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From the Pastor's Desk

From the Pastor's Desk

 

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February 4, 2018

Dear Parishioners,

One of the greatest thrills of my years in the seminary was the opportunity to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The group of twenty-five seminarians and priests traveled for a month led by our Old Testament scripture professor. Each of us did a semester of independent study and then made a presentation at the site we had chosen for our research. It truly was a journey of faith. Every year I am reminded of that experience when Lent rolls around.  Each time I lead the stations of the cross I remember the sights and sounds of the streets of Jerusalem. The ritual of the stations of the cross has a very rich and venerable heritage.  It dates back two thousand years. Betrayed by a kiss in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was put on trial and
condemned to death It is his passion and death on which we meditate when we pray the stations. After the resurrection of Jesus, his faithful followers would retrace his steps through the holy city as they remembered what he had done for us. Descendants of those first Christians still live in the area in an unbroken line of faith. From generation to generation they passed on the stories and the memories, even after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD. In the early 4th century St. Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, made her own pilgrimage to the land made holy by Jesus. With the help of local Christians she was able to locate some important sites. One of them was Calvary and the empty tomb of Christ. She erected a magnificent church here called the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.  With an end to the persecutions Christians began to come on pilgrimage to the holy places. These journeys would always include a prayerful walk through the streets where Jesus carried his cross ending at the Basilica. Over time these walks would include places (or stations) along the way for
meditation on the passion stories found in the Gospels. But when the Moslems conquered Palestine the pilgrimages came to an abrupt end. The faithful, who could no longer go to Jerusalem, recognized the importance of the meditation on the passion of Christ. They would journey through their home churches, setting up stations at which to pray.  Eventually the number of stations was standardized at fourteen.  Over the years many sets of prayers and meditations have been written and used. On Good Friday the Pope leads a powerful Stations at the Colosseum in Rome. On the Wednesdays of Lent at 6 PM we will pray the Stations of the Cross, concluding with benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and followed by the celebration of Mass. After anenthusiastic response to the Advent prayers on Monday evenings,  Norm and I have talked and are planning a living stations of the cross. It is a unique experience of an ancient prayer. It will involve a simple acting out of the stations accompanied by music. It will be done just once during Lent, on Friday evening, March 2. Every time I do the stations of the cross I remember carrying the cross as I walked those crowded streets of the ancient city, climbing the hill of Calvary, and then spending grateful moments of prayer at the empty tomb. May our hearts be moved each time we pray the stations as we recognize the depth of Christ’s love for us as he suffered and died for our sins. May our Lenten journey
bring us to the joy of praying at the empty tomb on Easter with hearts full of gratitude.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

 

January 28, 2018

Dear Parishioners,

In my time as pastor of Holy Angels Parish I have had a number of parishioners share stories about the Ursuline Sisters who taught at St. Bernard’s School and Marquette High School for many years. I also have a connection with the Ursulines since I, too, was taught by them. I was taught by Ursuline Sisters at St. Patrick Grade School from 1st through 5th grade, then again at St. Teresa High School.  In my first year in the seminary I was at the Diocesan Seminary of the Immaculate Conception (now Villa Maria) on Lake Springfield. Some of my classes were at Springfield Junior College (an Ursuline school) where I was once again taught by Ursulines. During my priesthood I worked with Ursulines at SS. Peter and Paul in Alton, St. Aloysius in Springfield, and St. Patrick in Decatur. During my first four years I was also the chaplain and a teacher at Ursuline Academy in Springfield. I have many wonderful memories of these amazing educators. Many of them I have considered to be close friends and mentors. They have taught me, formed me, and journeyed with me. I owe them all a debt
of gratitude. I remembered them in prayer this past Saturday, January 27th, the feast of St. Angela Merici, their foundress.  St. Angela Merici lived in the town of Brescia in Northern Italy in the early 16th century. Angela’s heart went out to the women of her town. At that time only the boys received an education. Angela saw a need to educate the girls so she gathered other young women to help her. In those days women religious were normally cloistered, meaning they did not leave the confines of the convent walls. Rather, Angela and her companions lived in the world. They would gather each morning at the parish church for Mass and prayer, then would go about their mission to teach the girls. In her humility Angela did not name her new “company” after herself, but rather named them Ursulines, after her favorite saint, Ursula, a 4th century martyr. The order began in 1535 (almost 500 years ago!).  During the 16th and 17th centuries the Ursulines were very well respected throughout Europe. They were sometimes referred to as the “female Jesuits”. They were the first group of women religious to come to the young colonies that would later become the United States. At the beginning of the 18th century the governor of Louisiana wrote to his cousin, an Ursuline Sister in France, to come to help him in this “new world”. In 1726 a group of brave Ursuline Sisters arrived in New Orleans to found a hospital and an academy for girls. That school will soon be celebrating it 300th anniversary. Their convent in the French Quarter of New Orleans is the oldest building standing in the entire Mississippi Valley, from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.  It was from that group of nuns that Ursuline Sisters came up the Mississippi River to St. Louis and the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois in the mid 1800’s. We who are privileged to have been touched by the Ursuline charism are part of a long and illustrious heritage.

Please pray for all the sisters who have worked among us and for those who continue to live out the vision of St. Angela Merici. St. Angela, pray for us, and for them.  Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on February 14th. Masses and ashes will be at 8 AM and 7 PM that day. During the rest of Lent there will be Stations of the Cross at 6 PM each Wednesday, followed by Mass at 6:30. Mark your calendars for these important times and dates.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

 

January 21, 2018

Dear Parishioners,

One of the signs I look for in a parish to see how it is living up to its call to be disciples is how it cares for the grieving. I am very happy and proud to say that the people of Holy Angels Parish do that well. I am always impressed with the musicians, ushers, servers, and lectors who serve at funerals with such professionalism and loving care. And the meals that are deliciously prepared and waiting for the families on their return from the cemetery are always a welcoming sight and deeply appreciated. At Holy Angels Parish we celebrate a lot of funerals. I appreciate all that so many do for families in need of comfort and support in such difficult times.  If you are interested in helping in this area I encourage you to volunteer.  We are especially in need of help with funeral luncheons.  We could always use help to organize, make calls, serve the food, and clean up afterward. Please consider what you can do to be of service to parish families in need during a difficult time in their lives.  The satisfaction you get from helping is amazing, not to mention all the graces you receive. Let the office know if you are able to help.  This Monday is the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision that made abortion legal in our land. The United States Supreme Court presumed to try to change the law of God by making the mortal sin of killing an unborn child legal. Our faith does not allow us to accept such an outrage against innocent life. We thank all who traveled to Washington, D.C. for the Right to Life March.  We thank them for the courage to stand up for their convictions and for our Catholic beliefs. January 22nd has been designated by the Bishops of the United States as a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. It is a solemn day of fast and prayer.  May God turn the hearts of lawmakers, workers in the abortion industry, and those considering ending the life of their unborn child. May God give us the strength to continue the struggle.  Next Saturday morning at 10:00 AM, there will be a training
session for anyone wishing to be a server at Mass. It is a very great privilege and honor to assist at the altar during Mass. There is a great need for more volunteers in this sacred ministry.
It is only 3 ½ weeks until Lent begins. Have you prayed about your involvement in this holy season?  Thank you for all you do and God bless you all.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

 

January 14, 2018

Dear Parishioners,

Christmas Season has ended, but it is only a month until Lent begins! We are in the midst of a brief window of Ordinary Time, only five Sundays long. Lent begins February 14th and Easter Season extends to Pentecost on May 20th. Ordinary Time will not resume until Monday, May 21st and will continue until the First Sunday of Advent, December 2nd. Ordinary Time is the longest period of time in the Liturgical Calendar. Although it is called ordinary, there is nothing ordinary about this time. The extended season gives us ample opportunity to reflect on the extraordinary love of God. During this season we will explore Gospel stores of the ministry and teaching of Jesus. We will examine stories of parables and teachings, miracles and healings, journeys and times of quiet prayer, the call of the Apostles and their sending forth. So why Ordinary? It refers to the Ordinal or counting numbers by which we keep track of the
Sundays, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. I would like to thank all who made this year’s Christmas Season so wonderful at Holy Angels Parish. Thank you to all those involved in music ministry, liturgical ministries, decorators and cleaners, and all who came to worship with us during this holy season. On a personal note, I would like to thank all who were to kind to me with gifts and cards and the warmth of your love.  There are two important dates to take note of this week. On Monday, January 15th, we commemorate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. A powerful leader in the Civil Rights movement, Dr. King had a dream. We continue to work for the fulfillment of that dream as we work to end racism, discrimination, and hatred. We pray that all God’s people will live together in peace.  Although the actual anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Decision allowing abortion on demand in our nation isn't until next Monday, the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. will take place this Friday, Jan 19th. Thousands upon thousands will converge in our nation’s capital to stand up and march so that their voices may be heard proclaiming their belief and conviction in the sacredness of God’s holy gift of life. Please pray for safe travels, a powerful march, and a safe return for the many pilgrims. Convoys of busses from every part of our diocese will be on the roads. NormFrisch, our permanent deacon in training, will be accompanyinga group from our area. (Thank you to all who braved reports of a winter storm to show their support by coming to the Pancake Breakfast held last Sunday in Holy Angels Parish Center.) On December 28th we celebrated the Feast of
the Holy Innocents. These young boys and infants were slaughtered by King Herod as he tried unsuccessfully to destroy Jesus, the newborn King of the Jews. We have witnessed an even more massive slaughter of innocents martyred through the sin of abortion. Holy Innocents, Martyrs, intercede for our nation and our people. Pray for us.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

 

 

January 7, 2018

Dear Parishioners,

We come to the conclusion of the Christmas Season as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.  The word Epiphany comes from a Greek word meaning manifestation, or showing. The Church commemorates three distinct epiphanies or manifestations. The visit of the Magi, the presentation of the child Jesus in the temple, and Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River. Commonly, however, the name Epiphany is usually heard in conjunction with the three kings.  In each instance Jesus is manifested or shown  At his baptism in the Jordan River, as he came our of the water, “ the heavens were torn open and the Spirit, like a dove descended upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mk 1:7-11) Besides announcing who Jesus was, it was also a dramatic proclamation of the mystery of the Holy Trinity. That feast is celebrated this Monday and draws the Christmas Season to an end. Ordinary Time begins the next day.  On the eighth day Jesus was presented in the temple. Simeon, righteous and devout, having been told by the Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ, came into the temple that day. He took Jesus in his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now Master, you have fulfilled your promise, for my eyes have seen your salvation, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” The feast of the presentation is celebrated February 2nd and the last hurrah of Christmas. The Pope leaves the nativity in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican until this feast.  The three kings, the Magi, the Persian astrologers, followed the star to find the newborn King of the Jews. Their gifts signified their profession that he was God (incense), that he was King (gold), and that he was man (myrrh) and would die for our sins. Legend tells us that their names were Balthasar, Caspar, and Me lchior. There is an ancient tradition of blessing our home s on this day in their honor. The head of the house gathers the family for prayer and marks the lintel of the door with a piece of chalk. The numbers signify the year and the letters signify the names of the kings.  20-B-C-M-18 This becomes a constant reminder during the coming year that Christ can be found in this home.As the Christmas Season comes to its conclusion you are invited to share in a pancake breakfast today (Sunday, January 7th) in our Parish Center. Serving will be from 8:00 A.M.—Noon. Proceeds will help to fund the group traveling to Washington, D.C., later this month to participate in the Annual March for Life. For 44 years the law of our land has allowed the murder of millions human children before they have a chance to be born. We must stand up for our belief in the Right to Life for every person, from conception to natural death.  Remember—Trivia Night this Friday, January 12th at 7 P.M. in the Parish Center. Join us for an enjoyable evening.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

 

 

December 31, 2017

 Dear Parishioners,

Merry Christmas! We continue to marvel at the mystery of the Incarnation. God has become one of us!  Every day we pray the Angelus: “The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit. Hail Mary…” ; ”I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to they will. Hail Mary…” ; “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. Hail Mary…”. Mary said yes to God and salvation began. God humbled himself to share in our humanity, so that we might share in his divinity. What we celebrate during these sacred days changes the world. John 3:16 tells us, “Yes, God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life.”  Christmas season isn’t over yet. There is another entire week to celebrate. Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. We are inspired by the intimate relationship of love that we are called to imitate. We invite Jesus to be a part of our family and his presence helps us to grow in holiness.  Tomorrow, New Year’s Day, is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. It is normally a Holy Day of Obligation, but since it falls on a Monday this year the obligation is abrogated. Since there is no obligation there will be just one Mass. It will be 9:00 AM Monday, January 1st.  There will be no Mass on New Year’s Eve evening. Holy Days can be confusing. When I was a child it was simple and straight forward. I had memorized the six Holy Days of Obligation and I knew I had to go to Mass on each of those days. It was before the days of evening Masses. Sometime during the past forty years the American bishops have made some adjustments. Christmas, December 25th, and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception are always days of obligation - Christmas because it celebrates the birth of Christ and Immaculate Conception because Mary under that title is the patroness of the United States. Ascension Thursday is now Ascension Sunday (but the novena of prayer for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit still begins on that Thursday).  The other three, New Year’s, January 1st, Assumptionof Mary, August 15th, and All Saints, November 1st, are days of obligation unless they fall on a Monday or a Saturday.  Watch the bulletin when it comes close to those days.On January 1st, besides celebrating Mary, the Holy
Mother of God, the day is also set aside for the World Day of Prayer for Peace. Perhaps now, more than ever, we need to come together as citizens of the world to pray for peace in such a difficult and fragile time. Jesus, Prince of Peace, Pray for us.  May 2018 be a year of favor from the Lord and may you and your families be blessed.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

 

 

 

December 24, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

The fourth candle on the Advent Wreath has been lit. We are just hours away from the celebration of Christmas.  Since Christmas falls on Monday this year Advent is very short. We go quickly from the Fourth Sunday of Advent on Sunday morning to Christmas Eve that same afternoon.  There will be just one Sunday morning Mass this weekend December 24, at 9:00 AM. Christmas Eve Mass will be at 4:00 PM Sunday afternoon, December 24. Christmas Morning Mass will be at 9:00 AM Monday, December 25th.  I will be leaving after Christmas Day Mass to drive to Kankakee for dinner with my sister, Marianne, and my brother-in-law, Paul. I will stay in Kankakee for a few days, then in Decatur. The bishop gathers the priests and seminarians for a Christmas get together each year during the week of Christmas. It will be at Villa Maria on Lake Springfield on Thursday evening, December 28th. The Villa Maria used
to be the Diocesan Seminary of the Immaculate Conception where I was a student during the 1974-1975 school year. I have not missed the Christmas Gathering for 43 years! I always look forward to our time together. Pray for our bishop, our priests, our seminarians, and for vocations.  Next Sunday is New Year’s Eve. Since New Year’s Day falls on a Monday this year the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God is not a day of obligation. There will be no Mass on New Year’s Eve and one Mass on New Year’s Day, Monday January 1st, at 9:00 AM. The Christmas Season extends till Monday, January 8th, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Contrary to the secular celebration that began months ago and then abruptly ends on December 26th, the Church begins its celebration on Christmas Eve and continues through the Solemnity of the Epiphany and beyond. (The twelve days of Christmas begin on Christmas
Day and conclude on Epiphany, which my mother always called “Little Christmas”).  The mystery of the Incarnation that we celebrate at Christmas is such an extraordinary mystery that it cannot be contained in a single day. God spoke a word of love, and the Word became flesh. And we have seen the glory of an only begotten son. This mystery changed human history forever as God became man, and man is taken up to God! It is no wonder that the churches are full, that “Glory to God”and “Alleluia” can be heard being sung everywhere, that hearts rejoice, and the world seems a better place. I thank you for choosing to be with us for the celebration, and know you are always welcome.  May your Christmas be truly blessed and holy.


In Christ,


Fr. Don

 

 

December 17, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

The third candle of the Advent wreath has been lit.  The vestments are rose colored. It is Gaudete Sunday, Rejoice!!!  John the Baptist points the way to Jesus. He tell us Prepare!  Repent and believe! And so our season of Advent is a solemn time of waiting and preparing. The purple vestments and the purple candles on the wreath remind us that we are in a penitential season. So why the rose color on the third Sunday?  Because we rejoice in the midst of the waiting. Christ has already come in history and comes to us today in mystery. He is with us here and now and that is cause for rejoicing.  Normally, there are four weeks of Advent, but since Christmas falls on Monday this year, next Sunday is the 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve is that evening. So we celebrate only the Sunday of the 4th week of Advent. As we come closer to Christmas things get busier and busier. I will be in the confessional from noon until 1 o’clock this Sunday. At one o’clock we will go Christmas caroling and at 6 PM the Knights of Columbus are sponsoring a Movie Night in the Parish Center.  There will be snacks and drinks and the movie is “The Nativity Story”. Come join us for any of the activities. This Monday evening, December 18th, we will gather in the church at 7 PM for the final evening of prayer and reflection on Discipleship.  The first two evenings were very prayerful. Come join us continue reflecting on the four pillars of Discipleship.  Since there are only a few hours between the end of Mass for the 4th Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve Mass, we will be decorating the church this Friday, December 22nd, beginning at 8:30 AM. It is always a joyous time of preparing to celebrate the Savior’s birth. You are most welcome to come join us as we prepare the church for the celebrations.  A reminder about next weekend’s schedule: there will be only one Sunday morning Mass on December 24th. It will be at 9 AM. Masses for Christmas will be Sunday evening, Christmas Eve, December 24th at 4 PM, and Christmas Day, Monday, December 25th at 9 AM.  May our hearts be ready and prepared to celebrate Christmas, to recognize that Jesus is already with us here and now, and to look with longing for His coming again in majesty. Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!  

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

December 10, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

The second candle of the Advent Wreath has been lit.  The coming of Jesus in majesty is closer than ever. Prepare the way!  “A voice cries out: in the desert prepare the way of the Lord!” These words from the Prophet Isaiah in the Old Testament point toward John the Baptist in the New Testament.  But the words ring just as true for us today. Prepare the way! John prepared for the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. We prepare for Jesus to come again in majesty. The urgency of the command is just the same now as it was then. One of the best preparations is the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I am available every Saturday from 3 PM until 4 PM. As a preparation for Christmas I will be in the confessional next
Sunday afternoon, December 17th from 12 noon until 1 PM.  What a great way to get ready for Christmas.  Last Monday’s Evening Prayer was very moving. Plan to join us this Monday, December 11th, and next Monday, December 18th. The evening begins with a service of light as Christ brings his light into the darkness of the winter night and a cold world. Psalms are chanted, scriptures are proclaimed, a reflection is shared on Prayer - the second pillar of the Discipleship, a time of quiet before the Blessed Sacrament culminates in Benediction. And all this is accompanied by beautiful, prayerful music. It will be an oasis of joy and peace in the midst of the business of December. Treat yourself to an evening of Advent prayer.  I’m looking forward to the Advent Dinner with the ladies of St. Anne’s Alar Society. (It couldn’t be a Christmas Party since Christmas doesn’t start until the evening of December 24th!) But it should be a most pleasant time together.  On Wednesday the priests of the diocese will gather with Bishop Paprocki for an Advent Day of Prayer. Our meeting is a follow-up to the recently completed Diocesan Synod.  We will be together from 10 AM until 3 PM. There will be Wednesday morning Mass and adoration. But there will be no Benediction at 3 PM. Rather the Blessed Sacrament will be simply reposed. Pray for us on our priestly day of prayer.  Mark your calendars now for Caroling next Sunday beginning at 1 PM. (Come for confession, stay for caroling.)  I’ve heard there might be hot chocolate after. That evening the Knights of Columbus will be sponsoring a movie night in theParish Center at 6 PM.  May our remaining days of Advent bring many   graces and blessings as we watch, and wait, and prepare.  Maranatha! Come quickly Lord Jesus!

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

 

December 3, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

The first candle on he Advent wreath is lit, the preparation and the waiting have begun. People have been inviting me to Christmas parties and when I see the dates I respond, “Oh, you mean Advent parties!” Advent is one of the most misunderstood and ignored seasons of the Church calendar. Properly celebrated it should be a time of quiet reflection in preparation.  Too often the emphasis is placed on the coming of Christ long ago in Bethlehem. That is only one of the three comings of Christ for which we prepare. Christ’s coming is in History, Mystery, and Majesty. As we remember Christ’s coming long ago in history, we also reflect on Christ’s coming to us today in mystery. But all the while our focus is on preparing for his coming in majesty at the end of time.  To help us in our time of Advent reflection I invite you to join us on the next three Monday evenings, December 4, 11, 18. We will begin each evening at 7 PM in the church, with a service based on Evening Prayer. There will be processions, music, readings, prayers, and a reflection. We will conclude with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Norm Frisch, our deacon candidate, will offer reflections based on the four pillars of Discipleship: Hospitality, Prayer, Formation, Service. What a wonderful follow-up to the Diocesan Synod, which had its solemn closing and signing of decrees last Sunday. We are called as a diocese, as a parish, and as individuals to live as intentional disciples following a stewardship way of life. Come join us for an enjoyable time of prayer and reflection.  This Friday, December 8th, is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Holy Day of Obligation. Masses will be at 8 AM and 7 PM. It is the Patronal Feastday of the United States of America and of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois. The mystery of our salvation began at the very beginning of Mary’s life, as in the womb of her mother Anne God preserved her from the stain of Original Sin. At the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield there is a magnificent mosaic of Mary above the altar and above it are the words in Latin “Macula Non Est In Te”, which means, “In you there is no stain (of sin).” By this privilege God prepared Mary to be the worthy Mother of his son. As we honor Mary we pray that we who have been washed in baptism and absolved in confession may strive to be free from sin, so that Christ might find a worthy home in our heats.  May your Advent preparations be filled with grace and joy.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

 

November 26, 2017

Dear Parishioners,
We have arrived at the climax of the Church’s liturgical year. The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. With this celebration the Church year comes to an end. All times and seasons, all peoples and nations, indeed, all creation is ordered toward the glory of the Kingdom of God. We pause to honor Christ, our King. Coincidentally, the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois brings its Diocesan Synod to a conclusion this Sunday. All are welcome to join in the celebration at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield for a 2 PM Mass solemnly closing our Diocesan Synod. Our last diocesan synod was in 1963 so this is certainly a momentous and historic occasion. Our prayers and our hard work are now needed as we strive to bring the decrees of this synod to fruition.   Also this weekend Blest Art is with us. They bring tous wonderful carved olive wood art. The Christians of Bethlehem
have for centuries made their living by carving religious articles from olive wood and offering them for sale to the pilgrims who came to visit the holy sites. Because of the world situation fewer pilgrims come, making it harder for these Christian artists to support their families. Your purchase of these olive wood objects helps the Christians who still live in the area around Bethlehem. Thank you for your support!  The cycle continues as one church year ends and another begins. Next Sunday, December 3rd, is the First Sunday of Advent. During the first few weeks of Advent our gaze is directed not so much toward the past in Bethlehem as it is toward the future and the second coming of Christ.  The coming of Christ is three-fold: Jesus comes in history (long ago in Bethlehem), in mystery (now in word and sacrament in the Eucharist), and in glory (at the end of time). This past present and future of Christ’s coming is prayed for at the end of the Glory Be. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.  On the Monday evenings of Advent, December 4, 11, 18, we will be gathering in the church for prayer and reflection. The evenings will begin at 7 PM and will include exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, prayer, reflection on the four pillars of discipleship, and benediction. Please planto join us for a prayerful time.  Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!

In Christ,

Fr. Don


P.S. For those who enjoy technology there is a wonderful new free email program that will help you to experience Advent in a way you’ve never done before. It is simple.  Sign up at Dynamic Catholic.com/signup. Each day during Advent you will receive emails with short inspirational messages, practical tips, and personal stories. Make it a part of your daily prayer.

 

 

November 12, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

Today we welcome Fr. Patrick Collins who will speak at all the Masses on behalf of Cross Catholic Outreach which was founded to create a meaningful link between parishes in America and the priests and nun working in the Church overseas in the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Central and South America. Please be generous to Father’s appeal. Brochures will be provided if you wish to support this worthy Catholic ministry.  This Sunday is Stewardship Sunday. Our diocese is currently involved in an ongoing process of formation, calling us to reflect on our call to discipleship and how to live out that call as good stewards. On the Monday evenings of Advent we will be gathering for prayer and reflection on the four pillars of Stewardship and Discipleship, which are Hospitality, Prayer, Formation, Service. This will be in response to our Diocesan Synod which concludes with a 2 PM Mass at the Cathedral in Springfield on Sunday, November 26th. All are invited to attend. Mark your calendars for our parish evenings of reflection December 4th, 11th, and 17th. Hope to see you there.  This week in Rome our pilgrim group will celebrate Mass on Sunday at the American parish, then a relaxing afternoon at the Tivoli Gardens with its famous fountains.  Monday morning after a beautiful drive through the country side we will celebrate Mass at Monte Casino, spectacular monastery built over the tomb of St. Benedict. In the afternoon we will tour the ruins of ancient Pompeii, buried in 79 A.D.  I am very excited about Tuesday morning. I was able to get a reservation to celebrate Mass in the Clementine Chapel in the grottoes beneath St. Peter’s Basilica. This altar is the closest one to the actual bones of St. Peter, the first pope! After Mass we will tour the Vatican Museums and be able to spend time in the Sistine Chapel. Wednesday morning we are privileged to be able to attend the Papal Audience. As Pope Francis enters St. Peter’s Square the crowd of tens of thousands of faithful will erupt in cheers. It is always a thrilling experience. In the afternoon we will visit the Catacombs on the ancient Appian Way where I will celebrate our final Mass of the pilgrimage.  This Thursday is our travel day, but I will not be returning to Wood River that day. I will be making a detour to Kankakee for a funeral. A very dear friend of my family died on All Saints Day. He was 96 and was like a second father to my sister, Marianne. Leonard Klenzak was a World War II veteran, a husband and father, and a cherished friend. I buried his wife and his son.  The funeral will be Saturday morning, November 18th. Because of the distance (4 hours) I will not be able to be back in time for 4:30 Mass. Fr. Simburger has once again saved my life and will be here for 3:00 confessions and 4:30 Mass next Saturday, Novemebr 18th. I will be home later Saturday evening, so I will be here for Sunday morning Masses.  For all our beloved dead we pray, “May perpetual light shine on them and may they rest in peace.”

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

 

November 5, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

I can’t believe it is here! The plane takes off Monday morning! The pilgrims will assemble in airports in St. Louis, Chicago, and Pittsburgh and will converge in Florence, Italy.  The Heart of Italy Pilgrimage sponsored by Golden Frontier Catholic Shrine Pilgrimage from Belleville will be touring from November 6 until November 16, including time in Florence, Assisi, and Rome. We will be a group of 30 pilgrims, a nice size to work with. Seven of us are from Holy Angels Parish, four are my family members, and the rest I will meet on the trip. Sharing time together as we pray, and eat, and travel, and marvel at the many experiences bonds the group together. I always enjoy meeting new people in this way.  Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance and contains some of the most magnificent and breath taking art of the era. It begins with the dome on the Cathedral which was the first one built since the Roman times. And of course the famous sculpture of David by Michelangelo lives in Florence.  But those are just the tip of the iceberg. We will be immersed in Renaissance art.  Assisi is a picturesque town set on a hilltop, built of beautiful sandstone blocks and red tile roofs. More importantly, it was the home of St. Francis, Italy’s most beloved saint. I will be celebrating Mass at his tomb next Friday. Then we will arrive in Rome Friday evening. After a Saturday tour of the highlights of the city we will be at the North American College for Mass. That is where Father Michael Friedel lives.  It will be great to see him. I will give him your best.  Next week Fr. Patrick Collins will be here for Saturday and Sunday. Please welcome him as he speaks at all the Masses on behalf of Cross Catholic Outreach which was founded to create a meaningful link between parishes in America and the priests and nuns working in the Church overseas in the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Central and South America. I am very pleased that Fr. Collins will be able to be here so I have a chance to go on my pilgrimage.  There will be no weekday Masses while I am gone. I will be celebrating Mass each day in some beautiful churches and will be remembering you in prayer each day. Pray for us pilgrims.

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

October 29, 2017

Dear Parishioners,

I had a wonderful time last weekend in Indianapolis.  I always enjoy the yearly gathering with my friends from the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre. We were honored to have Raymond Cardinal Burke as our Keynote Speaker on Saturday. He spoke on the importance of being educated in the faith. He invested the new members and celebrated Mass on Sunday in historic St. John’s Church just around the corner from our hotel. He joined us for the banquet on Sunday evening and I was able to visit with him during the cocktail hour. I even had my picture taken with him. I’m already looking forward to next year in Milwaukee.  Each year the Church remembers and prays for the dead during November. This Sunday, the closest one to All Saints and All Souls Days, we will celebrate our annual Parish Memorial Mass at 10:30. I will read out the names of those who have died during this past year. From Oct. 15, 2016 to Oct. 15, 2017. I have done thirty-five funerals in the parish. A candle will be lit for each of the deceased.  Tuesday, October 31st, is Halloween. In the Church, it is considered to be a sacred night, the vigil of All Saints Day. The word Halloween actually means holy evening.  Ghosts, goblins, and trick-or-treating are part of the secular celebration, not the religious one. Wednesday, November 1st is the Solemnity of All Saints, a Holy Day of Obligation.  Masses will be at 8:00 AM and 7:00 PM. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will follow the morning Mass and conclude with Benediction at 3:00 PM. The following day,  Thursday, November 2nd, is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (commonly knows as All Souls Day).  Beginning on November 1st the Parish Book of the Dead will be placed near the baptismal font where it will stay for the whole month of November. All are invited to inscribe the names of family, friends, and loved ones who have died. At each Mass during the month of November we will pray for all whose names are in our Parish Book of the Dead. All Souls Day is a day to visit the cemetery to pray for the dead. I will be in Decatur Thursday afternoon for an appointment so I plan to visit the cemeteries where my parents and my brother are buried to spend some time in prayer. Our faith in the resurrection lifts us from the darkness of grief. We are filled with hope as we await the coming of Christ in glory.  Mark your calendars for the two following coming events. Monday, November 13th, at 7:00 PM, at Holy Family Church in Granite City, there will be a live production, “From Slave to Priest”, about Fr. Augustus Tolten, first African-American priest. Fr. Tolten was from Quincy in our diocese. Also, the 6th-8th grade PSR classes will be having a bake sale November 11th & 12th for a local program that provides local children with Christmas gifts.  I have to start packing soon, my pilgrimage starts in just over a week. I’m excited!

In Christ,

Fr. Don

 

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