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From the Pastor's Desk

From the Pastor's Desk

October 22, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

I would like to express my gratitude to Fr. Joe Simburger, my classmate, for being here this weekend. I always look forward to the annual gathering of the Equestrian Order of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. His willingness to be here gave me the opportunity to be able to go to Indianapolis for the weekend. I will be returning sometime on Monday. Fr. Simburger is staying an extra day and will be here for Monday morning Mass. Once again, thank you!  November 2nd is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed. Commonly known as All Souls Day, it is a day the church remembers and prays for all who have died.  Each year it is a tradition in our parish to remember those who have died during the past year at a Mass the weekend before All Souls Day. This year’s Memorial Mass will be celebrated at the 10:30 Mass next Sunday, October 29th. I have presided over thirty-five funerals this year and each name will be read and a candle will be lit to honor their memory. Family members or friends are invited to come up to light the candle as their loved one’s name is read. Let perpetual light shine upon them and may they rest in peace.  The month of November begins with the Solemnity of All Saints, a Holy Day of Obligation. Masses on Wednesday, November 1st, will be at 8 AM and 7 PM.  Mark your calendars.  Last Sunday evening I had a delightful time with the Neuman Club at SIUE. Bishop Thomas John Paprocki came for a pastoral visit. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner, and after the dinner the bishop spent about an hour talking with the students. He then celebrated the evening Mass. Everyone was excited to have the bishop in our midst. Since August I have been celebrating the 8:00 PM Mass on campus at the very distinctive geodesic dome designed by the famous architect Buckmaster Fuller, a former professor at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. We often have about fifty students (and a few non-students) each week.  These young men and women are away at college and could very easily choose not to go to Sunday Mass, but they come faithfully. Even though it makes for a late night, I love it and look forward to it each week. The faith of these young people energizes me and keeps me going! So, if you are ever wondering, “When is the last Mass I can get to on Sunday?”, come join us at the Religious Center, off parking lot B, SIUE campus, 8 PM every Sunday (while the students are in school). It is one of those hidden gems I am happy to have discovered.  I will be praying for you while I am at the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre gathering. Our Lady of Palestine, pray for us. Blessed Bartolo Longo, pray for you.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

October 15, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

As I write this letter it is Wednesday, October 11.  It is the feast day of St. Pope John XXIII. He was canonized with St. Pope John Paul II in 2015. “Good Pope John”, as John XXIII was often called, was elected Pope in 1958 following the death of Pope Pius XII. He was 76 years old and was considered by many as an interim Pope, one who would quietly sit on the papal throne until the cardinals could choose another at the next conclave. He surprised the cardinals, the Church, and the world when he convened the first Ecumenical Council in a century. The Second Vatican Council began October 11, 1962 and energized the Catholic Church. He set his sights on Christian Unity and “Peace on Earth” (the title of his second encyclical in 1962). He said, “the great desire of the Catholic Church in raising aloft at this Council the torch of truth, is to show herself to the world as the loving mother of all mankind; gentle, loving, patient, and full of tenderness and sympathy for her separated children”. On my first visit to Rome in June 1976 I was privileged to have tickets near the altar for a Papal Mass.  Blessed Pope Paul VI was celebrating Mass in honor of the 13th anniversary of John XXIII’s death. A member of the Roncalli family, Pope John’s younger brother, was present and brought up the gifts. It was an honor to be there. Pope John’s glass coffin in St. Peter’s Basilica is often decorated with fresh flowers. The people of Rome still have a fondness for Good Pope John!  I will be gone next weekend. Fr. Joe Simburger, my classmate, will be here. I am sure you will graciously welcome him and make him feel at home. Since I won’t be back until Monday evening, Fr. Simburger will be here for Monday morning Mass. I will be leaving Friday to drive to Indianapolis for the annual meeting of the North Central Lieutenancy, USA of the Equestrian Order of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. I always look forward to these weekends to renew friendships, learn from some powerful speakers, celebrate some incredible liturgies, and be energized in my ministry. It will be three grace filled days. The Knights and Ladies are part of a Papal  Order dating back almost one thousand years. We were founded at the end of the First Crusade. We pledge ourselves to live holy lives, to pray daily for the peace of Jerusalem, and to support the Christians in the Holy Land. We support parishes, hospitals, a university, schools, etc. The Christians in the Holy Land trace their heritage back two thousand years, to the time of the first Christians. In recent years the tension and fighting has made it very difficult for them. Many have left their homes and moved to other countries. Without help for those remaining, the oldest Catholic parishes in existence might cease to exist. I ask your prayers for the Palestinian Christians. Mary Queen of Palestine, pray for us.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

P.S. If you know of anyone who is interested in becoming Catholic call the office. RCIA will start soon.

 

October 8, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

Last Sunday was a beautiful day as we made our way to St. Patrick Cemetery in Godfrey. It was warm and sunny as a crowd of parishioners gathered to honor Fr. Douglas. I had chosen October 1st to bless his tombstone since it was the Sunday closest to the date of the founding of St. Bernard Parish in 1920. We still have not figured out why there had been no stone on his grave, but there is one now.  The only thing that seems to make sense to me is that he died very soon after the very sudden and unexpected death of Bishop Joseph McNicholas of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. The death of the bishop caught the diocese unprepared and things were a bit chaotic in the aftermath. Perhaps that is why the stone was never placed.  But we will never know for sure. I am thankful to the Juneaux family who had been close friends to Fr. Douglas.  Ann had tried to find the grave and could not since it was not marked. She called the diocese and Fr. Hoefler, the Vicar General, notified me. The stone that was cut is a beautiful tribute to a wonderful priest. I did not realize till I arrived for the blessing that the stone was much larger than the ones for the other priests buried around him. But as founding pastor, he deserves it! If you make a visit it will be easy to identify. The entrance to the cemetery is just past St. Ambrose Church. Turn right into the cemetery and continue till you see the large crucifix to the right. Just beyond that is a very large stone cross marking the grave of BishopJames Ryan, 3rd Bishop of Alton, bishop from 1888 to 1923. He would be the bishop who signed the decree founding St. Bernard Parish. In front of it, slightly to the left, is Fr . Douglas. It will be easy to see which one is his. It would be a very honorable thing to make the pilgrimage to pay respects to such a noble and holy priest. May Fr. Douglas continue to intercede for us.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

October 1, 2017

 

September 24, 2017

 

September 17, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

Thank you for your generosity in the Special Collection for the victims of the hurricanes. Catholic Charities does such wonderful work! They are such a part of the fabric of people’s lives throughout our country that they are already on site when disaster strikes. We know that when we give to Catholic Charities all the money goes where it is most needed. And they will be there on an on going basis. Pray for all who have responded and who are still in the midst of the struggle to help those in need. God bless you It is a long standing tradition in our diocese for the priests of the diocese to gather with the bishop for a convocation. The annual Priests’ Convocation will take place this week beginning Monday afternoon and concluding on Thursday afternoon. Therefore there will be no 8 AM Mass on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. I will be here for Mass on Monday morning as usual. Over the years we have been at many locations around the diocese but this year we will be at Pere Marquette Lodge in Grafton. I’ve always enjoyed our times there. It is such a beautiful setting! We will have Mass and Morning and Evening Prayer together each day. It is always good to visit and catch up with brother priests during meals and in the later evening after things have slowed down. Most of our time is spent in conferences and meetings. The topic this year is the Diocesan Synod.  There have been a number of prayer services, gatherings and meetings over the past several months. A very important meeting will take place next Sunday, September 24th, at 2 PM. It will gather people simultaneously across the diocese in the seven deaneries. The Deanery of Alton, of which we are a part, will gather at Fr. McGivney High School gymnasium in Glen Carbon. All are invited. The Synod Deanery Prayer and Listening Session will begin with an introduction of the session, opening prayer and preliminary remarks from Bishop Paprocki. There will be a review of previous synodal sessions, deanery table conversations on the draft of the Synodal Declarations, and a report from each deanery. The bishop will lead us in a closing prayer.  The format is a video conference. We will be able to see and hear from each deanery. Isn’t technology amazing?  Last April Bishop Paprocki articulated the overall goal of the Fourth Diocesan Synod of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois with the following words:  In order to build a vibrant community of intentional and dedicated missionary disciples of the Risen Lord and steadfast stewards of God’s creation who seek to become saints, I plan to ask the Fourth Diocesan Synod of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois to discuss how the community of Catholic faithful in this diocese can be committed to the discipleship and stewardship way of life as commanded by Christ Our Savior and as revealed by Sacred Scripture and Tradition.  The four pillars of Discipleship and stewardship are: Hospitality, Formation, Prayer, Service.  Pray for the bishop and priests this week and plan to join us next Sunday.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

September 10, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

Long before the current debates over health insurance, a saintly young Catholic priest invited the men of his parish to come together to provide for the widows and orphans. On October 2, 1881, at St. Mary’s Parish in New Haven, Connecticut, Fr. Michael J. McGivney had his first meeting with the men who would form the beginnings of the Knights of Columbus. As a Catholic fraternal order they formed an insurance group that would help the families of their members. Starting with that small group they have grown into the largest Catholic fraternal group and have helped countless people over the last 136 years. They are loyal to the Church and have funded many projects at the Vatican, including the restoration of the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. They have very generously supported the charities of the Holy Fathers. They encourage vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Very soon they will begin their annual Tootsie Roll Drive, which benefits those with intellectual disabilities.  They are one of the cornerstones and greatest supporters of the Special Olympics.  This past summer I became the Chaplain of the local Knights. At my first meeting it was decided to close and sell the old KC building. It has become a very great difficulty to maintain and is in need of major repairs. However, they are not homeless. I invited them home. Their meetings will be in the old St. Bernard’s School with an upstairs room for their own. Fr. McGivney envisioned the order to be parish based, so it is good to have them here in the parish. I encourage any Catholic man to become a member of the Knights of Columbus. It is a noble enterprise. And pray that Servant of God Fr. Michael J. McGivney may continue on the road to sainthood.  The Tootsie Roll Drive is next weekend.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

September 3, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

I remember when Labor Day signaled the end of summer with school starting soon after. But now with schools starting so early Labor Day is almost a needed break already. But the pace does pick up once September starts.  My calendar is beginning to fill up.  This Tuesday the meetings begin as I travel to Springfield for a luncheon meeting at the Pastoral Center. I have been elected to serve on the Presbyteral Council.  Presbyter is a Greek word meaning priest. This is a representative group of priests from throughout the diocese that meets with the bishop each month. Mandated by Canon Law it is one of several advisory groups from which the bishop seeks advice. As a member of this council I will be a little more aware of what is going on in the diocese. I had served on the Presbyteral Council for several years twentyfive to thirty years ago. I consider it an honor though I’m not looking forward to the extra driving.  I’ll be back Tuesday evening for a 7:00 PM Pastoral Council Meeting at the rectory. This council is advisory to the pastor on a parish level. Pastoral refers to the work of pasturing the sheep. This council, also mandated by Canon Law, helps the pastor to stay in better touch with the people of the parish, enabling him to be a more compassionate and caring pastor. I have always enjoyed meeting with people in this way. I find it to be very positive for everyone.  On Thursday I’ll be having lunch at Marquette High School in Alton. It is a chance for pastors to see the school and get to know it a little better. It is great to have a Catholic high school so close by. What an opportunity we have.  Then on Friday evening I’ll be going to the Villa Maria, the diocesan retreat center on Lake Springfield, for another meeting. This one is a meeting of the supervisors for the new class of permanent deacon candidates. Norm Frisch, of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Bethalto, will be working with me while continuing education and formation with the diocese. He has several years before he will be ordained but his work in the parish is part of his formation. A permanent deacon is an ordained deacon, however, he will not be ordained a priest. Thus the term“permanent deacon”, always a deacon. I will know more about his duties and the diocesan expectations for him after the supervisors meeting. I am looking forward to working and praying with Norm. He comes with great recommendations. May God bless him in his journey, and may God bless us as a parish as we accompany him on that journey.  Beginning on August 20th I started working with the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at SIUE. Each Sunday evening while the students are in residence I will be celebrating an 8 PM Mass in the Fuller Dome. I’m excited for this opportunity to work and pray with the students. Pray for me and for them.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

August 27, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

The Liturgy is the work of the people of God. It is through the celebration of the liturgy that we praise God.  Usually when the word liturgy is mentioned we think of the Mass. And, yes, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the way we most often experience liturgy. The Liturgy of the Church, however, involves much more. Each time we celebrate one of the seven sacraments we are celebrating liturgy. When the official prayer of the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours, is prayed, liturgy is celebrated. By its very nature liturgy is public and communal. Even when I pray my breviary (Liturgy of the Hours) by myself, I am never alone. My prayer is united with the prayer of others, wherever they may be. Even when a priest celebrates Mass without a congregation he is not alone. He is surrounded by all the angels and saints. The sacrament of Penance, though it includes a private confession of sins to a priest, is still a communal celebration of our collective need for forgiveness.  Each of he sacraments is a celebration of the community.  I was recently talking to Tamara Kerkemeyer about her upcoming wedding to Jeff Durbin. She told me that growing up in St. Bernard Parish she and her family seemed to know everyone. But budget restraints prevent her from inviting everyone to her reception. She cannot afford food and drink for the entire parish. However, she would love to have the entire parish at her wedding to help her celebrate.  So all of you are most cordially invited to the wedding of Tamara Kerkemeyer and Jeff Durbin here at Holy Angels next Saturday, September 2, at 1:30 P.M. (Just be aware that she is not going to feed you or expect a gift!) In the Order for Celebrating Matrimony, the opening address says this “We have come rejoicing into the house of the Lord for this celebration, dear brothers and sisters, and now we stand with Tamara and Jeff on their wedding day. For them this is a moment of unique importance. So let us support them with our affection, with our friendship, and with our prayer as their brothers and sisters.” The whole parish is a part of this sacred moment as we offer our prayerful support. Please join us in celebrating.  Fr. Michael Friedel and Tamara went to school together and she has asked him to concelebrate with me. It will be his first wedding! I’m excited for him. She and Jeff were at his 1st Mass in May. Another twist involves the groom.  Jeff is from Decatur and I have known his family my whole life.  The Wolford family and the Durbin family were both charter members of Holy Family Parish. Jeff’s aunt and uncle live around the corner from my house in South Shores, close to Holy Family Church. It is a small world!  Our God draws us together in his love. May we always rejoice as we share God’s love.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

August 20, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

At Masses last Sunday the first reading was from the first Book of Kings. It is one of my favorite little stories from the old testament. Elijah is told that God will be passing by. He doesn’t see him in the big, spectacular things,like a strong heavy wind, an earthquake, or a fire. But rather, Elijah senses God in the tiny whispering sound. Sometimes we might miss the subtleness of God. However, at the end of the 10:30 Mass, I was anything but subtle! Just before communion, while standing at the altar, I collapsed and was out cold!  A little background information: about 20 years ago I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes and have been under a doctor’s care ever since. I have been able to control my sugar pretty well with medicine and shots, but a little over a year ago, just before I moved to Holy Angels, my doctor sent me to an endocrinologist in Springfield. This is a doctor who specializes in treating patients with diabetes.  He gave me some great help in better managing my diabetes. This past Spring he told me I would be an excellent candidate for a trial drug. I started it in May. It is a double blind trial, which means you don’t know if you are getting the real drug or a placebo. After a short time my blood sugar levels convinced me I was taking the real thing!  My doctor has been adjusting the amount of insulin I take, but diabetes is a balancing act. It seems this last week my sugars got a little off balance and were going too low.  My doctor and I agree that is what happened Sunday morning. I got through 8 o’clock Mass OK. But I did notice I was beginning to sweat (one of the symptoms of low sugar). I had some breakfast after Mass but must have taken too much insulin. At the beginning of 10:30 Mass I was beginning to miss words, but I got through my homily. The sweating and the shaking and the trembling got worse as Mass went on. As I went up to the tabernacle I stumbled and struggled to get up. Then I came back to the altar and don’t remember anything until I woke up on the floor surrounded by worried people. A nurse from the parish was kneeling by my side and I could tell she knew what she was doing. I kept focusing on her as she asked me questions and checked my vitals. Soon she was giving me orange juice and a glucose tablet. I was beginning to feel a little better.  The firemen arrived and gave me some liquid glucose and checked my blood sugar. It was still a little low. So when the ambulance arrived I decided to hitch a ride to St. Anthony’s Hospital (sisters love taking care of priests).  In the emergency room they gave me an IV and did an EKG and a chest x-ray. After a couple of hours I was feeling strong enough to get a ride home. I went to a birthday party - I knew there would be food and I needed to eat. After that I went back to the rectory and put my feet up and put ice on the knee I hurt in the fall. Then I rested. It had been an exhausting day!  I have been in contact with my doctor this week and we have decided to cut back on the amount of insulin I’m taking. I now have glucose tablets in the sacristy for emergencies. I am closely monitoring my sugars and I feel I am doing much better.  I thank you for the quick action that day, the love, the concern, the compassion, but most of all the prayers! I am so sorry I put you through the trauma. That has never happened to me before. I am back on my feet and am doing fine. With your help and prayers we will all be fine.  God was certainly with me. Had that happened when I was alone I’m not sure what would have happened. Mary,  Mother of God, pray for me. God protect me and be with me. But next time could you make me a little more subtle and a little less dramatic?

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

August 13, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

I just got a text from my sister, Marianne. She is not coming to do the Wood River Triathlon this weekend.  She hurt her leg on her last run, so she decided she better take it easy for awhile. She really wanted to be here. She is disappointed and so am I. She said she will come for a visit another time. She is already planning to be here for next year’s race.  This Tuesday, August 15th, is the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is a Holy Day of Obligation. Masses on Tuesday will be at 8 AM and 6:30 PM. This feast is not just a remembrance of something that happened long ago and far away, but it is significant for here and now. It is a celebration that fills us with hope. Mary is the model of all disciples. She is sinless and full of grace. That grace is a gift we are given in our baptism that we strive to live fully each day.  By her “yes” to God’s choice of her to be the Mother of God, Mary opened the way to salvation. Our “yes” to God’s invitation to us leads us to holiness. Mary “treasured these things in her heart.” We treasure in our hearts the words of Jesus and we read, reflect on, and pray with the words of the scriptures. Mary was close to Jesus through his life. We try to imitate her by staying close to Jesus our whole life. Mary was present in the Upper Room with the Apostles and received the Holy Spirit. We welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives as we dedicate our lives to Jesus. At the end of her life on earth Mary was taken body and soul into heaven. We are given hope on this feast day that we may one day share heaven with Mary. As the Preface for the feast tells us, “For today the Virgin Mother of God was assumed into haven as the beginning and image of your Church’s coming to perfection and a sign of sure hope and comfort to your pilgrim people.” Mary, Our Ladyof the Assumption, pray for us.  Are you ready for the Total Eclipse of the Sun?!?  Prepare for the awe inspiring manifestation of God’s glory in nature. Coming soon . . . August 21st. May the glory of God never be eclipsed in our hearts.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

August 6, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

Please join us this Sunday after the 10:30 Mass in the Parish Center for a Pot Luck. As we gather for food and fellowship we will have an opportunity to thank Deacon Aaron Kuhn for his time among us and to bid him farewell.  He will be leaving us Sunday afternoon to spend a little time with his family before he returns to Mundelein Seminary for his last year of studies. We look forward to his priestly ordination next May. Our prayers will accompany him on this final leg of his journey to priesthood. God bless you!  My sister, Marianne, will be visiting next week. Last August, just a little over a month after I had arrived at Holy Angels Parish, I stepped out my front door to pick up my newspaper on a Saturday morning and was surprised to see runners going by the rectory on Acton Ave! I found out it was the annual Wood River Triathlon. My sister loves to do triathlons (running, biking, and swimming) so I called her to tell her about it. She was excited about it and is signed up and ready to go. It will be a thrill for me to actually see her in action. She is very good and usually places very high in her age group. I will be cheering her on!  For part of my grade school years I was taught by the Springfield Dominican sisters, so I have always had a great love for St. Dominic. His feast day is this Tuesday,  August 8th. Dominic was born in Spain in 1170. He entered the Augustinian Canons and preached against the Albigensian heresy in France. They believed in a dual creation - a good god and an evil god, and taught that all things of the body are evil and only the soul is good. This heresy gained popularity partly because of a weak and corrupt clergy. St. Dominic and his friars lived a very simple life and preached the truth powerfully. This “Order of Preachers” was called by Pope Honorius III in 1216 “the future champions of the faith and the true lights of the world.” Dominic died in 1221. One of the best remembered Dominicans was St. Thomas Aquinas, the most revered philosopher and theologian of the Middle Ages. Upon completing his famous “Summa Theologica” or the “Sum of All Theology” in 1274, he was heard to remark, “What is this but a pile of straw compared to the beauty and power of the Eucharist!” We still use the Eucharistic hymns he wrote, “Tantum Ergo” and “Salutaris Hostia”, each time we celebrate Benediction. I thank Sr. Mary William, O.P., for teaching me the importance of knowing and speaking the truth. St. Dominic, pray for us.  The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated on August 15th, a week from Tuesday. It is a Holy Day of Obligation. Masses will be at 8 AM and 6:30PM.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

July 30, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

Last Wednesday evening I had been invited to dinner by one of my priest friends in St. Louis. I was overwhelmed when I walked into his house to find a number of priests I had studied with at Kenrick Seminary almost forty years ago! They were from St. Louis, Kansas City, Indiana, and even Florida. Fr. Bob Schneider had come to town from Florida and seeing him was quite a surprise. We had lived across the hall from each other in the seminary and have seen each other occasionally over the years, but the distance and our busy lives don’t allow that to happen often enough. But sharing the gift of priesthood keeps us always close in our hearts. What a wonderful evening it was with such amazing friends.  We pray for and congratulate the seven young women from the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George who this week will be celebrating significant milestones in their vocation journeys. On Wednesday morning at St. Mary’s Church in Alton the community will gather in prayer as they welcome one young woman into the novitiate, three sisters will make their first profession of vows, and three sisters will make their final profession of vows. We ask God’s blessing on them.  I recently received a call from the Diocesan Office for the Diaconate asking if I would be willing to be a supervisor in the Permanent Deacon Formation Program. I gladly agreed and have received a letter from the Director of the Office for the Diaconate assigning Norm Frisch to share pastoral ministry with me. I have met with Norm and I am very excited to be able to work with him. Norm has been very involved in Youth Ministry for years at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Bethalto. He has been in the diaconate program for about six months and has another four years to go. After an informational meeting for the pastor supervisors we will be looking at ministries and duties for Norm. As we accompany Norm on his journey I ask you to welcome him and to pray for him.  After a wonderful summer Deacon Aaron will be concluding his time with us soon. His last day here will be next Sunday, August 6th, so we will be having a farewell reception for him. It will be a pot luck in the Parish Center after the 10:30 Mass. Please join us to thank Deacon Aaron for his time among us and to enjoy some food and time together. Pray for him during his last year of preparation for his priesthood ordination next Spring. Pray also for vocations

!In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

 

July 23, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

Last weekend was most enjoyable! All the Illinois Wolford cousins and all the Pennsylvania Wolford cousinswere together. That does not happen very often. The occasion was the wedding of Jennifer Wolford and Michael Hill.  Jen is the daughter of my cousin, Ed Wolford. We all stayed at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh overlooking the Allegheny River. The wedding Mass was at St. Augustine’s Church in Our Lady of the Angels Parish, a beautiful historic old church that is the bride’s parish. It was a wonderful coming together of the Wolford family and the Hill family. Sunday morning it was a short walk to St.Mary’s Church, an old church in the midst of the skyscrapers of downtown, for Mass where my cousins Ed and Elaine go to Mass every morning before work. Then back to the hotel for brunch with everyone, followed by hugs, kisses, and good-byes to those who were leaving. The crowd of us still remaining walked across the 6th Street Roberto Clemente Bridge to PNC Park to enjoy a delightful afternoon watching the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals play baseball. The crowd erupted in excitement as the Pirates were able to come from behind to win in the bottom of the ninth inning. The newlyweds beamed at the incredible ending to a fantastic weekend. The nine of us remaining later gathered on the terrace of the 14th floor penthouse bridal suite to share pizza and stories as the sun set. What special memories!  Again, thank you to the Conventual Franciscans and Fr. Malek for taking the weekend and making it possible for me to spend time with my family. And thank you for welcoming our mission co-op priest and for your generosity to him. God bless you!  Deacon Aaron was also busy with a wedding last weekend at Our Savior Church in Jacksonville. It was his first wedding. He told me it went very well. I believe he will make a very good priest. We pray for him as he prepares for his priesthood ordination next year.  This Tuesday evening I will be in Jerseyville. On  April 25th Audra Forrester was born in Barnes Hospital in St. Louis with very serious health problems. I baptized her in the neo-natal unit of Children’s Hospital before she went into surgery. Through the skill of surgeons and nurses and countless prayers she did very well and is now at home progressing normally. Her uncle, Paul Kallal, is a member of the Oblates of Mary the Virgin, who staff St. Mary’s Parish in Alton. Brother Paul is studying for the priesthood in Boston and is coming home for a visit. So the Kallal clan will gather as we complete the ceremonies of Baptism. I am thrilled to be able to be part of such a joyous occasion.  Pray for Audra and her family.  As we experience the intense heat of these summer days, we pray for those who are affected, especially the sick and the elderly. And we pray for relief from the heat. God be with us!

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

July 16, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

Every year each parish in the diocese has a missionary speak at weekend Masses as part of the Diocesan Mission Co-op. This weekend Holy Angels Parish welcomes Fr.Matthew Malek, a Conventual Franciscan Friar of Consolation. The Franciscan presence in the missions goes back 800 years to the time of St. Francis himself. Fr. Malek will help us to raise our awareness of the commission given to the Church by Jesus himself to be missionary. He will ask for our prayers for the missions, and he will invite us to make a financial gift to help support the missions. Please be generous in the second collection which will be taken up after communion. May we do our part to spread the good news of the Gospel to the whole world.  At the beginnings of our nation we received missionaries from Europe who tirelessly spent themselves in the service of the Gospel. Their work was so effective that the faith grew strong among the people of America. By the 20th century we were sending out missionaries, particularly to Asia and Africa. Now, in the 21st century, due to the shrinking number of priests from our own people, we are again receiving missionaries from foreign lands. This time they come from India, the Philippines, the nations of Africa, and even Poland. The faith is alive and well, we just need to share it! Pray for missionaries and for vocations to the priesthood and to consecrated life.  I would personally like to thank Fr. Malek for being here this weekend. It gives me the chance to be in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the wedding of my cousin’s daughter. Pray for Jennifer Wolford and Michael Hill as they are united in marriage. I am excited to be able to spend time with the Pennsylvania Wolfords and the Illinois Wolfords. I will be returning Monday afternoon, so there will be no Mass on Monday morning.  Deacon Aaron will be gone this weekend, also. He is doing his first wedding! He had been stationed at Our Savior’s Parish in Jacksonville during his acolyte internship and got to know the couple’s family. Wish him well on the new adventure!  May these summer days offer us a chance to relax and reflect on the overwhelming love of God.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

July 9, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

This Sunday, July 9th, there will be a procession to the grave of Father Augustine Tolton in Quincy. Evening Prayer and Benediction will be celebrated commemorating the 120th anniversary of his death. Fr.Tolton, a priest of our diocese, was the first p ub li cly re cog ni ze d priest in our country of African-American descent. He was born a slave in Missouri in 1854. After his father enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War, his mother escaped with her children across the Mississippi River. They settled in Quincy where the pastor of St.Peter Parish took young Gus under his wing. He was shown prejudice and hatred by many, but he persevered in his studies. He felt called to be a priest but no Catholic seminary in the United States would accept a black student. He eventually went to Rome where he was able to enroll in the Pontifical University for the Propagation of the Faith. It trained young men to be missionary priests. Augustine thought he would be sent to Africa, but the decision was made to send him back to Quincy as the first openly black priest in the United States. Ordained at St. John Lateran Basilica in 1886 he celebrated his first Mass at the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican. On his return to Quincy he was appointed pastor of St. Joseph Church, a new parish for blacks. He did so well that both blacks and whites came to the church. This angered some of the other clergy and people, since many people of the area were still very bigoted.  Eventually he was invited by the Archbishop of Chicago to work at St. Monica’s, a black church on the south side. He poured himself out for his people and died at the young age of 43. He is buried in Quincy and his cause for canonization is ongoing. Servant of God, Father Augustine Tolton, pray for us.  Each year, each parish in our diocese welcomes a missionary to speak at the weekend Masses. Our missionary will be here next weekend. The office for Missions in Springfield tells us there is a three fold purpose of this annual visit.   1. To raise awareness of our membership in a mission church. 2. To ask for prayers for the missions. 3. To solicit financial support for the missions. As Jesus was preparing to return to the Father after his resurrection, he told his Apostles, “Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. And know I am with you always, until the end of the world.” By Jesus’ mandate we are a church that reaches out to share faith. Please welcome our missionary and be generous in the second collection.  I was very happy the missionary priest was available next weekend because I need to be out of town. I will be flying to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a family wedding.  I will be doing the wedding of my cousin Ed & Elaine’s daughter, Jennifer Wolford, as she marries Michael Hill, at Our Lady of the Angels Parish. The wedding is Saturday,  July 15th, the rehearsal is Friday, July 14, so I will be flying out of St. Louis Thursday afternoon, July 13th. The family will be going to a Pirates game on Sunday and I will return to Wood River on Monday, July 17th. I am looking forward to spending time with both the Illinois and the Pennsylvania parts of the Wolford clan. Pray for me and I will pray for you

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

July 2, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

Can it really be a year already? This weekend I celebrate the first anniversary of my arrival at Holy Angels Parish in Wood River! It was last July 1st that Bishop Thomas John Paprocki came here to officially install me as Pastor.  Soon the hours, the days, the weeks, and the months rolled by. I remember after all the preparation, the packing, the saying good-bye, and the moving, how good it felt to know that I was home at last. And the joy has not diminished. I am thrilled to be at Holy Angels as your pastor. It has been a very good year. You have welcomed me so graciously.  During the past twelve months I have baptized infants, given First Communion to 2nd graders, baptized, confirmed, and gave communion to four adults at the Easter Vigil, absolved sins, anointed the sick, celebrated marriages, and celebrated Mass in the midst of God’s holy people. One of the highlights for me was the honor of vesting Fr. Michael Friedel at his priestly ordination and then hosting his First Mass of Thanksgiving and reception. What a joy! I am settling in and have no plans to go anywhere. I hope to be here for a long time. Thank you to all of you for making my first year here such a wonderful one. You are in my prayers and in my heart!  This Tuesday is the Fourth of July. We have so much to be thankful for, especially the freedom to worship. What better way to begin this day than by celebrating Mass? As usual, we will celebrate Mass at 8 AM. I invite all of you to join us. It is actually better than the fireworks in the evening.  As we celebrate our independence from tyranny and oppression we should never forget our utter dependence on God. Our independence is not a freedom from God, but rather a freedom for God.

“Let us pray:  Father of all nations and ages, we recall the day when our country claimed its place among the family of nations; for what has been
achieved we give you thanks, for the work that still remains we ask your help, and as you have called us from many people to be one nation, grant that, under your providence, our country may share your blessings with all the people of the earth.
Happy 4th of July!
 
In Christ,
 
Fr. Don

 

June 25, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

This past Thursday, June 22nd, was the seventh anniversary of the installation of Bishop Thomas John Paprocki as the 8th Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. He chose the feast day of saints John Fisher and Thomas More, the best known of those Catholics who gave their lives rather than submit to King Henry VIII’s takeover of the EnglishChurch in the 16th century. Both were scholars whose Catholic roots ran deep. Thomas was a lawyer who rose to the rank of chancellor of England and one of King Henry’s most trusted advisors. John was a holy bishop. Both men were imprisoned under Henry for refusing to denounce the Pope and deny their Catholic faith. They would not sign the Oath of Loyalty recognizing King Henry as head of the new Church of England that had broken away from Rome, nor the legitimacy of such a church. Both men were beheaded on Tower Hill in 1535. They were declared saints and martyrs by the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Bishop Paprocki
has asked us to use his full name to honor both these patrons of his, one a lawyer, one a bishop. May we always pray for our Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, a lawyer and a bishop. May God bless his ministry. This coming Thursday, June 29th, we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles. On this feast in Rome a pallium is presented to each Archbishop named this past year. The pallium is a strip of white wool with black crosses worn around the neck symbolizing their unity with the pope. The wool used to make these pallia is taken from lambs blessed on the Feast of St. Agnes, January 21st. The finished pallia are kept in a box placed on the tomb of St. Peter in the Vatican, until they are presented to the new Archbishops. Let us pray for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for all archbishops and bishops, and for unity throughout the Church. 
 
This weekend my niece Tammy and her husband Collin, and their three children, Ben, David, and Abby, are coming to visit me. They will be staying with Uncle Fr. Don at the rectory. Sunday evening we will be in St. Louis for a baseball game. They chose this particular game because
the Cardinals are playing the Pirates. Tammy is a Pittsburgh Pirates fan but her husband and all three children are St. Louis Cardinals fans. She comes by it honestly. Her father, my oldest brother Chuck, loved the Pirates. After all he was born in Pittsburgh. I’m actually going to a second game in July when I go to Pittsburgh for a family wedding. I’m looking forward to spending time with family this summer.  May your summer be filled with God’s grace!
In Christ, 
Fr. Don

June 18, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

We celebrate today the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. We reflect today on the incredible gift we have been given in the Eucharist. Jesus offers to us his very body and blood as real food and drink, the same body and blood offered on the cross, the same body broken for us and the same blood poured out for us. The sixth chapter of the Gospel of St. John is an amazing teaching on the Eucharist. I highly recommend and urge you to read the entire chapter from the bible. It forms the basis of our entire understanding of the theology behind out belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As Jesus says, “Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.” Jesus means what he says and we believe what he says. To show our devotion to this sacred mystery the 10:30 Mass today will conclude with a Eucharistic procession and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. In prayer we remember our fathers on this celebration of Father’s Day. The love of our earthly fathers helps us to better understand the love of our heavenly Father. May we always (and not just today) remember to honor and love our fathers and to pray for them. Happy Father’s Day to all our fathers! Prayer is so powerful! In the past several weeks I have received many requests for prayer and have invited others to pray with me. One request came from a family in Jerseyville that I have known my whole priesthood. Kati texted me several months ago that the ultra sound of the child in her womb showed some major problems. Several months of prayer later Audra was born with a large growth on her back. It was not internal, it was not a tumor, it was not cancer, and she was scheduled for surgery a few days later. But before the surgery, within 24 hours of her birth I was very honored and privileged to baptize her in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. Her parents Kati and Brian, and her grandmother Patti gathered around as we prayed and cried. Surgery went well, Audra is home, and we have scheduled the Completion of the Baptismal Ritual for a Sunday in July.  The second request came from Wally and Sandy Ventimiglia for their grandson Dustin. A little over two weeks ago Dustin was seriously injured in an accident at work. He was rushed to St. Louis University Hospital where he was in a coma for several days. With many internal and external injuries he was in critical condition. Prayers poured in from everywhere. I visited him today at the hospital and I couldn’t believe the transformation! He is looking good and is on the long road to recovery He said to thank everyone for their prayers. This Tuesday, June 20th, there will be a benefit for Dustin and his wife Melissa (married at Holy Angels last August) at the Ravanelli’s in Collinsville from 4PM to 8PM. 25% of your bill will go to help them with their overwhelming expenses. Hope to see you there for some good food, good fellowship, and a good cause. The third request came from my niece, Susan, the daughter of my step-sister, Marcia Nuciforo. Susan and her husband Josh Brockman (whose wedding I concelebrated several years ago in Beloit, Wisconsin), were expecting their first born child. A beautiful little girl, Hailey Marie, arrived 2 months premature. She is now in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Milwaukee. She is beginning to gain some weight but is still so tiny. And she is precious! These are just a few of the recent prayer requests. Thank you to all who have joined their prayers together. Prayer is powerful and God is good. Alleluia! I will be doing a wedding in Assumption next Saturday, so I will not be here for Mass that evening. My classmate, Fr. Joseph Simburger, will be here for confessions and Mass. His Uncle and Aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Simburger are always at that Mass each week. It will be a kind of mini family reunion. Please welcome Fr. Simburger and make him feel at home. Thank you.

In Christ.

Fr. Don 

 

June 11, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

After the conclusion of the Easter Season of Pentecost, the Church returns to Ordinary Time. However, before you begin to see green vestments at Sunday Mass there are two big feasts to celebrate. This week we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. The one true God is triune, three persons, one God. We reflect on this mystery as we contemplate the dynamic love between Father, Son, Spirit, which draws us into their loving embrace. Next weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. The Eucharist was instituted at the Last Supper, the night before Jesus offered his life on the cross. There is so much going on during the Sacred Triduum as we commemorate the Paschal Mystery that there is not sufficient time to reflect on the gift of the Eucharist. So Holy Mother Church chose the first free Thursday after the Easter Season to celebrate that mystery. Then later on the Church gave the option of moving the celebration to Sunday so that everyone could take part. So next Sunday will be celebrated as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. One of the ancient traditions associated with that day is a Eucharistic Procession and Benediction. At the end of the 10:30 A.M. Mass next Sunday we will process around the inside of the church carrying the Blessed Sacrament. Then we will return to the altar for Benediction. Please plan to join us as we show our devotion and love to Jesus always present in the Blessed Sacrament. The following Sunday we will return to the green vestments of Ordinary Time. But there is nothing ordinary about Ordinary Time. Every Sunday is still a celebration of the mystery of the resurrection and bread and wine still become the body and blood of Christ. We still gather to give thanks and praise to God for his many gifts and blessings. Ordinary refers not to the mundane but to the ordinal or counting numbers, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc., that are used to number the Sundays of this season. May we always experience the extraordinary love of God in every moment of our lives. God bless you all.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

June 4, 2017

Dear Parishioners,


We’ve made it! We have reached the 50th day of Easter. Pentecost Sunday is the conclusion of the great Paschal 
Season. It is the birthday of the Church, since on that day the promised Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Apostles and Mary as they prayed in the upper room. Empowered and fortified by that Spirit they burst out into the streets crowded with visitors from around the world gathered for the festival of Pentecost. At the dynamic preaching of St. Peter five thousand were baptized that day! The Church had begun with a bang! At the conclusion of Masses this weekend the Easter candle will be carried out in procession, just as it was carried into the church at the Easter Vigil. Though the Paschal Candle will return to its usual place near the baptismal font, we still will be led by the light of Christ shining in our hearts. That candle will be lit for all baptisms and funerals - baptism because it is in the waters of baptism that we die and rise in Christ entering personally into his Paschal Mystery, and funerals because the opening rituals for funerals involve images and reminders of baptism in which we first received the promise of eternal life. Although the Easter Season is ending, the joy of the Lord’s resurrection permeates every Sunday of the year, truly the Lord’s day. What a glorious weekend the people of Holy Angels Parish experienced last week. We give praise and thanks to God that once again one of our own sons was raised to the dignity of the Sacred Order of Presbyters. Congratulations to Fr. Michael Friedel and to his family. Last Saturday, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, Fr. Michael and three other young men of our diocese were ordained priests by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki through the imposition of hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit. What a powerful moment it was as we witnessed them stand before us as priests for the first time. Then on Sunday afternoon as I processed down the aisle with Fr. Michael and my brother priests and seminarians I felt as if I were ascending to heaven with Jesus accompanied by a church packed with God’s holy people raising their voices in joyful praise of God. I thought my heart would burst with joy and pride. I would like to thank all who helped make Fr. Michael’s First Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving and the dinner reception so spectacular. As I sit quietly and pray now my heart is still uplifted and joyful and the smile comes again to my lips. May all glory be to God! As wonderful as these glorious days have been, there is still the need for quiet reflection and prayer. Each year the Church invites her priests to spend time in retreat, to allow the Spirit to recharge and refresh them. Along with Bishop Paprocki and the priests of the diocese I will be leaving this Sunday evening for a weeklong retreat. We will be at King’s House in Belleville. Therefore, there will be no weekday Masses in the parish this week. However, there will be communion services at 8 AM each morning Monday through Thursday. We welcome this week Deacon Aaron Kuhn, who will be with us for the summer. He was recently ordained a transitional deacon for the Diocese of Springfield, which means he is looking forward to being ordained a priest next May. Please help me to make him feel at home as he has the opportunity to experience parish life in our midst. We are excited to have you here, Deacon Aaron Kuhn! Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. Vene Sancti Spiritus!

In Christ,

Fr. Don