Blessed With The Gifts of the Spirit
Years ago I was in Ireland to celebrate a wedding for good friends of mine. This was my first trip to the “holy land.” The wedding took place in the small town of Carlingford, which is about an hour north of Dublin.
After the Friday rehearsal at church everyone gathered for a dinner at the home of the parents of the groom. The front living room was filled with guests who came from all over for the wedding. The house was noisy with all the people gabbing away. Folks laughed at silly jokes and told old stories about their relatives from the past. The truth was certainly stretched more and more as the night got long.
In the middle of all the merriment a young girl entered into the living room. She looked to be about 10 years old. Her name was Maggie. Her long black hair was neatly tucked under her baseball cap. She hugged her mom and dad who were sitting on the sofa. She just came in from playing outside with her cousins.
Suddenly, Maggie’s father asked her to entertain us. I wondered what he meant as I watched the little girl obediently walk out of the crowded room.
A few minutes later, Maggie returned with a black case. She set it on the floor in the middle of the room. The room went quiet. She flipped the three latches and opened up the top and carefully pulled out a beautiful violin. After a few adjustments, she set the instrument on her shoulder and then began playing a number of traditional Irish tunes without any sheet music. She played with passion and conviction. Her angelic fingers slid up and down the neck of the violin from fret to fret.
The whole room sang and clapped following her lead. I was amazed how the young girl grabbed and held the attention and hearts of all in the room. It was a grace-filled moment of joy.
Maggie had a gift and she used it well. She wasn’t shy or boastful. It was a blessing to see someone find their niche, and use what God has given them.
Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, which is considered the birthday of the Church. We are reminded of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that were given to the apostles at Pentecost; and to us at our Baptism. It is the Holy Spirit that helps us to carry on the mission and ministry of the Church. We rely on the Holy Spirit for wisdom, knowledge, understanding and fortitude. It is the Holy Spirit that fills us with wonder and awe. It is the Holy Spirit that allows us to grow in piety, and to seek good counsel when we are faced with a difficult decision.
We need the Holy Spirit. May we be open to the ways it can fill our life, and unite us in God’s mercy and love. Come Holy Spirit come! May it grab our attention; and don’t let go---like little Maggie.
Renew My Church
For the past several months the Archdiocese has made a serious commitment to plan for the future. In the news, you may have heard of the “Renew My Church” program that Archbishop Cupich has implemented across the Archdiocese in efforts to enhance the vitality of parishes. Please take the time to read the material in today’s bulletin (May 15, 2016) about the Renew My Church program. At the heart of this process is the demand to read the signs of the times and discern where Christ is calling us to fulfill its mission.
There are challenges that the Catholic Church in America faces: decreasing Mass attendance; treasured church buildings in need of repair; declining number of priests, religious, deacons and lay ministers, as many move towards retirement. The goal is that local parishes have the support they need to strengthen their faith communities and live out our mission call in ever more vibrant ways.
We are well ahead of the game as we finalize the combining of Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph parishes. The combining of parishes now increases the viability of being a unified parish. The Archdiocese views our decision to be one parish with two worship sites as an optimistic sign for the future.
The Renew My Church program has also invited Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph parish to look at ways that it can work collaboratively with St. Vincent De Paul, Old St. Michael’s, and St. Teresa’s. How can we support one another? Are there resources that can be shared? In June, I will be meeting with the pastors of these parishes to begin the conversation.
“Just Saving A Few Souls”
Priests are asked to bless many things...cars, boats, pets, houses, rosaries, bibles, statues and other various religious articles. For the past several years, I have been asked to do a prayer service and blessing for a chapter of motorcycle riders at the Chi-Town Harley Davidson dealership in Tinley Park on the first Saturday of May. It is an honor for me to be with those who seek God’s protection and care as they travel the highways and byways this summer on their “iron.”
Of course the priest is always the most clean-cut guy in a group of bikers. But, I learned not to be fooled by one’s appearances. Behind the black leather jackets, the colorful tattoos, gray beards and braided pony-tails are grade school teachers, hospice nurses, accountants, grandfathers and God-fearing, every Sunday church going believers. I wouldn’t doubt that the guy pictured below was once top-notch altar boy in grade school.
Let’s Go On A Road Trip
Fr. Arturo Perez and our good friends from our Sharing Parish, Assumption BVM, have invited us to pray and celebrate with them at their 5:00 p.m. Mass on Saturday, June 11th. A reception will follow afterwards so that we can share some food and fellowship.
Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph will provide transportation to and from Assumption parish, located at 26th street and California. The bus will depart from the Hill Street school parking lot at 4:00 p.m. and will return around 8:00 p.m. Please call either Parish Office to reserve a seat on the bus.
As part of our trip to our Sharing Parish, we will be collecting food for their food pantry. You can take a brown bag home with you from church today. Please return your donation by June 10th so that we can pack the bus.
It is not uncommon for our parishioners to worship at another Catholic parish on a given weekend. They might be traveling on vacation, or gone to a warmer climate for the winter months, or visiting family and friends out of state for a wedding or a baptism on the weekend.
Our parish’s Operating Budget relies heavily on the 52 Sunday collections taken throughout the year, plus the major holy days like Christmas and Easter.
Please consider enrolling in our electronic giving program called Give-Central, that allows you to keep your Sunday contributions uninterrupted when you are away from the parish.
Electronic giving is a very convenient form of stewardship and an account is easy to set-up with the parish of your choice. You can enroll for Give-Central on our parish website. More information about Give-Central is also included in the bulletin today. Thank you for your generosity and support to our parishes.