All of Us – #146

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     Fr. Larry Lisowski Immaculate Conception St. Joseph Parishes Catholic Church in Chicago

When It All Comes Together

For the past 30 years, whenever parishioners in the pews were polled about whatthey are looking for most when they attend Sunday Mass, their answers have been pretty consistent. What usually tops the list is a sense of welcome, good music, and meaningful preaching. This is what will draw them into a faith community where they feel that they are being spiritually nourished on a regular basis. Hopefully by experiencing good liturgies they will foster a long-term relationship with their Church that sustains them in their journey of faith. I doubt if there are any Catholics today who like a boring, lifeless and meaningless Mass. 

I admire one parish that creatively reduced their Parish Mission Statement down to just three simple words: hymns, homilies and hospitality. That’s an easy mission for folks to remember and embrace. 

Last weekend, I had a good sense that we prayerfully “hit the mark” at Sunday Mass. I was standing in the back of church at the Saturday 5:00 p.m. Mass.  Fr. Larry McBrady delivered a passionate homily that gave those present much to think about during the week. I could also hear the congregation’s heart-felt response to the prayers and songs. There was a sense that the Holy Spirit was truly present and stirring in the minds and hearts of many who came to church.

I celebrated the 11:00 a.m. Mass last Sunday. Brian, our cantor, along with the adult choir sang a beautiful and inspiring version of the Responsorial Psalm. When finished, the congregation automatically applauded as a sign of their appreciation. It was grace-filled moment and I was proud to be a part of it. 

Singing engages our hearts as well as our minds, and God cares about the whole person, emotions included. God wants to breathe life into our spirits, minds and bodies. Singing offers God entry into our whole being in a way that ordinary speech does not. And if we have difficulty opening our hearts, singing can open the pathway for God’s Spirit to move in us. 

 Many parishes try hard to “hit the mark” and provide good liturgies for their congregation. Yes, there are those Sundays when the preacher talks too long and you wonder how everything relates to the scriptures. Yes, there are those Sundays when a song is just hard to follow and we all sound off -key. Yes, there are those Sundays when we have to reach further down to our soul as we struggle to utter an “Amen” or “And with your Spirit.”

The good news is that, with the help of the Holy Spirit and with our willingness, the hospitality, the hymns and homilies can all come together and we encounter the sacred and divine that dwells among us. May this be the hallmark of our parish. 

Catholic Charities

On Sunday, May 8th the annual collection for the Catholic Charities of Chicago will take place on Mother’s Day. You can use the envelope that is attached to the bulletin today. The Catholic Charities of Chicago brings hope and assistance to thousands of people, in Lake and Cook counties, who are in dire need of help. 

I frequently pass the Catholic Charities Center that is located at the corner of LaSalle and Superior. In the late afternoon I will see people lining-up on the sidewalk for the dinner that will be served that day. On some days I have seen nearly a hundred persons of all ages standing patiently in line. This happens practically every day of the year, rain or shine.

Please be as generous as you can toward the Catholic Charities collection. They are in dire need of our financial support especially as much of our state funding has been cut to many non-profit organizations that provide a variety of social services. Thank you for your financial support. 

Transforming Our Parish, Please Read

All registered parishioners have been mailed a brochure about our Parish Transformation Program that describes several initiatives that we want to accomplish in the future. Please read the information very carefully. Extra copies are available in church today if you did not receive the mailing.

This is a critical time for our parish because we need your help and participation to enhance the vitality of our parish. A “Time and Talent” overview explains how you can get involved with the Parish Transformation Program initiatives. There is also a reply card for you to respond about your interests. You can either return the reply card via mail or you can place it in the collection basket next weekend.  Your commitment, big or small, is needed. 

Heading In The Right Direction

Please take the time to read through the information that is provided in today’s bulletin by our Parish Finance Council. It presents the current financial status of our parish, and the challenges we face in the near future. 

Happy Anniversary, “Father”

On Saturday, May 21, five men will be ordained to the priesthood to serve for the Archdiocese of Chicago. We hold them in our prayers as they are sent to serve the Church of Chicago. We also pray for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

The month of May marks the anniversary for many priests. Fr. Larry McBrady celebrates 45 years of service to the people of God. Fr. Pat Lee, my predecessor, this year celebrates his 40th anniversary. I will be ordained 32 years. 

Fr. Ron Hicks, the Vicar General who lives at St. Joseph’s with me, celebrates 22 years of priesthood. Please keep us in your prayers. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen us in all that we do. 

Their Second Holy Communion

You might see at Mass this weekend some young girls dressed in white, and boys with their hair neatly combed and sporting a suit and tie. They are our First Holy Communicants. 

On Saturday we celebrated two First Holy Communion Masses. We welcome our children to the Table of the Lord for their “Second” Holy Communion. What a proud moment for them, their parents and their families. Congratulations! May they always stay close to Jesus, their friend.

– Fr. Larry