What Brings People To Church?
There are certain things that folks are looking for, and even expecting, when they attend Mass or checkout a parish community for the first time. A list of expectations would include a sense of welcome and hospitality; a good homily that applies to their life; a prayerful environment; and good music. These can be the biggest determining factors on whether or not a person will feel excited about returning to worship at the same place next Sunday, and eventually commit to attend on a regular basis.
At all of our Masses this weekend our Director of Music, Kate Ryan, will be conducting a simple in-pew survey asking for your feedback and input regarding our liturgical music. Please take a moment to offer us your reflections.
The timing of the survey is perfect as Kate Ryan, who recently became our Director of Music in July, is trying to get a “spiritual pulse” from parishioners in regard to what kind of music will compliment our prayer. The purpose of the survey is to solicit your thoughts and impressions as we try to enhance our worship and develop our parish music program.
When it comes to “church music” there is a large spectrum of styles and hymns to choose from when creating a repertoire for our Sunday Mass. Songs can run the gamut from Gospel music to Gregorian chant; with a lot to choose from in the middle.
It is important for parish communities to offer a variety of liturgical music on Sunday. Prayer can easily fall into a rut when just the top 10 hymns that folks know and like are used over and over again. Our experience of church can become stale and routine; losing its meaning and freshness. When we gather around the table of the Lord to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist, good music inspires and invites all of us to fully and actively participate in the Mass by joining together in prayer and lifting our voices in song.
This is also a good time to consider becoming a member of our music program. Has God blessed you with a musical gift that you can share with our parish? Do you play a musical instrument? Can you sing? Kate Ryan is trying to expand and develop our choirs, both for adults and our children. Give it some thought this week. Maybe the Holy Spirit is nudging you in this direction. Kate will be more than happy to spend some time with you to answer any questions.
Parish Transformation Program
In my column last weekend I wrote about the Parish Transformation Program that our two parishes and school community will participate in this September. The program will help us to better identify our overall mission and clarify our parish identity. Please read my August 2, 2015 column. I describe in detail the purpose, direction and benefits of the 12-week program that is offered by the Archdiocese of Chicago.
I am grateful for the parishioners who have expressed a willingness to serve on the Steering Committee and the General Team. So far the Parish Transformation Committee consists of:
Mary Ann Rowan
Mary Alice O’Toole
Fr. Larry Lisowski, Pastor
Mark Besztery, Business Manager
Katie Sullivan, School Principal
Maria Hill, School Principal
Mary Beth May, Director of Religious Education
Kate Ryan, Director of Music
Gone This Summer?
Our Sunday Mass attendance during the summer months naturally and visibly dips down as many parishioners travel out of town for their summer vacations. Some families are gone from Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph parishes for several weeks. Pastors that I know in near-by parishes in Wisconsin and Indiana joke with me about how their pews are noticeably filled with many Catholics from Chicago.
A young man said hello to me after Mass a few weeks ago. I had not seen him, or his wife, for about six weeks. I gently asked, “Where have you been? ”
He replied, “Father it has been crazy. We had to attend a lot of out of town weddings this summer. I’m glad that we finally have a weekend where we get to stay home and come to church here on Sunday.”
He then mentioned to me how they went on-line to our parish website to fulfill the Sunday contributions that they had missed when they were unable to worship with us on Sunday.
Please note that our Parish Operating Budgets are based on the regular income we receive from our Sunday collection over 52 weeks. We need a consistent Sunday collection to balance our budgets. Thank you for your generosity and support this Sunday, and for all that you do throughout the entire year. Most of all, thank you for praying with us this Sunday.
Getting Ready For School
Our teachers of Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph school returned last week to prepare for the beginning of a new school year. We welcome them back to their classrooms. They are engaged in several long days of Professional Development before their classes resume on Monday, August 24th. We wish them well.
We also remember in our prayers this week those students who will be heading off to college campuses; and their parents who will be helping them settle into their new dorm or residence. It’s a big adjustment. I imagine that lots of Kleenex is used on the ride home after parents drop off their freshman son or daughter.
“Taking It All In”
Hold onto these beautiful August summer days. This is great time of year for hearty Chicagoans who have braved many a rugged winters. Thank you Jesus for the beauty of God’s creation that surrounds us everyday.