All of Us – #201

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

Congratulations "Father” Jin!

Nowadays, it is rare that you meet a young man who is preparing for the priesthood. That is why it has been a real blessing for our parish to accompany our seminarian Jinzhou Zhao these last several months, preparing him for his priestly ordination. 

Now, “Father” Jin, was ordained on Saturday, May 20th at the Divine Word Missionary Center in Techny, Illinois. This is the headquarters for the Chicago Providence. Techny is just one of the many thriving communities in the United States where Divine Word Missionaries live, work and pray. Across the globe, there are more than 7000 active Divine World Missionaries in more than 70 counties. Each year close to 1,000 seminarians prepare for their final stages of formation before ordination.

We are blessed to have Father Jin celebrate his “First Mass” at our parish this Sunday. He will preside at the 9:30 AM Mass. A reception will follow afterwards in the Parish Hall at Immaculate Conception Church. Congratulations Fr. Jin! May God bless you in the years to come!

Summer Mass Schedule

Since Ash Wednesday, March 1st our ushers and sacristans have counted the number of people who come through our doors on the weekend to attend Mass at both Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph churches. On a given weekend our total average is about 587 persons for both places of worship. Note that there are 5 Masses celebrated on the weekend between our two worship sites — three at Immaculate Conception and two at St. Joseph church. The 12:30 pm Mass is our least attended Mass.

The graphic below reflects the average attendance numbers from the past 12 weeks.

One of the realities that come with the summer months is that our Sunday Mass attendance will noticeably dip down as many of our parishioners will be worshiping at other Catholic parishes when they are out of town or on vacation. There is also a noticeable drop in Mass attendance when our Parish School and Religious Education Program take a break for the summer.

The Mass that seems to be most affected by the summer months is the 12:30 pm Mass at Immaculate Conception church. Attendance at this Mass can be very light also due to the fact that more folks during the summer choose to go to an earlier Mass to fulfill their Sunday obligation; either on Saturday night, or Sunday morning. They have expressed to me that they go earlier in order to “be free” on Sunday afternoon.

I posed the following questions to the members of our Parish Council and Pastoral Staff. Is this the best use of our parish resources, volunteers and liturgical ministers? Are we truly being efficient? Can a smaller Mass schedule actually enhance our prayer and liturgical life? Will this solve the problem of celebrating a Mass for a church that is only 25% filled, and the folks in the pews are quiet or reticent in their responses? Is it easier to pray when there are more people around you to share in the experience? Can this actually be an opportunity for parishioners to get to know other parishioners?

Even in my annual review with Bishop Frank Kane, our Vicar, he thought that it would be a good idea to evaluate our Sunday Mass schedule given the size of our parish. 

Our Pastoral Staff and members of the Parish Council have recommended that we test a summer Mass schedule, and evaluate it after Labor Day, when parishioners return and our programs resume. (This is not an uncommon practice in many Catholic parishes in our Archdiocese.) 

Therefore, for the summer, the 12:30 pm Mass will not be celebrated starting on Sunday June 11th. (The last day of school is June 9th.)

My impression is that half of the people who attend the 12:30 pm Mass, attend that particular Mass on a regular basis. There is a sincere concern on how we can help them adjust over the summer. We all know that change is not easy. Plus, from my experience, die-hard Catholics are always in favor of a new Mass schedule as long as no one messes with “their Mass.”

Some things that might help the situation:

  • Perhaps one can attend an earlier Mass at either of our two churches?
  • Our parish offers a Sunday morning Shuttle Service on Sunday for those who cannot walk or drive to church. Ray, our Sunday driver, picks-up a handful of parishioners and takes them to either Immaculate Conception or St. Joseph church, and shuttles them home afterward. Ray is a true saint.
  • Perhaps there are parishioners, who usually attend the Saturday 5:00 pm Mass, who are able to offer a ride to church to their neighbor. It can be our own “ICSJ Uber” service for those who attended the 12:30 pm Mass and want to switch to Saturday night. Next weekend there will be sign-up sheets at Mass to identify who needs a ride, and those who are willing to chauffeur a parishioner to church.
  • Another option would be to attend Mass at one of our neighboring parishes. Holy Name Cathedral has a 12:30 pm Mass on Sunday afternoon. Assumption Parish on Illinois Street has a 5:00 pm Mass on Sunday St. Michael’s parish in Old Town has a 6:00 pm Mass on Sunday. If you have signed-up for our E-Giving program, Gift-Central, you don’t have to worry because your weekly donations automatically are sent to our parish.

Our Parish Council and Staff is interested in your feedback and concerns. You can share them with Kim Morton, at Kim attends the 12:30 Mass, and also serves as a sacristan for that Mass. 

Helping the Poor

Thank you for your support to Catholic Charities last Sunday. The second collection totaled $1,721. Catholic Charities is a true a beacon of hope for many on our neighborhood who are in need. 

– Fr. Larry