From the Pastor’s Desk

Now Known as Chardonnay W(h)ines!

June 24, 2018 The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

This weekend we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the founding of our parish.  On June 22, 1988 Bishop Joseph Imesch established our parish and appointed Father Gerald Tivy as the founding pastor.  The newly created parish was first known as The Catholic Community of Fox Valley but was soon after, the overwhelming sentiment of the parish decided Our Lady of Mercy would be our identity. The first Mass for the newly founded parish was celebrated on August 20, 1988 at Waubonsie Valley High School. Father Tivy undertook the pastoral responsibility of forming and expanding a new community of faith as well fundraising for the building of a permanent place for that community to worship.  On September 20, 1997, a little more than nine years after the founding of our parish, the beautiful church we worship in today was dedicated by Bishop Imesch.  We thank Fr. Tivy, his staff, and all those founding families and those who joined the parish in those formative years for the sacrifices and dedication it took to build a community of faith and place to worship!

In 2000, after serving as pastor for 12 years, Fr. Tivy was transferred and Fr. Hugh Fullmer was appointed pastor.  During the 17 years Fr. Hugh served as pastor, the parish community continued to grow spiritually and in membership with the addition of many programs and outreach.  Also the need for permanent meeting space for RE classes, social events and parish meetings became apparent.  Fr. Hugh undertook a capital campaign to build the Parish Life Center.  Completed in 2007, the Parish Life Center is used to capacity today, with rarely an evening without something going on in the PLC.  Fr. Hugh is responsible for establishing Aurora’s longest running carnival event….MercyFest!  An event he took great delight in!  So thanks to Fr. Hugh and his staff of the 17 years he served as pastor for all their hard work at continuing to build a community of faith and service as well as building the PLC we all enjoy today.

And so it is, that one year ago on June 21st that Fr. Mark and I were appointed to serve the parish community of Our Lady of Mercy.  We have enjoyed getting to know many of you and truly appreciate the support and affirmation you have given us.  As Fr. Hugh always told me, Our Lady of Mercy is a great parish.  And it certainly is.  It is Fr. Mark’s and my vision that we continue to build here….not in physical facilities, but to build a community of ever growing disciples.  We want all who come here, parishioner or not, to experience a life changing encounter with Jesus.  To do that, we are shifting from maintenance or maintaining mode to MISSION mode.  We want to evaluate everything we do here in light of how what we are doing (programs, ministries, etc.) create the opportunities for encountering Jesus.  We will be starting Alpha in the fall – a series for anyone with questions about life, faith, God, Jesus, purpose to come together and share a meal and discussion.  In the mission mode, we want to reach beyond the doors and boundaries of Our Lady of Mercy to share the good news with those who don’t know Jesus or have fallen away from the Church.  This is a huge building project!  Not of bricks and mortar, but of something that will endure even longer – FAITH!  We look forward to your help!

Have a Blessed Week!

Father Don


June 17, 2018 Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time

This Father’s Day I would like to congratulate two fathers from OLM who have been approved and welcomed by Bishop Conlon to begin a four-year program of studies, spiritual formation and discernment to be ordained a permanent deacon. Parishioners Douglas McIlvaine and Rodney “Bugsy” Sindac will begin studies this August. This is a huge commitment!  Between August of this year and May of next year they will meet for 59 classes on Monday and Thursday evenings for two hours each at the Blanchette Center in Crest Hill.  And not only that, their wives are required to attend some of the classes and an annual retreat.  So, I thank Doug and Amy, Rodney “Bugsy” and Maria “Happy” and families for their generosity and commitment of time it takes to becoming a permanent deacon.  Assuming they complete the four-year program successfully and receive a positive recommendation from those responsible for their formation, Doug and Rodney would be ordained in 2022.  Please keep them in your prayers!

This past Mother’s Day, I shared with you some personal recollections about my mother and the fact that I had three mothers!  So, a bit about my father Thomas.  He was one of those guys who just couldn’t live without a woman in his life!  I was 5 when my mother died the day after Christmas. The following November my dad married the woman who I really grew up knowing as mom. Several years after she died, at age 77 my father married again!  I was a priest for 5 years and officiated the wedding. Not many priests can say they officiated their dad’s wedding!  Born in 1909 he lived through the great depression.  Like many who lived through those days, he was a very frugal man and didn’t buy anything he couldn’t pay cash for – even his cars!  He never owned a credit card! To this day, the only thing I have ever bought making monthly payments is my car and a piano.   He was a very hard working man, coming home late many nights.  He was self-employed in the air-conditioning and refrigeration business.  In his later years before retirement he worked for a company installing commercial walk-in refrigerators and freezers.  When I was in high school he took me one summer to Atlanta when he installed the units at the new Atlanta stadium (now torn down and replaced).  He was a man of quiet faith.  He was an usher at church and belonged to the Holy Name society doing service projects at the church and community.  He was a very active member of the Knights of Columbus and a past grand knight.  During the 60’s he chaired the Knights of Columbus Catholic Information booth at the Indiana State Fair.  He got permission for Mass to be celebrated at the fairgrounds for the workers and farmers.  He got permission too for the nun who played the organ at our parish to come play for Mass at the fairgrounds.  And in those days, nuns always had to travel in pairs, so I have a lot of pleasant memories of taking the nuns to the state fair! He was related to the Allison family of Indy 500 fame.  He stopped going to the race each year when he said that the cars were going so fast he couldn’t read the numbers on the car! He enjoyed surprising my mom and me with little and big things….like a color television set when they first came out.  He was a very quiet but kind man.  He died in 1995.

So on this Father’s Day, may God bless all our father’s living and deceased!

Father Don

June 10, 2018 Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

On Saturday, May 27th Bishop Conlon ordained seven new priests to serve at parishes in the Diocese of Joliet.  We congratulate and pray for them in their first assignments:  Fr. Ryan Adorjan (St. Raymond Cathedral – Joliet), Fr. Max Behna (St. Michael – Wheaton), Fr. John Horan (St. John Paul II – Kankakee), Fr. Jesus Martinez (St. Andrew – Romeoville), Fr. Michael McMahon (St. Mary Immaculate – Plainfield), Fr. Anthony Nyamai (St. Mary, West Chicago), and Fr. James Olofson (St. Dominic – Bolingbrook). May God bless them and the people they will serve.

I also wish to offer congratulations to all our parishioners who have graduated from university, college and high school in the last several weeks.  May your futures be bright and may you keep close to the Lord Jesus as you journey through life.

I have some new improvements to tell you about.  First, after months of work by parishioner Zara Tan and Fr. Mark designing and writing content, our new parish website has been launched.  A huge thank you to Zara who was the primary lead and creator of the website.

Also, the PLC now has WI-FI. Video screens to keep you informed about upcoming events are soon to be installed in the narthex of the church and the lobby of the Parish Life Center.  Some new important safety features have also been installed.  We now have video cameras monitoring and recording the hallways of the PLC and entrances to the church and PLC and the Eucharistic Chapel. Previously there has been no way to communicate an emergency situation (tornado, intruder, etc.) throughout the PLC.  Speakers have now been installed throughout the hallways of the PLC and announcements that will be heard throughout the PLC and classrooms can be made from parish and RE office phones.  All these improvements are possible because of your generous financial support of OLM.  Thank you!!

Friday, June 22nd is the 30th anniversary of the creation of Our Lady of Mercy parish.  Please join in the celebration!!  Be a part of the new parish family photo directory.  Photography sessions will take place June 26 – 30 and July 10 – 18.  Call the parish office to make an appointment.  If you can’t make any of these dates, you can have your picture taken at another parish.  Again, call the parish office for info.

The weekend Masses on June 23/24 will celebrate the parish anniversary.  In 30 years, we have become many – from 200 families in 1988 to over 3,800 families today – but we are one!  Celebrating our ethnic diversity, there will be desserts of various ethnic traditions in the Parish Life Center following all Masses.  On Sunday, June 24th from 1:00pm to 5:00pm there will be food trucks in our parking lot with a variety of food choices.  Get your food and drinks and have a picnic on the church grounds.  Tables will be set up outside and inside in the PLC.  Grab some food after the 12:30pm Mass or before the 5:30pm Mass or anytime in between – and let’s celebrate!!

Have a Blessed Week!

Father Don

June 3, 2018 The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Today we celebrate the foundational Catholic truth that Christ is present, really present, in the Eucharist.  In the past, and even today, much theological time and effort is spent on trying to understand how Christ is present in the bread and wine.  I think it is more important to ask the question why Christ is present.  This wondrous gift of the Eucharist allows Christ to be present for our benefit – present to help us live.  How does the Eucharist help us live?  We proclaim it in the mystery of faith….”Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Christ has died.  We remember in this meal the tremendous love by which Christ gave his life for our salvation.  Dying is about letting go.  As we encounter in the Eucharist the Christ who died for us, he imparts to us the power of letting go of those aspects of our life that hold us back.  What are the things that hold us back?  Each of us must answer that question from the circumstances of our lives.  Perhaps we must let go of resentment or hurt or self-indulgence or addiction or prejudice or pride.  Each time we come to this meal we set those obstacles before the Lord, and the Christ who gave his life for us enables us to let go of whatever hinders us.

Christ is risen.  Here is the center of our faith.  We believe that the love and goodness of God was so real in the person of Christ that God conquered event death.  As we encounter the risen Christ in the Eucharist he gives us the power to see the goodness that is a part of our life and our world.  How easy it is for us to center on what is wrong, what is broken, what has failed.  In doing so we discount all the goodness and blessing that surround us in our lives.  What could be a greater waste than to be a blessed and loved person and never claim and celebrate that gift?  So each time we come to this meal and encounter the risen Christ we receive the strength to be thankful for the people who love us, for our health, for our talents, for the beauty of the world around us.  We pray for the risen Christ to make us always conscience of those gifts and never take any of them for granted!

Christ will come again.  Although Christ is risen, the victory of Christ is not yet complete.  Evil, injustice, violence, and hatred remain as a part of our world.  They touch our lives.  But we as a community believe Christ will come again, and when he comes the ultimate victory will be won and all evil will be destroyed.  So each time we encounter the Christ who will come again in the Eucharist he gives us the strength to hold on, to hold on in hope.  This strength allows us to believe that whatever troubles we must face God has not forgotten us and will not abandon us.  In this Eucharist meal we pray that Christ will allow us to hold onto hope, even in the midst of family troubles, in the midst of sickness, in the midst of discouragement and failure, and yes even in the shadow of death.

The good news of the Eucharist is not only that Christ is present, really present, but that Christ is present for our benefit, present so that we might live!

Have a Blessed Week!

Father Don

May 27, 2018 The Most Holy Trinity

Fr. Don asked me to write for Heidi Howls this week as this Sunday marks my one year anniversary as a priest. The seminary, I believe, prepared me well, or at least, as much as the seminary is able. It has become apparent to me during my first year as a Priest that there are things that the seminary just can’t prepare one for—one of those things, of course, is the seminary failing to teach me how to live with a dog that sheds more than a….well, anything I have ever seen.

There is no way the seminary can prepare a man for everything he is going to experience in his first year as a priest. Ministering in tragic situations; burying children; ministering to countless heartaches….no shot. But that’s okay. It doesn’t need to. It doesn’t need to because of what happened one year ago this weekend. After Bishop Conlon laid his hand on my head, he said the words of priestly consecration. He called forth the Holy Spirit and I was changed. I was now tapped into a new power that would always be present when I called upon it. The seminary can’t “teach” this: “With the sacramental outpouring of the Holy Spirit who consecrates and sends forth, the priest is configured to the likeness of Jesus Christ, head and shepherd of the Church, and is sent forth to carry out a pastoral ministry….The sacrament of holy orders confers upon the priest sacramental grace which gives him a share not only in Jesus’ saving “power” and “ministry” but also in his pastoral “love.” At the same time it ensures that the priest can count on all the actual graces he needs, whenever they are necessary and useful for the worthy and perfect exercise of the ministry he has received.”

 These words from St. John Paul II’s Pastores Dabo Vobis are comforting to say the least. The demands and trials of the priesthood calls one forth to greatness (just as the trials and demands of marriage and the other vocations calls one to greatness). That greatness, we often times do not reach. In the face of those demands and trials we become acutely aware of our failures and weaknesses. In this spot of weakness is where Jesus wants to dive in and go to work. In this spot of weakness is where Jesus wants us to know that we can count on Him. During this first year, I have “counted” on Him and leaned on Him time and time again.

That being said, the joys of my first year as a priest have been so much greater than I could have imagined. As I mentioned in a homily a few weeks ago: I love being a priest! I love being your priest.

Much has been made over the tears I shed when I found out I was assigned to OLM. Aurora?!? Where is that? Diocese of Rockford? Now, I can’t imagine having been sent anywhere else. OLM is now home. Thank you! Thank you for all your support and encouragement. Thank you for your prayers. Most of all, thank you for teaching this guy fresh out of the seminary how to be a priest.

In Him,

Father Mark