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St. Thomas the Apostle
Peoria Heights, Illinois

Links to St. Thomas Parish and St. Thomas School.
Email to Monsignor Jason Gray at msgrgray@stthomas-church.net.
Download My Parish App on your mobile device.
Subscribe to the parish YouTube chanel for videos.



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Sat Jun 27 2020 @ 3:00PM: Fantastic Flowers at St. Thomas: Keeping Peoria Beautiful

Thank you Dr. Phil Adams! There is a lot of hard work that goes into the care of the flowers and trees around the parish.

Is this not the most beautiful parish in Peoria?





















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Thu Jun 4 2020 @ 3:00PM: FAQ about returning to Mass at St. Thomas on June 6-7

You are still dispensed and not required to attend Mass on Sunday.
For those who are healthy and want to return to Mass, we will return to our regular Mass Schedule on June 6

Regular Mass Schedule
Weekend Masses: Saturday, 5 PM. Sunday, 7 AM, 9 AM, 11 AM, 5 PM
Weekday Masses: 7 AM, 8 AM (8 AM only on Saturday)
Confessions: Saturday, 4:00-4:45 PM, 6:00-6:30 PM

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Thu Jun 4 2020 @ 3:00PM: What will be different about public Masses now?

As we reopen for public Mass, there will be some modifications that we must take into account.

While our parish staffs will attempt to take appropriate precautions consistent with the advice of public health authorities, parishioners and guests should understand that they assume the risk of contracting COVID-19 anytime they enter a public space since such precautions do not eliminate the risk of infection.

For those who are at risk or with underlying conditions, you may freely stay home.
People will be able (but not required) to come to Mass.
If you are sick, we will insist that you stay home.
If you have been exposed to someone with the virus, or if you have flu-like symptoms, it is important that you not come to Mass where you may expose others.
You are encouraged to maintain social distancing and wear protective equipment, such as a face mask or face covering.
Masks are not required when people are able to maintain proper distancing.
Families who live in the same household are also not required to maintain distancing among themselves.

There will be a few other adjustments to our regular routine:


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Thu Jun 4 2020 @ 3:00PM: What if I can't or don't want to come back to Mass yet?

For those who do not come to Mass, you can still come to receive Communion:

Communion Outside Mass
Sunday, 12:00 - 12:30 PM
Those who do not want to come into the church should pull in the crescent drive to receive Communion.

Watching Mass on-line
You can watch Mass from St. Thomas on our YouTube Chanel. Sunday Mass will be recorded Saturday evening at 5 PM and then posted online. Daily Masses will be recorded and posted after Mass. If you cannot attend Mass, you can make an Act of Spiritual Communion.

Act of Spiritual Communion
My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from you.
Amen

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Thu Jun 4 2020 @ 3:00PM: Staying in touch with St. Thomas

Stay in touch with St. Thomas in the following ways: The Parish will observe limited office hours, from 11 AM to 1 PM each weekday.
Staff will also be available by email or leaving a message. Call 309-688-3446 and follow the instructions.
Items to drop off at the Parish Office can be placed under the door of the Office downstairs, or under the door of the Sacristy upstairs.





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Sat May 30 2020 @ 10:51AM: Here's what to expect as we return to Mass on June 6.

See the video here, and see the progress on the sanctuary at he same time!

Communion this weekend for Pentecost will be available Saturday from 5:30-6:00 pm, and on Sunday from 9:30-11:00 am. Masses for Trinity Sunday, June 6-7, will be at the normal times. We will observe distancing, so you are welcome to spread out into the narthex and the daily Mass chapel.

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Fri May 29 2020 @ 6:12PM: Public Masses resume June 6-7 for Trinity Sunday!

Receive Communion at St. Thomas for Pentecost:
Saturday, May 30, 5:30 - 6:00 pm (after recorded Vigil)
Sunday, May 31, 9:30 - 11:00 am (after recorded Mass)

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Mon May 25 2020 @ 9:00AM: Happy Memorial Day

Join us for Mass here.

As we celebrate the freedoms we hold dear, let us remember those who died to protect them. Let us also pray for the protection of our individual religious liberties and for the freedom of the Catholic Church: St. Michael the Archangel...

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Sun May 24 2020 @ 8:58AM: Mass for the Ascension from St. Thomas

Mass for the Ascension from St. Thomas. Communion will be distributed from 9:30 to 11:00.

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Thu May 21 2020 @ 11:00AM: Come receive Communion this weekend at St. Thomas!

Communion will be distributed at St. Thomas:
- Saturday from 5:30 to 6:00 PM
- Sunday from 9:30 to 11:00 AM

Mass will be recorded Saturday evening for our YouTube channel. We do not yet have permission to attend Mass, though Communion may be made available immediately afterward on Saturday evening (5:30-6:00 pm). Hosts will again be consecrated Sunday morning. While it not allowed to participate in the Mass, Communion will be available afterward on Sunday morning (9:30-11:00 am).

When receiving Communion, please take health precautions and sanitize your hands. Those who cannot come into the narthex should pull up in the crescent drive and I will bring Communion out to you.

Also, view the most common question I've been asked recently.

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Mon May 18 2020 @ 4:00PM: Plan for reopening

Working with the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Dioceses of Illinois are formulating our plan for reopening our parishes. It will be a step by step process and will take some time. Some volunteers are going through training about protocols for safety and disinfecting. Reply if you're interested in learning more. Training information is available here.

We have over 200 people come to receive Communion on Sunday morning when the Eucharist was available. More information will be coming about possibly expanding the time when we make Communion available next Sunday: Ascension Sunday!

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Sat May 16 2020 @ 6:00PM: Mass for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Sixth Sunday of Easter.

Take a short tour of the work in the sanctuary at the end of Mass. Also, Communion can be distributed on Sunday morning to those who wish to come and receive. Come visit St. Thomas.

Come to St. Thomas between 9:45 and 10:45 AM and Communion will be made available individually. This time frame allows people to keep distance and avoid congregating in a large crowd.

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Thu May 14 2020 @ 5:00PM: Look forward to a new year at STS

Congratulations to our eighth-grade students who "virtually" graduated this week, as we look forward even now to the next school year.
Successes at St. Thomas School

We remain committed to providing the best quality Catholic education we can at St. Thomas School, including our music, band, art, and Spanish programs and other extra-curricular subjects. Many parents have told me how happy they are with our faculty and programs, especially the e-learning program we have had in place for more than a year.

Our commitment to our teachers requires a financial investment. Tuition is the main source of revenue to support excellence in education. At the same time, we do all we can to provide help with families that are struggling.

All our parishioners should be proud of our school. I am grateful for your support of St. Thomas and for supporting our tuition assistance programs.

Other videos appear below:
Receiving Communion soon?
Looking to meet Bishop Tylka
Attend Mass... Safely? Is that possible?

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Mon May 11 2020 @ 10:00AM: Our new Coadjutor's interview in the Catholic Post

Read the article here.

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Mon May 11 2020 @ 8:00AM: Welcome to Bishop-Elect Louis Tylka!

Bishop-Elect Louis Tylka will be our new Coadjutor Bishop, assisting Bishop Jenky until his retirement. After Bishop Jenky retires, Bishop Tylka will be the ninth Bishop of Peoria.

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Sat May 09 2020 @ 7:00PM: Mass for the Fifth Sunday of Easter

Sunday Mass has been posted for you to watch at home with your families.
Fifth Sunday of Easter.

See the progress with the sanctuary here:
Sanctuary Tour.

A special blessing for All Mothers on Mother's Day:
Mother's Day Blessing.

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Wed May 06 2020 @ 3:30PM: May Crowning of the Blessed Mother

Honor the Blessed Mother at our May Crowning:
May Crowning.

You can honor Mary in your own homes by decorating a statute or an image in a special location. Unite your prayers with ours as we crown the Blessed Mother. May Mary watch over all of us during this beautiful month!

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Sun May 03 2020 @ 12:00PM: Today is Donut Sunday!

Today is Donut Sunday! Do you want a donut?

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Sat May 02 2020 @ 6:00PM: Mass for the Fourth Sunday of Easter - Good Shepherd Sunday

Fourth Sunday of Easter Mass

This Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday as we honor Jesus who is the shepherd and guardian of our souls.
There is good news about progress on the virus and we welcome to relaxation of the restrictions imposed by the Governor. While it is not possible to return yet to public Mass, the church is open during the day. You are welcome to make a private visit for prayer. I hope that we can soon return to some regular office hours in the parish office.
This weekend, we pray for our children who would have made their First Communion. This would also have been a Donut Sunday and our regular Sunday for the St. Vincent de Paul Society collection. Your contributions are very much appreciated, both for the parish and for the poor served by the SVdP Society.

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Sat May 02 2020 @ 10:00AM: Greetings to our second grade students

Greetings especially to our second grade students who are preparing for First Communion. Although we need to wait a short while, we look forward to celebrating your First Communion at a time when it is safe to do so.
Dear First Communion Class...
Daily Mass for May 2 (First Communion and St. Athanasius)

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Fri May 01 2020 @ 4:38PM: Remember to honor Mary during the month of May

Remember to honor Mary, the Mother of God during the month of May. Here's how:
Mary's Month and May Crowning
Daily Mass for May 1 (St. Joseph)

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Thu Apr 30 2020 @ 4:10PM: Your responses to the question: What have I learned?

Here are your responses to the question, "What have you learned during this time?" Some also expressed what they are thankful for or what they will not take for granted. Thanks for your responses!
What have you learned during the shutdown?
Daily Mass for April 30 (St. Pius V)
Daily Mass for April 29 (St. Catherine)

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Tue Apr 28 2020 @ 12:05PM: St. Thomas School rises to the challenge!

The parish should know how many wonderful and innovative things St. Thomas School has done. See how.
St. Thomas rises to meet the challenge

In times of adversity, some people have applied themselves to find creative solutions. St. Thomas School has been working hard and succeeding in finding new and ever more effective ways to continue learning.
Let's apply this same creative attitude to our spiritual growth during this time!
Rise to meet the challenge!

Daily Mass for April 28 (Marian Mass)

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Mon Apr 27 2020 @ 9:16AM: Daily Masses are now available online

Bookmark this channel and come back to watch future daily Masses. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQHYsiuBlBVOrYTElsmPWFQ

Act of Spiritual Communion

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
    come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
    and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

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Mon Apr 27 2020 @ 3:45PM: Finding a Healthy Routine

While the shutdown continues a bit longer, it is helpful to make an affirmative plan for a healthy regular routine. Here are some thoughts you can apply.



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Mon Apr 27 2020 @ 9:00AM: Daily Mass for April 27 from St. Thomas



Bookmark this channel for future daily Masses:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQHYsiuBlBVOrYTElsmPWFQ

Act of Spiritual Communion

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
   come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
   and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

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Sat Apr 25 2020 @ 6:00PM: Mass for the 3rd Sunday of Easter (April 26) from St. Thomas



Please reply to this question at msgrgray@stthomas-church.net: Now that the shutdown will continue into May, would you like to have daily Mass videos recorded on YouTube? Or is Sunday Mass enough?
Thanks!

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Sat Apr 23 2020 @ 4:30PM: Modifications of the stay-at-home order

We're happy to hear news of the upcoming modification of the stay at home order by the Illinois Governor. The modifications are being studied and we will wait for guidance from our Bishop.

While I hope that limited access to our church will soon be possible, please remember:
--> All the faithful continue to be dispensed from attending Mass;
--> We will continue to broadcast Sunday Mass on our YouTube channel;
--> Those who are at risk should take precautions and remain at home;
--> Anyone who is ill should also remain at home out of concern for others' health.

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Sat Apr 18 2020 @ 5:00PM: Help us plan for reopening St. Thomas!

There is a lot of good news about progress made in controlling the spread of the virus and managing the symptoms of those who are infected. The math is working out that far fewer people are being infected than first projected, and the death rate is much lower than feared. This means that we will soon be able to return to church.

As I offer messages, recordings, and videos, one of the problems I have had is the difficulty in receiving your feedback. It's hard for me to know how many people have heard these messages and how they have been received. I invite your feedback to the following question: How should we be preparing for the reopening of St. Thomas?

We will need to reschedule First Communion (maybe for Corpus Christi?), and the reception of the RCIA class (maybe at Pentecost?), as well as a Mass at a safe time to celebrate our graduating students. We can plan for a post-Lent Fish Fry, a Pancake Breakfast, and we can certainly make up some missed Donut Sundays. We can offer extra confession times for those who couldn't come during Lent.

What would you like to see at St. Thomas in the coming weeks once we have returned to Mass? Click the reply arrow below to make your suggestions.

Your suggestions are welcome. Please email msgrgray@stthomas-church.net.

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Sat Apr 18 2020 @ 5:00PM: Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday from St. Thomas

Please join us by watching this video as we celebrate the Second Sunday of Easter.

Video Link:

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Fri Apr 17 2020 @ 5:00PM: Message to prepare for Divine Mercy Sunday

Some practical comments are offered in preparation for Divine Mercy Sunday and Mass which will be broadcast from St. Thomas.
The examples of several saints are proposed who cared for the sick during times of widespread disease.
Look up St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Martin de Porres, St. Damien of Molokai, for more information about these three remarkable saints.

Video Link:

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Wed Apr 15 2020 @ 2:00PM: Sunday Mass for April 19 will be broadcast from St. Thomas on YouTube

I will offer a private Mass Saturday evening and upload the video to YouTube. You will be able to watch this Mass at home on Saturday evening or Sunday according to your schedule.
This will be the Mass for the Octave of Easter, celebrating the feast of Divine Mercy.
There will be a homily but no music, so this "low" Mass will be shorter than normal.

You can follow the parish YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQHYsiuBlBVOrYTElsmPWFQ.

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Tue Apr 14 2020 @ 10:00AM: Easter Octave: Pray for physical and spiritual health, not physical health only

Below is a meditation from St. Thomas during the Octave of Easter.
We pray for everyone's physical health, but even more importantly, we pray for the health of the soul. "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna" (Mt 10:28). Take care of your physical, psychological, financial, and spiritual health during this time.

Pray for our RCIA candidates to be received into the Church after Easter.

Audio only /or/ Video

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Mon Apr 13 2020 @ 4:00PM: Easter Octave: The Resurrection changes everything

Below is a meditation from St. Thomas during the Octave of Easter.
Believing in the Resurrection changes everything. It changed the lives of the disciples forever, and it can change us too.
Faith in the risen Lord Jesus is contagious. But this infection is one that heals and saves. When you contract this gift of faith, you are cured!

Audio only /or/ Video and Audio

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Sun Apr 12 2020 @ 9:00AM: Easter Sunday Mass: Low Mass from St. Thomas Chapel

I have not streamed or recorded other Masses from St. Thomas because it seems too awkward and artificial to celebrate some of the solemn liturgies of Holy Week in an empty church in front of a camera, with no music, as if there were a congregation present.
The video below is a simple (low) Mass of Easter Sunday that I hope you will find uplifting and encouraging on this solemn celebration of the resurrection!



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Sun Apr 12 2020 @ 7:00AM: Easter Sunday: The Solemn Celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Happy Easter! Below is a link to a message for Easter Sunday as we celebrate our Lord's resurrection. The death of Jesus took place in public and there were witnesses to his death and burial. The resurrection of Jesus took place with no one to witness it. Mary Magdalene was the first witness to come and find the empty tomb with the burial cloths wrapped up in the tomb. We see the signs, and are invited to believe with faith in the power of the resurrection.

One way to mark the Easter Season is to pray the Regina Caeli (Queen of Heaven). In place of the Angelus which is often prayed at 6 AM, 12 noon, and 6 PM, we pray the Regina Coeli during the Easter Season.

Queen of Heaven, rejoice. Alleluia.
For He, whom you were worthy to bear. Alleluia.
Has risen as He said. Alleluia.
Pray for us to God. Alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary. Alleluia.
R. Because the Lord is truly risen, Alleluia.

Let us pray
O God, Who by the Resurrection of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, hast been pleased to give joy to the whole world, grant we beseech You, that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may attain the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.


Easter Sunday message: Audio only /or/ Video and Audio

See the readings for the Easter Sunday here.

Though we may be stuck in our homes, nature appears to have decided that it will not be confined! Spring has sprung. Enjoy these photos from around the campus. (Thanks to Dr. Phil Adams for his hard work.)







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Sat Apr 11 2020 @ 9:00AM: Holy Saturday and the Easter Vigil

Below is a link to a message for Holy Saturday as we prepare to celebrate the Easter Vigil. We recall the moment when Jesus rose from the dead. No one witnessed the resurrection when it occurred, but the disciples saw the signs of the resurrection when they discovered the empty tomb. The resurrection calls for faith.

Today is the day when the new Easter Candle is blessed and lit from the Easter Fire. The new holy water is blessed to prepare for baptism. The faithful are reminded to renew their baptismal promises as their candles remind them of their own baptism and as they are sprinkled with the newly blessed water. This is traditionally the time when new Catholics are brought into the Church through baptism or through their profession of faith.

Please pray for the members of the RCIA class, as their entrance into the Church will be delayed by the restrictions this year.

Holy Saturday message: Audio only /or/ Video and Audio

See the readings for the Easter Vigil here.

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Fri Apr 10 2020 @ 4:00PM: Confessions on Good Friday

Confessions available tonight at 6 PM and Saturday at 4 PM. Confessions will end when the last person has confessed.

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Fri Apr 10 2020 @ 9:00AM: Good Friday and the Liturgy of the Lord's Passion

Below is a link to a message for Good Friday as we celebrate the Liturgy of the Passion. We recall the offering that Jesus made of himself when he carried his cross and died for our salvation. This is the day when we read the Passion, we pray intercessory prayers for the Church and the world, and we venerate the cross.

Silence is an important part of the life of the Church. Silence is highly recommended during Masses in Lent. Silence is also a part of many religious houses, as the grand silence is often observed each day from night prayers until the next morning. A silent retreat is another venerable tradition. Today would be a good day to integrate silence into your own homes. Consider setting one hour of silence that everyone observes as a powerful way to center in on the spirit of Good Friday. This may be uncomfortable! Each person can spend the time in individual silence as they wish, but without making noise.

Good Friday message: Audio only /or/ Video and Audio

See the readings for Good Friday here.
See the text of the solemn intercessions for Good Friday here.

Click here for information about praying the Divine Mercy Novena and Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

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Thu Apr 09 2020 @ 5:15PM: Holy Thursday Mass / Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary

Watch the Mass of the Lord's Supper this evening. Mass is streamed at www.cdop.org.
Readings are here.

If you can't watch Holy Thursday Mass, consider praying the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary: The 5th mystery is the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.

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Thu Apr 09 2020 @ 9:00AM: Holy Thursday and the Mass of the Lord's Supper

Below is a link to a message for Holy Thursday as we celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper. This is the day when we recall Jesus' gift of the Eucharist as he takes bread and wine and transforms them into his body and blood. Today is also the day when Jesus instituted the priesthood and gave us the Mass as the memorial of his offering of his body and blood. At the Last Supper, Jesus also performed the act of charity of washing the disciples' feet. After the Last Supper, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane where he prayed before he was arrested.

We typically set up the altar of repose in the chapel, where people are invited to come and pray. I suggest that families set up a place of prayer in their homes where you can pray with our Lord. Jesus asked the disciples to watch and pray for an hour. Tonight would be a good time to pray for vocations to the priesthood, and to pray for greater devotion to the Eucharist.

Holy Thursday message: Audio only /or/ Video and Audio

See the readings for Holy Thursday here.

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Wed Apr 08 2020 @ 4:40PM: Preparation for the Triduum

The linked video below invites our school and CCD children, and all of us, to prepare for the celebration of the Sacred Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday.

Holy Week Message

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Mon Apr 06 2020 @ 5:30PM: Holy Week Message and Positive Signs of Hope

The audio message attached speaks about several points:
- Today's daily Mass speaks about the woman who anointed Jesus for his burial. While we will always have the poor with us, we will not always have Jesus. These are words to remember this Holy Week.
- I'm worried about the emotional and psychological health of people who are alone, the financial health of struggling families, and the spiritual health of all of us without access to the sacraments.
- I'm concerned about time not used well, wasting time on idle activities or even harmful or sinful actions.
- Yet, there is positive news about the battle against the virus and the prognosis of a recovery.
- We worry about things in our Circle of Concern that we cannot change. Work on the things in your Circle of Influence that you can do something about.
- A parish Easter letter is going out to all parishioners. You can see a copy of this letter below.
- Tune into cdop.org to watch Masses for the Triduum. These Masses will be professionally recorded and transmitted (better than we can produce them at St. Thomas). I will record homilies and reflections for each of the days of the Triduum that you can listen to here.
- When the restrictions are lifted, I urge everyone to think about what we will do to reinvigorate our faith. Don't be lazy, but think now about what we need to do for a time of renewal. It will soon be time for bold action. We have many things to celebrate, and once we're back to Mass, we want to celebrate with great joy!

Message from Msgr. Gray

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Mon Apr 06 2020 @ 5:30PM: Easter Message being mailed out to all Parishioners

April 3, 2020

Dear N:

I write to wish every member of the St. Thomas Parish and School family a Happy Easter! In these strange days, it is a shame that it is not possible to wish you blessings at Eastertime in person. As a people of hope, we can look forward to a time -- soon -- when we will be able to gather once again as a parish family at St. Thomas. These past weeks have shown how important it is to communicate effectively with the entire parish and with each of you individually.

Keeping the entire parish informed requires more than distributing a bulletin or making announcements at the end of Mass. We can use modern methods to communicate important news. Connecting with individual families means we need to keep our information up to date, especially as families make changes to their contact information.

Communicating with the parish
In addition to the printed bulletin, we have other ways to share information:
Please take advantage of any or all of these ways of staying informed. As we return to public Masses, I will survey the parish about which of these means of communication are best for you.

Contributing to the parish
As you might imagine, our income has significantly declined since public Masses have been suspended. I know that some parishioners are struggling financially because of a disrupted income or loss of employment. However, please remember:
If you are still able to continue your support of St. Thomas Parish at this time, I urge you to do so.

Updating our parish records
Below you will find basic information about your registration at St. Thomas.

Primary phone:
Primary email:
Method of contribution:
Family members:

We want to make sure our information is correct. If any of the information above is not correct, please let us know. Please mail in your corrections, call the office at 688-3446, or email parishoffice@stthomas-church.net. Some parishioners provide specific contact information for individual family members, which you are welcome to include if you wish.

Praying together
We believe Christians everywhere are united in the mystical body of Christ. The saints in Heaven pray for us, just as we pray for one another all around the world. So, we are still united in prayer, even if isolated in our homes. Fr. Stark and I pray for each of you and we ask you to pray for us.

During the days of Holy Week and Eastertide, I encourage you to watch Mass on television or online. The Diocese of Peoria will broadcast Masses from around the diocese at cdop.org. I also encourage you to follow our parish blog at jgray.org, where I will post news, reflections, audio messages, and links that you can use.

Let us ask St. Michael the Archangel and St. Thomas the Apostle to intercede for us. I look forward to the time when we can gather again with a renewed hunger for the Eucharist and a fresh desire to live out our faith with even greater vigor!

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Msgr. Jason Gray
Pastor


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Sat Apr 04 2020 @ 7:00PM: Palm Sunday Reflection

On Palm Sunday, at the beginning of Mass, we remember Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem as the crowds greeted him with palms. Later, we also read the Passion, as Jesus dies on the cross. This year, the Passion is taken from the Gospel of Matthew.
You can click the following link to see the readings for Sunday.
http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/040520.cfm
Reflection on the Palm Sunday readings

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Fri Apr 03 2020 @ 4:25PM: Childrens' Stations of the Cross

On this Friday during Lent, I offer the Stations of the Cross, especially for our children to pray. Even if our grade school and CCD students cannot gather together for Stations at the parish, we can be united by praying them together in spirit.

Adults may find the following link helpful. The text is similar to the adult stations that are prayed each Friday evening
https://mycatholic.life/catholic-prayers/stations-of-the-cross/

Children may find the pictures at the following site helpful as they follow along with the audio of the Stations below:
https://www.fisheaters.com/stations.html
Audio of the Children's Stations

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Wed Apr 01 2020 @ 4:25PM: Lenten Confessions

Confession is normally an important part of the Lenten season. We have received guidance about safe ways to provide for hearing confessions. While we work out the details, be aware that we will be able to hear confessions this week according to our regular Lenten schedule. More information will come about confession times during Holy Week.

For now, confessions will be heard:
Friday (4/3) at 6 pm and
Saturday (4/4) at 4 pm and again at 6 pm.

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Mon Mar 30 2020 @ 1:45PM: What should I pray for at this time?

What should I pray for at this time? Here are some suggestions for petitions we might include in our personal prayer:

-For the Holy Father and leaders in the Church, that we may remain in union with them as we pray for them and they pray for us.
-For out civic officials, that they may be blessed with wisdom in their efforts to safeguard our society.
-For the sick and suffering, for those with infections and disease, that the Lord may restore them to health.
-For doctors, nurses, and all those who care for the sick and the elderly, may they be strengthened and blessed in their efforts to care for those in need.
-For our students and teachers, may Christ the divine teacher bless their work so they may continue to grow in wisdom and knowledge.
-For those who have lost their livelihood, may they be sustained by God's grace and return to work soon.
-For those who are alone, lonely or struggling, may they know the love of God who is close to the brokenhearted.
-For the dead, may they rest in peace and be welcomed to the Heavenly homeland where there are no more tears or sorrows.
-And for the Church, for her protection and purification during these difficult times:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.


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Sun Mar 29 2020 @ 10:10AM: What have you learned during this shutdown?

During times of crisis, we have to face a lot of changes quickly without taking much time to reflect on what is happening. I think it is good for us to pause, and think about what we're going through. We can learn from this experience by realizing what is insignificant and which things are most important to us in our lives. With new insights, we can refocus ourselves with fresh energy when the crisis ends.

And so, what have you learned during this shutdown period? When things return to normal, what will you do differently? What will you appreciate more? What goals will you set financially, socially, emotionally, or spiritually?

Here are some of mine:
-I will set aside more for emergencies.
-I will take more time to appreciate others around me.
-I will be more thankful when celebrating Mass with our community.
-I will work on using my time well.

Take some quiet time to think about what you learned. Spiritually, we can all appreciate the availability of confession and Communion.
If you feel comfortable, share your insights with me. Email me at msgrgray@stthomas-church.net. (No personal information will be shared publicly.)
-Msgr. Gray

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Sat Mar 28 2020 @ 4:00PM: Reflection on the Fifth Sunday of Lent
Here a reflection on the readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent about the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
You can find the readings for this Sunday here: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032920.cfm


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Sat Mar 28 2020 @ 3:00PM: Update about what's happening at St. Thomas
We continue to say Mass privately. We are praying for you and with you even though we are not together. We are cleaning and sterilizing both the school and the church.
Several events will be rescheduled: the Fish Fry, the Pancake Breakfast, and the Msgr. Rank Mass. We will probably receive the new Catholics in RCIA sometime after Easter.
Other events we hope to have on schedule, including First Communion.
Our food pantry continues to be open and is gladly accepting donations.
Listen to the update here:

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Fri Mar 27 2020 @ 7:00PM: Here's *A* thing: Pope Francis' special Urbi et Orbi blessing

AT the end of this 4th Week of Lent, 2020,

--FRI 27th EWTN will rebroadcast today's special Urbi et Orbi blessing by Pope Francis, at 7 pm, 10 pm & 4 am, tomorrow. This is a beautiful opportunity to participate in this blessing--usually reserved only to Christmas & Easter--to end the Corona virus. You may receive a plenary indulgence by participating.

You will probably never again see the roads of Rome, or St. Peter's Square, or the Basilica, so empty. This was originally broadcast today, at Noon in Peoria Heights [6 pm, Rome time]

We join our prayers with Pope Francis, & the Collect today, praying, O, God, save me by your name; by your power defend my cause. O, God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth.

--PERFECT ACT OF CONTRITION: As many people find it difficult or impossible to receive Jesus in Holy Communion, at this time, so do many people find it difficult or impossible at this time, to go to Confession & to receive penance and absolution.

As you probably know, there are two types of contrition:
- perfect: out of love of God;
- imperfect: out of fear of Hell.

When we go to confession, imperfect contrition is sufficient to receive the pardon of our sins. However, in extraordinary circumstances where [when] we cannot get to confession, we can make an act of perfect contrition, which is sufficient to have our sins forgiven.

Important: The act of perfect contrition includes the desire for the sacrament of Penance (or Reconciliation) & the intention to receive sacramental confession at the very first opportunity.

So, out of love of God, prepare for Spiritual Communion with an Act of Perfect Contrition, disposing your heart for our Lord...

Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

--SPIRITUAL COMMUNION:

My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.


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Above all else, wash your hands, maintain a social distance with each other, but remember this: you don't have to maintain any social distance from Jesus...in fact, draw close.

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

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Fri Mar 27 2020 @ 8:30AM: Stations of the Cross

Fridays are also a traditional day to celebrate the Stations of the Cross. You can pray the Stations privately wherever you may be. Here is a helpful resource you can use:

https://mycatholic.life/catholic-prayers/stations-of-the-cross/



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Thu Mar 26 2020 @ 2:00PM: Here's A thing: Celebrating the Incarnation on the Annunciation

THE SOLEMNITY OF THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LORD

On Wednesday, March 25, our Collect asks us to ask God to be partakers in the divine nature of Jesus, part of the Trinity, One God, for ever & ever... Our first reading & Gospel talk about the great Solemnity we celebrate today, announcing the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel, which means 'God is with us!.'

So, above & beyond everything else happening around us, today, remember this: ask God to become partakers even in the divine nature of Jesus; realize, regardless of everything else happening around us, 'God is with us! & all we need to do to be part of the divine nature of Jesus, to experience God with us, all we need to do is tell Him, Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

SPIRITUAL COMMUNION:

An Act of Spiritual Communion
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

+++ Above all else,


Regardless of how you do it, please do it. Pray... & then pray some more...
Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

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Wed Mar 25 2020 @ 3:00PM: The Annunciation of Mary and other news

Today is the feast day of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Annunciation is one of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, so I recommend praying the Joyful Mysteries today, though you can always pray any of the Mysteries of the Rosary in your prayer. A reflection on the Gospel is linked in the audio clip below, as well as the link to the readings of today's Mass.

Readings for March 25


Other News:
The Lake Street church doors are unlocked for the donation of food to the food pantry. Thank you for your generosity.
The Msgr. Rank Mass for the faithful departed will be rescheduled. Under the circumstances, it is not possible to celebrate this Mass today.
I am encouraged by some of the positive developments. It appears that the mortality rate for corona in this country is not 3%, but closer to 1%, and looking forward, it appears to likely be only a fraction of one percent. There is encouraging word about the decreasing rates of infection in China and Italy. There are hopeful signs of medications that may treat the symptoms of the virus, and promising developments about a future vaccine. Many people with retirement investments have seen a sudden and dramatic rebound in the market.
I am hopeful that we will be able to soon return to our normal way of life and, once again, to public Mass.
Please pray for God's blessing on us during this difficult time.

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Mon Mar 23 2020 @ 4:30PM: Here's A thing

In the Collect for Mass today, March 23, we ask God that your Church may be guided by your eternal design & not be deprived of your help in this present age. Given all we're experiencing in this present age, this is particularly appropriate... stay with us, Lord, stay with us.

SPIRITUAL COMMUNION: in these days in our Church, when churches are closed & we're staying home, away from the virus, when we miss receiving Holy Communion when & as we want it, we can always go to a long-standing tradition of Spiritual Communion.

We know many Catholics around the world don't enjoy our frequent access to the Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity of Jesus, really present to us. Briefly, our faith tells us Jesus wants to be with us, to be in communion with us, telling us, Remain in me, as I remain in you. [John 15:4] Jesus calls us to make our home in Him, as He makes His home in us.

So what do we do? As with everything, it's a matter of preparation & disposition to receive our Lord. He is always ready for us; but maybe we're not always ready for Him. Particularly in times of danger & upset, He is particularly eager to join us, to help us, to lift us up with courage for the road ahead. Even though we can't be in communion with Him as we might like, Jesus still wants to be with us.

Prepare & dispose yourself; you might want to watch Mass, televised or streamed online--not the same, but better than none at all. Certainly, read the readings for the Mass of the day www.usccb.org/bible/readings. If neither of those options is available, how do you prepare to receive Communion at Mass?

You might begin with an act of contrition for your sins, & a firm purpose of amendment resolving not to continue that habit or behavior. That can lead to what we say at Mass: Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word & my soul shall be healed. We're not worthy, of course, but we can be grateful Jesus calls us, anyway. Then pray,
An Act of Spiritual Communion
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

Regardless of how you do it, please do it. Pray... & then pray some more...

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Mon Mar 23 2020 @ 3:30PM: Reflection for Monday, March 23 (with audio link)

These reflections comment on today's readings at Mass.
The Msgr. Rank Mass for the faithful departed will be delayed.
We are thankful for donations to the food pantry and for the lower-than-expected mortality rate of the virus in the United States.
We are invited to make a spiritual Communion, and to never take for granted the accessibility we have to the Eucharist.
We look forward to celebrating Corpus Christi this year.

To follow along with today's readings, click here.


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Mon Mar 23 2020 @ 11:00AM: Thanks for your support of the food pantry

We have received many donations to our food pantry box. These donations are especially important now, because we expect greater demand from persons in need for food.
Thank you for your generosity!

As a reminder, the food pantry is in need of any non-perishable food items, especially the following.


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Sun Mar 22 2020 @ 8:00AM: Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Lent (with audio link)

Reflection on the Fourth Sunday of Lent. This Sunday is Laetare Sunday, a time to especially rejoice, as we hear the Gospel of the Man born blind from John 9. You can follow along with the scripture readings for this Sunday as you listen to this reflection, especially when we are not able to attend Mass in person.

Readings for the 4th Sunday of Lent (Right-click or tap-and-hold to open this page in a new tab.)


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Sat Mar 21 2020 @ 6:30PM: Access to St. Thomas church

After receiving further direction from the Diocese of Peoria regarding the order to shelter in place, we can no longer leave the church open for private prayer. We encourage the faithful to pray at home. Please make every effort to stay safe as we work to control the spread of disease.

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Sat Mar 21 2020 @ 3:20PM: Encouragement during this time (with audio link)

Message from Msgr. Gray encouraging all parishioners during this difficult time in which we are challenged to live our faith, even when we cannot come to Mass.


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Sat Mar 21 2020 @ 12:15PM: How are you spending your time?

How are you spending your time while sheltering in place?
Which of these would you choose?
Make good decisions and use this time well!



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Sat Mar 21 2020 @ 9:48AM: Announcements about shelter in place order

With the order to stay at home, please note the following.

>>Public Masses are suspended. The Sunday obligation is dispensed. We encourage everyone to stay at home and be safe.
>>All functions at St. Thomas (except confession) are suspended. The parish office will remain closed.
>>The church will be open for private prayer from 7 AM to 6 PM each day. Common surfaces are regularly cleaned. If you need a quiet place to pray, you are welcome to make a visit.
>>Confessions will be heard *behind the screen only*, Friday 6-7 PM, Saturday 4-4:45 PM and 6-6:30 PM.
>>Daily updates will go out on My Parish App.
>>Updates and messages will also be posted to http://www.jgray.org/st_thomas/.

Fr. Stark and I are here for you at St. Thomas. Even during this time when you cannot come to Mass, we continue to pray for you and with you.
We are part of the Mystical Body of Christ on earth, united with the saints in Heaven and the poor souls. Remember that we remain united in Christ and can do good for each other through our prayers, offerings, and sacrifices.

See http://www.jgray.org/st_thomas/ for more information.

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Sat Mar 21 2020 @ 9:36AM: Helpful suggestions for maintaining your spiritual life

Some helpful suggestions if you are stuck at home at this time:

-->Don't forget your spiritual life. Changes in our routine can tempt us to give up on our commitments. Carve out specific time to pray.
-->Stay connected. Take time to call those who are alone or most in need. Reach out to your family and friends. You are not alone even during this time.
-->Limit your TV and internet. Don't let TV and video take over your life. Take a break to read a book, take a walk, or call a friend.
-->Don't become too anxious. If watching too much news is making you nervous, turn it off for a while. The sensationalism of constant "breaking news" can make you worry more than you should.
-->Find activities that challenge you physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

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Fri Mar 20 2020 @ 7:50AM: Friday as a day of penance

Making this Friday in Lent a day of holy prayer and penance:

Even though we are restricted at this time, we can still consecrate this day to the Lord. Every Friday is a day to remember the Lord's sacrifice on the cross on Good Friday. Especially during Lent, we consecrate Fridays by abstaining from meat and by other works of penance. Your own personal sacrifices and penances are an important part of your Lenten commitment.

Even if we don't have public Mass, don't give up on our personal and private devotions during this season.

Fridays are also a traditional day to celebrate the Stations of the Cross. St. Thomas will be open from 7 AM to 7 PM. Copies of the Way of the Cross will be left out for those who would like to make a visit and privately pray the Stations. We have beautiful stations both in the church and in the daily Mass chapel. You can also pray the Stations at home. Here's a resource you can use:
https://mycatholic.life/catholic-prayers/stations-of-the-cross/

Friday confessions are also available today at St. Thomas in the confessionals in the daily Mass chapel from 6 to 7 PM. Confessions are *behind the screen* only because of health precautions. Find a link to an examination of conscience here:
https://www.stthomaspeoria.org/liturgy/mass-and-confession-schedule/

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Thu Mar 19 2020 @ 9:25AM: St. Joseph Feast Day

Happy St. Joseph Feast Day! Ask St. Joseph for his intercession today. Remember this:

Joseph was the just man who was chosen by God to be the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. He was placed at the head of the Holy Family with the special duty to care for his wife and child. Joseph is a great model especially for husbands and fathers who can look to his quiet example of faithful strength.

Joseph was attentive to the message of the angel who spoke to him in a dream. May the Archangel Gabriel also help us in our prayer. Joseph obeyed the angel and welcomed Mary into his home, giving the child the name, Jesus. May we also be ready to respond to the inspirations we receive in prayer.

Joseph led the Holy Family into exile in Egypt when Harod wanted to kill the Christ child. At a time when we may all feel a bit "in exile," ask St. Joseph to strengthen our faith as well. Joseph was a good protector of his family in very tough circumstances. Pray for his guidance during our own times of trial.

There are no public functions, but feel free to stop by St. Thomas between 7 AM and 7 PM today for private prayer. Our parish holy hour was scheduled for tonight at 6 PM. Come and pray before our Lord in the Eucharist.

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Wed Mar 18 2020 @ 12:14PM: Spiritual resources

We can still make this a *Holy Lent*. Here's how:
Even without public Masses, we all need time with the Lord. If you have extra free time, give some of it to God.

--Read the daily Mass readings. Tap the "Readings" icon on the App, or visit http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/index.cfm.
--Say the Rosary. If you're cooped up at home, take a walk to stretch your legs and pray to Our Lady. Fresh air is great medicine to clear the mind.
--Make a visit to church for private prayer. The church is open from 7 AM to 6 PM. Without any public functions, the church is empty. You can have some great quite time for just you and the Lord!
--If you know someone in need, call to check on them. A good phone call can be an act of charity. While we are at a distance, we can still remind people we are not alone.

The most contagious thing going around now is panic. Stay strong in your faith!

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Tue Mar 17 2020 @ 4:55PM: Announcement suspending public Mass

Update from St. Thomas Church:

Public functions and Masses have been suspended. The Bishop has dispensed the obligation of Sunday Mass. Private Masses will be offered for intentions that have been previously scheduled. In the meantime, please isolate yourself, wash your hands, and be careful.

For more information about St. Thomas, tap the "Messages" icon to scroll through these topics:
>>>How can I practice my faith at this time?
>>>How do I stay up-to-date with news at St. Thomas?
>>>Can I contribute electronically during this time?
>>>Can I support the food pantry during this time?

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Tue Mar 17 2020 @ 4:30PM: How to practice my faith

>>>How can I practice my faith at this time?

While public Masses are suspended, we will be following Bishop Jenky's directions for pastoral care:
- The church will be open during regular hours for those who wish to make a private visit for prayer.
- The parish office is open according to our summer hours schedule: 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM.
- Confessions are heard at the regular times (behind the screen only): Fridays from 6:00 - 7:00 PM; Saturdays from 4:00 - 4:45 PM and from 6:00 - 6:30 PM.
- Prayer books for the Stations will be made available on Fridays for those who want to come and privately pray the Way or the Cross.
- The food pantry continues to serve needy clients in the area on Monday and Thursday mornings. Your food donations are still needed and can be dropped off during regular hours.
- Our parish holy hour was scheduled for Thursday, March 19, at 6 PM. The church will be open and the faithful are welcome to make a visit for private prayer during this time.
- You may be able to watch Mass on television if you have EWTN or another channel that carries Catholic Mass. If you would like to attend Mass on-line, Bishop Robert Barron has made daily Mass available online:
https://www.wordonfire.org/daily-mass.

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Tue Mar 17 2020 @ 3:53PM: How to stay up to date at St. Thomas

>>>How do I stay up-to-date with news at St. Thomas?

(1) Download My Parish App.
Encourage others to visit myparishapp.com/download to download this app for themselves.
(2) Sign up for our weekly email updates.
We send out a weekly email with a link to the bulletin and a summary of important events every Friday morning. If you don't receive this email, please contact the parish office and we will be happy to add you to our notification list.
(3) Bookmark our parish website: stthomaspeoria.org.
We will post important notices on the homepage of the site.

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Tue Mar 17 2020 @ 3:50PM: How to support St. Thomas

>>>Can I contribute electronically during this time?

We have an easy and convenient way to contribute electronically with a simple text messaging feature that you can use. You can text donations to "St Thomas Giving": (309) 455-5425. You can manage ongoing contributions through the ConnectNow Giving app, available on your mobile device.
See the homepage of the St. Thomas website for more information: www.stthomaspeoria.org.

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Tue Mar 17 2020 @ 3:44PM: How to support the food pantry

>>>Can I support the food pantry during this time?

Your food donations are needed and very much appreciated during this difficult time. Any food items are appreciated.
In particular, the pantry is in need of: Tuna, Canned fruit, Meal helper, Jelly, Instant potatoes, Spaghetti sauce, Dry pasta and canned pasta, Pancake mix and syrup, Mac-n-Cheese

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Mon Apr 27 2020 @ 3:00PM: ###



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