the Body and Blood of Jesus!

Second Sunday of Easter

As the Easter Alleluias continue to be proclaimed, the church throughout the world celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday today. In the year 2000, when Saint Pope John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina Kowalska, he declared that the universal Church would now observe the 2nd Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. The devotion to the Divine Mercy of Jesus comes from the private revelations that Sr. Faustina received from Jesus and wrote in her diary from 1937. Those who receive sacramental confession (the confession may take place some days before) and receive holy communion on Divine Mercy Sunday shall obtain the total forgiveness of all sins and punishment. Additionally, one may receive a plenary indulgence with the recitation of the Divine Mercy Chapel. All are welcome to our celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday today from 1:30PM to 4:00PM.

Last Saturday night at the Easter Vigil, three adults were baptized, confirmed and received the Eucharist. We warmly welcome Amy Ball, Douglas Cahanin, and Eric Weyhrich. Also, five adults, baptized in other Christian denominations made a profession of faith and joined the Catholic Church and were confirmed and shared in the Eucharist. We also warmly welcome into our family of faith, Felicia Caldernon, Sabrina Molinari, Haide Noyola, Matthew Sincora, and Alexander Stokowski. And, five baptized Catholics completed their initiation into the church by receiving the sacrament of confirmation. Whenever a priest baptizes and adult, or receives a baptized Christian into the church, those individuals are to be confirmed by the priest as part of being baptized or received into the church. For a priest to confirm baptized Catholics, he has to be delegated by the bishop. Bishop Conlon delegated me to confirm at the Easter Vigil, Jorge Diaz, Kendra Liscano, Alejandra Lopez, Francesca Parrino and Uriel Terrazas. We congratulate them on their confirmation. And, we pray for all our newly baptized, received, and confirmed, that they will have a life changing encounter with the Risen Lord and truly become His disciples.

With our new parish app, you can send in special prayer requests. Ever wonder what happens to those requests? They are prayed for daily by our staff. Monday through Friday, the staff gathers at 9:15am to 9:30am to pray for God’s guidance as we lead our parish, for our parish in general, our local community, individual needs, and the prayer requests that come in through our parish app. Prayer is power!

Finally, I want to share with you a special moment……Palm Sunday at the
10:45AM Mass, as I was distributing communion, a mother with child age 4
or 5 in the line next to me came up to the Eucharistic minister to receive communion. As he gave her communion, the child blurted out “I love you Jesus!” Made me smile!

Have a Blessed Easter Season!


Easter Sunday

ALLELUIA!! It is with great delight and joy that we priests, deacons, seminarian intern, and staff at Our Lady of Mercy parish welcome you today to celebrate Easter Mass!! No matter if you worship here weekly or occasionally, are from out of town, are not Catholic or Christian, have been away from the Church, weak or doubting in faith, have been hurt by the Church, have not been living the best moral life, have been searching – you ALL are made to feel WELCOME! And not just today, but always! We are here for you! And, we want to help you experience a life changing encounter with the Risen Lord. Please feel free to reach out to me or Fr. Mark by phone or e-mail –we would love do whatever we can to facilitate your encountering the Risen Lord.

Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and our faith that through baptism we too will live beyond our death. But have we ever considered that, because of the resurrection, new life a reality now – that we have already begun to participate in our eternal life. For three days (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter) we have been immersed in the Pascal Mystery of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus – not just recalling historical events of 2,000 years ago, but entering the mystery of what is now happening among us as an Easter people called to conversion. Easter celebrates not history, but mystery. So what is happening among us now that are signs of resurrection and new life? Three people have been so moved by their experience of welcome and community at OLM, that after a period of prayer, discernment and instruction, last night at the Easter Vigil they became members of our Catholic Christian community through baptism, confirmation and sharing in the Eucharist. Five already baptized Christians became Catholic by a profession of faith, confirmation and Eucharist and five Catholics were confirmed at the Easter Vigil. We welcome them with great joy! The Spirit moved 38 men and 54 women to participate in recent CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish) retreat weekends at OLM – the largest number of participants ever! Over 1,600 families are using the parish App and the online platform FORMED to grow in their faith and spiritual life. While all of these are some signs of new life at OLM, ultimately Easter calls us to a personal encounter with the Risen Lord – an encounter that stops us dead in our tracks and changes our life forever! And while that encounter is different for each individual – the effects are similar….a burning desire to bring others to meet Jesus – the one who loves us unconditionally, accepts us, forgives us, and gives us new life now – you don’t even have to wait until you die! So this Easter, roll away the rock and let your risen self out of the tomb!

On behalf of Fr. Mark, Deacon Art, Deacon Bob, Deacon Mike, Deacon Phil, Deacon Tim, Deacon Tony, our seminarian intern Senovio, and all the staff at Our Lady of Mercy, I wish you many blessings, not only on this Easter Day, but throughout the 50 days of the Easter Season!


Palm Sunday

Today begins the most solemn week in the Christian world. This should not be just another same ole week like all the rest. This week should be lived as if your life depended on it!! And it fact, it does! The life giving events of our salvation are remembered and celebrated in three days called the Sacred Paschal Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good  Friday, Easter Vigil). Many understand these three days to be a re-enactment of the historical events – that Holy Thursday commemorates the day Jesus instituted the Eucharist; Friday, commemorates the day he was executed on the cross; and the vigil commemorates his emergence from the tomb. But to make these sacred three days truly meaningful, we need to see them in a different light. Precisely because these faith-anchoring events are historical, they cannot be repeated or “re-enacted.” That is why the church’s long tradition insists that what happened once in history passes over into the mystery of our liturgical and sacramental celebrations. What the Sacred Paschal Triduum actually celebrates is mystery, not history. The liturgies of these days do not “take us back” to the upper room or the path to Calvary. Their ultimate purpose is not to retrace or relive the last hours of Jesus’ life, nor catch sight of him emerging from the tomb at Easter’s dawning. They celebrate not what once happened to Jesus but what is now happening among us as a people called to conversion, gathered in faith, and gifted with the Spirit of holiness. They celebrate God’s taking possession of our hearts at their deepest core, recreating us as a new human community broken like bread for the world’s life – a community, rich in compassion, steadfast in hope, and fearless in the search for justice and peace. And so, with this perspective, Fr. Mark and I cordially invite you and yearn for your joining us in celebrating three days of sacred mystery!

The Sacred paschal Triduum

Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper – March 29th at 7:00PM
Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion – March 30th at 7:00PM
The Easter Vigil in the Holy Night – March 31st at 8:00PM

If you can’t make the Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday evening, we look forward to seeing you at one of our Easter Sunday Masses. Please note that our Easter Sunday schedule is different from our regular Sunday schedule. Masses on Easter Sunday are at 7:00AM; 9:00AM in church and activity center; 11:00AM in church and activity center; and the last Mass on Easter is at 12:30PM. There will be no 5:30PM Mass on Easter Sunday.

Have a Blessed Holy Week!