God’s Love - Our Response
At the center of every Catholic Church the world over is a crucifix. A crucifix hangs around the neck of untold numbers of people in our world who give no other outward sign of being religious.
In the gospel today, we hear the often quoted verse from John's gospel, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” This is why the crucifix is commonly at the center of every Catholic Church and the heart of our worship, prayer and preaching. The crucifix speaks volumes about our faith and trust in God.
Today we are reminded how crazy God is about us. Jesus, who hangs on the cross shows us God's love. We realize God’s deep desire to experience this love that can powerfully transform our life.
This Lent, how open are we to receive God’s love? May our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and charitable giving allow Christ to freely dwell in our hearts. We are willing to make sacrifices for others because we are mindful of the sacrifice Jesus made for us.
Come To The Feast!
Next Sunday, March 22nd, we will remember and honor the patron saint of our parish, St. Joseph, with our annual celebration of a “St. Joseph’s Table.” The potluck luncheon will take place at 12:00 noon in our school gym located at the Hill Street campus. I hope you, your family and friends can join us for food and fellowship. It is a great way to foster a sense of community between our two diverse parishes. (RSVP here.)
The centuries-old custom of St. Joseph’s Table came about in the Middle Ages, when there was a terrible drought one year in Sicily. The feudal landowners, in desperation, turned to St. Joseph, the patron saint of Sicily and promised him that if the rains would come, they would annually prepare a large banquet in honor of him and invite all the people of the town, especially the poor.
When the rains miraculously came, the landowners set up large banquet tables in the public square and invited all the poor and served them, themselves. After that the practice spread. From then on, centuries later, anyone seeking favors would make a similar promise.
To this day, many churches, including our own parish here at St. Joseph’s, as well as societies and families, carry out this sacred tradition. But since the original purpose was to help the poor, it is always important that through it, some charity be given to the poor and needy.
As part of our Lenten giving of alms, parishioners this weekend are invited to take home a brown grocery bag that can be filled with non-perishable items for the poor. The bags for the poor can be returned on the weekend of March 21st and 22nd. Your donations will help to stock the shelves of our Parish Food Pantry. We are grateful for whatever you can donate.
Looking for the Right Person
Parishioners have asked me what will be the next step as we attempt to fill the Director of Music position for both parishes. The job description has been posted with the Archdiocese of Chicago, De Paul University, Loyola University and Notre Dame University. I have formed a Search Committee of five individuals consisting of myself; Mary Beth May our Director of Religious Education; Nora Collins-Lewis the music teacher for the Parish School; and two persons from the Adult Choir --Joan More and Gaby Dye.
The Search Committee will review the submitted resumes and interview potential candidates. Then the Search Committee will recommend a short list of candidates, about two our three individuals, who will be asked to have a rehearsal with our Adult Choir. The members of the choir will then offer their feedback to the Search Committee as to whom they think will be the best fit.
This staff position is a hard one to fill because we are looking for a candidate to possess four essential skill sets. They need to have a good solo voice, play the organ and piano, and be able to direct a choir. A candidate might come in having only two of the four skill-sets, or three of the four skill-sets. It’s a blessing if the candidate can match all of the four requirements.
During this time of transition, we will rely on a mixture of substitute musicians, some from other neighboring parishes, to play at our Masses until a new Music Director is hired. This may take several weeks. Some candidates are finishing up their academic studies, and others are already committed to playing for Holy Week and Easter in parishes.
Also, keep in mind that during this time of transition things might be “musically bumpy” as substitutes come in and out for our liturgies. This may be their first visit to Immaculate Conception or St. Joseph church.
I joked with one parishioner last Sunday after Mass and said, “Well, if we get really desperate we might resort to passing out kazoos on Easter morning. Wouldn’t that sound interesting?
Seriously…. Please pray hard for the work of the Search Committee. May God send us the right person who can lead us in our celebration and worship. Providing good music makes a big difference. It can determine if someone will come back next Sunday to worship with us.
Support Our Scouts
Our Girl Scout Troop #23030 will be selling cookies this weekend after the 5:00 PM Mass at Immaculate Conception Church and after the 11:00 AM Mass at St. Joseph’s Church. Please help to support the good work that they do for our community. (You can actually buy a couple of boxes of cookies and put them in your St. Joseph’s grocery bag as a donation for the Food Pantry. It’s a win- win situation!)
After Easter, two seasons are launched. First, baseball fans are filled with hope and promise when the first pitch on Opening Day zips across home-plate. Secondly, our parish enters into the “wedding season” with brides and grooms eagerly anticipating their wedding day. The number of weddings is on the rise this year for our parishes.
I am in real need of volunteers who can help serve as wedding sacristans. Sacristans assist at the rehearsal (usually scheduled the night before) by preparing and practicing with the bridal party. They also assist families on the day of the wedding.
Training will be provided. Please contact me at the parish office if you are interested in this ministry. Our goal is to make the whole experience of being married in the Catholic Church a positive one as we show our hospitality and welcome to those embracing the vocation of marriage.