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The Pastor's Column (Archive 2007)

Fr. Gray's 2007 Columns in the Parish Bulletin

December 30

As we look forward to a new year, please join us in celebrating the Holy Day of Obligation of Mary, Mother of God (January 1st). There will be a vigil Mass on New Year’s Eve at 7:30 pm and several Masses on New Year’s Day at 8:00 am, 10:00 am, and 7:30 pm.

I am happy to announce that our Renewing All Things in Christ Capital Campaign has surpassed the $2 million mark in dollars pledged. There is still much work to do as many parishioners have not yet been personally contacted by one of our campaign volunteers to ask for their investment in the future of our parish and school.

The month of January will be a busy time in our Campaign as we move past the half-way mark of our campaign goal. Please be generous in your support of our wonderful parish.

December 23

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas as we approach the Birth of Our Lord.

Please pay close attention to our Mass schedule over the next two weeks. Christmas is not only a Holy Day of Obligation, but also one of the most important solemnities of the Church Year. We will have three Masses on Christmas Eve and four Masses on Christmas Day.

Please also note the Holy Day of Obligation of Mary, Mother of God (January 1st). We will have a Mass on New Year’s Eve and several Masses on New Year’s Day. As you look forward to holiday travel, please keep in mind these special Holy Days and make plans in advance to attend Mass on these special days.

December 16

I wish everyone blessings in Advent as we draw nearer to the Birth of Our Lord. I thank you for your support of the collection for retired religious that is taken up this weekend.

For our school families, I draw your attention to the John Lancaster Spalding Scholarships offered by the Diocese of Peoria. As you will notice in the bulletin, families that wish to apply for financial aid for their children’s Catholic education are invited to apply for a Spalding Scholarship. I highly urge you to consider applying for a Spalding Scholarship, as these funds are drawn from diocesan funds gathered from the Rooted in Faith Diocesan Capital Campaign. Every dollar received from the diocesan Spalding Scholarship fund leaves our parish endowment with one more dollar to provide additional financial aid to needy families.

The deadline for applying for a Spalding Scholarship is February 15, 2008. Please be aware of this early deadline as you gather your tax documents for the 2007 year. These same documents are used to assess your level of financial need for a Spalding Scholarship. Please call the rectory if you have questions.

December 9

May God continue to bless you in this Advent Season.

Our Capital Campaign continues to go well. I am grateful to the more than 130 volunteers who have come forward to help us reach out to fellow parishioners to ask for their investment in the future of St. Vincent’s. We are well underway, but there is still much to do. After a pause around Christmastime, the campaign will continue into the month of January.

A few weeks ago I asked those who were interested in serving on our parish finance council to submit their resume in advance of our finance council election. Because we received two resumes for the two open positions, there will be no need for an election. I am happy to announce that Joe Dunlap will be returning to the finance council for his second three year term and I welcome Lon Lyons who will begin his first three year term. Congratulations!

December 2

First, as we enter into Advent, please be aware of the additional confession times which are printed in the bulletin.

Second, in order to further streamline our special collections, I have asked that envelopes for these collections be included in the packet of envelopes mailed to you each month. For December, you will find an envelope for the collection for Retired Religious, which is to be taken up December 16th. Additional envelopes for this special collection will be available in the church next week for those who need them.

Third, please be aware that all Christmas offerings belong to the parish. Any offering that is specifically intended for the priests must be clearly marked.

Have a blessed Advent!

November 25

I hope that everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday. As we celebrate the solemnity of Christ the King, we see that Advent is just a week away. I encourage each of you to make this a holy season of preparation for the birth of Christ.

Plan to consecrate Advent by attending daily Mass. The Advent and Christmas Seasons are consecrated by our Sunday Masses and the three Holy Days of Obligation that fall in these seasons: Immaculate Conception (Saturday, Dec. 8), Christmas (Tuesday, Dec. 25), and Mary Mother of God (Tuesday, Jan. 1). Consider also making this a special time to raise our minds to adore the Christ-child at daily Mass.

Plan to consecrate Advent by going to confession. Father Don and I will be adding the additional confession times listed below beginning in the first week of Advent (Dec 4). By making a good confession, we prepare our souls to best receive the graces that Jesus has to give us at Christmas. Confessions will be heard:

Tuesdays, 7 am – 8 am
Thursdays, 4 pm – 5 pm
Fridays, 8:30 am – 9:15 am
Saturdays, 2 pm – 4 pm
Saturdays, 8:15 pm until the last confession is heard

November 18

Next week we take up a special collection for the annual Campaign for Human Development. Envelopes will be available in every pew next week for your contribution to this worthy cause.

Mr. Birdoes has recently sent each of our school parents a questionnaire as part of our ongoing accreditation process through the North Central Association. I encourage every parent to provide us with helpful feedback by returning this questionnaire as soon as possible. These questionnaires are only one part in a larger process to develop ways to strengthen the quality of education offered in our parochial school. I am grateful to Mr. Birdoes, to each of our faculty, and to our education commission who have been working diligently this fall to help us develop these plans for the future.

Making substantive improvements in our school requires time and study. I remain committed to this process that we have already begun to study our needs, to develop strategies for improvement, and finally to implement those strategies. As we continue to make progress in this process, I look forward to speaking more about upcoming improvement to our school program.

November 11

Last weekend, I spoke to the parish about our building project and capital campaign. I would like to again express my gratitude to our campaign co-chairs for their enthusiastic support of this important project. Many volunteers from our parish have already been asked to help with the campaign. In the weeks to come, many more volunteers will be asked to give of their time. I am grateful for the generosity of so many parishioners who have responded so wholeheartedly. I have no doubt that our project will be a great success!

I hope to see many parishioners at the Women’s Guild Holiday Bazaar on Saturday, November 17th. This function is the main fundraiser for the Women’s Guild and provides funds for many other activities throughout the year that benefit our parishioners and school families. The entire day from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm is a fun-filled time with other parishioners. Please come to play games, to enjoy food and refreshments, and to do a little advance shopping for the holiday season. I’ll see you there!

November 4

In the spring, we had several opportunities to acquaint our parishioners with the work on our proposed building project. As we undertake the campaign to raise the money for this project, I would like to provide additional opportunities to talk about the project and answer your questions. Please come to the parish hall for a tour of the facilities and a Q&A session on Tuesday, November 6th from 3:30-4:30 pm, or Wednesday, November 7th from 7:00-8:00 pm. I and several of our campaign volunteers will be on hand to walk parishioners through the project and entertain any questions you might have.

I would like to offer a further explanation of a dollar figure in the campaign brochure that was mailed to each parishioner. I indicated that approximately $1,400,000 would pay for professional services, interest, and contingencies. I believe it is important to identify all the expenses associated with our building project in a transparent way. I am happy to provide additional detail. Approximately $700,000 covers the professional services to be paid to our architect, construction manager, and fundraiser. The other $700,000 includes construction contingencies and the estimated interest on the interim financing. I have included a budget for contingencies should a part of the project cost more than estimated. I have also budgeted for the interest we will pay for temporarily borrowing the funds to pay for the project while we wait for campaign pledges to be paid.

I appreciate all the interest that has been shown in our building project and the campaign brochure.

October 28

There are several items of note:

Confirmation and the 30th anniversary of the Parish Church: We celebrate the 30th anniversary of the parish church’s dedication this Tuesday. Bishop Jenky will come to confirm our eighth grade students on Tuesday at 7:00 pm. Please help us celebrate the vigil of this anniversary and pray for our eighth grade students by joining us for Vespers and Benediction Monday night at 7:00 pm.

World Mission Sunday Special Collection: This Sunday we take up our second collection for the support of the missions. I thank you for your generous support.

One Common Collection: Rather than taking up two separate collections, we will try something different this year. Envelopes for World Mission Sunday will be placed at the ends of each pew for the convenience of each parishioner. We will ask then ask the ushers to pass by only one time. Contributions in the parish envelopes will go to the parish. Contributions in the Mission envelopes will go to the Missions. If you put your envelope number on your Mission envelope, your contribution will be recorded for tax purposes. If you were not able to contribute to the Missions this weekend, you are welcome to bring your contribution marked for the “Missions” next weekend.

Our Parish and School Building Project: Our fundraising efforts are underway. With the tremendous help of many parishioners who have vigorously worked behind the scenes, we are now ready to proceed in earnest with fundraising for our building project. Every parishioner will receive a campaign brochure in the next few days. I and the campaign co-chairs will speak to the whole parish about this project in the coming weeks.

Homily given on October 21, 2007: Parish Financial Report

October 21

I have been occupied since the beginning of the school year with a lot of behind-the-scenes work on the planning for our school and parish improvement project. I have asked for the assistance of Dr. Wilhelm from the Cosgriff Company who is here to assist with fundraising. I have asked for the assistance of a brochure committee which has been of great service in preparing printed materials. I have asked for the assistance of several parishioners to help lead these efforts as campaign co-chairs. I have asked for the ongoing advice and support of our construction committee.

In the next week and a half, I will be sending a campaign brochure to every parish member. This brochure will outline the anticipated project in greater detail.

When you receive your copy, I hope that you will spend some time reviewing the information in the brochure. I look forward to speaking about this project with the assistance of our co-chairs in the weeks that follow. We ask our patron, St. Vincent de Paul, to watch over us and guide us in fulfilling the mission of our parish.

October 14

The 30th anniversary of the dedication of our parish church is coming up in a few weeks. It was 30 years ago on October 30th when Bishop Edward O’Rourke dedicated the church designed and built by Msgr. Robert Livingston. In a few weeks, on Tuesday, October 30th, Bishop Daniel Jenky will come to St. Vincent de Paul to celebrate this anniversary and to confirm our eighth grade students.

One of the ways in which the Catholic Church honors a feast of great importance is by celebrating a vigil. This year, on Monday, October 29th, we will celebrate the vigil of our church’s anniversary of dedication. At this vigil, we will have a Solemn Vespers, also called Evening Prayer, followed by Benediction. Vespers is an ancient part of the Liturgy of the Hours which incorporates readings from the psalms, the New Testament, and the Gospels.

The evening will open with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 6:00 PM. Vespers will begin at 7:00 PM with Benediction following shortly after. Those who come at 6:00 PM will have the opportunity to make a quiet holy hour praying for our parish and for those to be confirmed. Even if you don’t come for the holy hour, please still plan to come before 7:00 PM so you can join with us in the celebration of Vespers.

October 7

We conducted our Annual Diocesan Appeal weekend late last spring. As you remember, this appeal supports the diocesan programs that benefit parishes and institutions throughout the diocese. Over the summer, pledge cards continued to come in as parishioners responded either to the pledge weekend or the follow-up letters. Our parish goal was $105,305.00, and every dollar collected above our goal is returned to the parish.

I am happy to announce our pledges have exceeded our goal by $25,000. As these pledges are paid, the parish receives checks from the diocese for this surplus. I recently received the first check for $4,000. As we continue contributing toward our pledges, the parish will receive monthly checks for the remaining surplus. Unlike last year when our parish fell short of our ADA goal, we have exceeded our goal this year handily.

The surplus we receive monthly from our ADA pledges will be added to our building fund along with the rebates we receive quarterly from the diocesan Rooted in Faith campaign. None of this would be possible without your continued generosity. I am most grateful for your dedication and your support of this wonderful parish!

September 30

First, I would like to draw your attention to a workshop that will be held on Friday, October 5th, at Weaver Ridge on the dangers of the Internet for your children. Many children know more about computers than their parents. They are often not afraid to explore the Internet, although they are often unaware of the dangers that exist online.

The Antioch Group is presenting information that will alert parents and all those who care for children to these threats. Please consider making time in your schedule for this workshop. Much of the cost of the workshop has been underwritten, making this a great opportunity to hear from real experts in the field of high risk behavior among children.

Second, Share Food needs additional volunteers to continuing operating a pick-up site at St. Vincent de Paul Parish. Share Food offers a monthly variety of different foods at greatly discounted prices. If you’re interested in helping continue the work of Share Food in this parish, please contact me and I will provide you with more information.

September 16

This weekend we salute all of our catechists who teach the faith by their instruction in the classroom and by their example of faith.

St. Vincent de Paul Parish is blessed with hardworking volunteers who teach our children at CCD on Wednesday nights, energetic teachers who teach religion to our children at the grade school, and generous assistants who work with Fr. Don and myself to teach the adult converts in our RCIA classes on Monday nights. We thank all of you for your service in helping our faith to be better known and loved. All of our catechists will be specially recognized at the 9:00 am Mass this weekend.

We have taken the first steps to raise funds for important improvements to our school and parish offices this fall. As this process begins, I will be working with some of our committees to prepare printed materials that describe our plans. Perhaps you or someone you know has a special skill in graphic design who would be able to help us as we begin. If so, please consider contacting me at 691-3602 x260 or frgray@cdop.org.

September 9

In the month of August, I called attention to four areas of our parish life that were in need of volunteers. During the four weekends in August, representatives from the ushers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, CCD teachers, and choir members were in the back of the church to answer questions from those who are interested in volunteering.

I am happy to announce that over 100 parishioners stepped forward to help in one of these areas. I am grateful for this generous spirit and hope that this same generosity will continue when other volunteers are needed in the future.

Fr. Ryan Bredemeyer has been with us for several months this summer. However, on September 23rd, we will bid him farewell as he returns to Rome to finish his licentiate degree in spiritual theology. He will complete that degree next June at which time he will return to the Diocese of Peoria for his permanent assignment.

September 2

We wish everyone at St. Vincent de Paul a very happy Labor Day this Monday. Please note that on civic holidays like Labor Day there will be only one Mass that day at 9:00 AM. Please come join us for Mass to ask God to sanctify our labor and bring success to the work of our hands.

During this past year, our computer staff at the school has been working to prepare a new parish website. That work is now largely completed and the website has launched: svdppeoria.com. I have worked with our staff to provide helpful and relevant information which we will continue to update. I hope this provides a helpful source of information for our parishioners and for those who visit our parish.

August 26

This weekend, members from our traditional choir and our contemporary choir will be on hand in the back of the church to answer questions about joining one of our choirs. Please consider lending your voice to our celebration of the Mass.

Each fall, we begin the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) for those who are interested in learning more about the Catholic Faith. These classes will cover all the essential elements of our faith. RCIA is open to those interested in becoming Catholic, those who want to learn about the Catholic Church, and Catholics who want to understand their faith better.

Classes begin on Monday, September 10th at 7:00 pm in the School Library. These classes will continue on Mondays until the Easter Vigil when those who want to become Catholic will be baptized or received into the Church. The first meeting will explain the RCIA program in greater detail and all are invited to attend.

I ask for your help to identify those who should be invited to participate in the RCIA program this year. In the back of this bulletin, there is an RCIA inquiry form. You can use the top part of this form to suggest names of candidates for RCIA. Or, you can clip the bottom part of this form and give it to a potential candidate who might wish to sign up.

Please take some time to consider those you know who should be invited to learn more about the Catholic Church.

August 19

This weekend, some of our CCD teachers will be in the back of the church to answer questions about our program for providing our children with religious instruction on Wednesday evenings.

Next weekend, representatives of our traditional and contemporary choirs will be in the back of the church to invite you to join our music program.

Our traditional choir generally sings at the 9:00 am Mass on Sundays and practices Tuesday evenings at 7:00 pm. Our contemporary choir generally sings at the 10:30 am Mass on Sundays and practices Thursday evenings at 7:00 pm. More specific schedules are provided by the respective choir members.

The parishioners who sing in the choir help the celebration of our Masses by drawing our hearts and minds into prayer through song. No previous musical experience is required. The members of each choir are ready to welcome and assist those who lend their voices to our liturgies. Both choirs provide parishioners with a way of becoming more active and involved in the life of this parish.

If you have questions, please contact Carol Wake regarding the traditional choir at 682-6574 or 231-6574. Please contact Hilda Furkert regarding the contemporary choir at 692-6973.


Over the summer, I have been working with architects, construction managers, and fundraising companies to help us prepare for the expected improvements to the school and parish office space which I spoke about late last spring. I look forward to welcoming Dr. Stephen Wilhelm who will come to St. Vincent’s in September. He will help us with fundraising efforts this fall.

August 12

This weekend, some of our extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion will be in the back of the church to answer questions about volunteering to distribute Communion.

Next weekend, we will have some of our CCD teachers in the back of the church to explain what is required to help teach or assist with our parish CCD program.

Our CCD program provides catechetical instruction for students from grades 1 through 8 on Wednesday evenings from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm during the school year. This program is an important part of a child's religious formation, especially as they prepare to make their first Confession, first Communion, and Confirmation.

The CCD program relies on a group of volunteers who serve as teachers or aides for each of these classes. Volunteers do not need to have teaching experience, but they should have an interest in learning more about the faith and in passing it on. A curriculum and detailed course materials are provided to guide the teachers through the school year. If you have questions, please contact Rachel Wack at 691-5012 ext 211.

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?" (Rom 10:13-14).

August 5

This weekend, representatives from our parish ushers will be in the back of the church to answer your questions and invite you to become an usher.

Next weekend, we will have extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion in the back of the church to explain what is required to help distribute Holy Communion.

Our extraordinary ministers help us at Mass so that the distribution of Communion does not take an undue amount of time. Our extraordinary ministers are especially helpful on Sundays at the 9:00 and 10:30 am Masses since we need enough ministers to distribute both the hosts and the Precious Blood. Some of our extraordinary ministers help distribute Communion to the shut-in members of our parish, the Catholics at our local nursing homes, or the Catholic patients at Proctor Hospital. Their assistance with visiting the elderly and the infirm is a truly valuable service and a share in the mission of Christ who cared for the sick.

Extraordinary ministers are given the mandate to distribute Communion by the bishop or vicar general. They may be men or women, older or younger adult members of the parish. They should dress appropriately, but need not wear coat and tie. They should above all be committed Catholics of upright life and be prayerfully devoted to the Eucharist which they distribute to their brothers and sisters. Therefore, I invite you to consider volunteering as an extraordinary minister. Volunteers will go through a period of training. If the diocesan mandate is granted, you can begin serving as an extraordinary minister.

July 29

Next weekend will be the first of four weekends at which different groups from the parish will be present to request volunteers. Next weekend, a representative from the ushers will be in the back of the church after every Mass to explain what is required of new ushers.

Our ushers help our weekend Masses flow smoothly. They not only take up the collection, but they also insure the hymnals are put out, help parishioners find a seat, and put the bulletins out at the doors of the church.

I would like to have more than three or four ushers assigned to each Mass. When one of the ushers is unable to be present for a weekend, we find ourselves frequently shorthanded and our offertory can be unnecessarily delayed.

Ushers can be men or women, older members or younger members. (Coat and tie are not required.) Ushers can be assigned to one Mass only, or sign up to substitute at Masses according to availability. Please stop by the table at the back of the church next weekend to sign up.

July 22

A parish the size of St. Vincent’s requires a lot of volunteers to help keep all the activities in the parish running smoothly. However, in a parish the size of St. Vincent’s, it is easy for any one parishioner to think that someone else will step forward to volunteer when a need arises.

I encourage every parishioner to take a full and active role in the life of this parish, according to their individual gifts, skills, talents, and availability.

In order to provide this encouragement and make it easier for people to volunteer, each weekend in the month of August, we will highlight a different part of our parish for which volunteers are needed. Each weekend, after each of the Masses, a representative from that group will be on hand in the back of the church to answer questions and invite those who are interested to sign up. I look forward to this personal way of extending an invitation to each parishioner to become more involved in the life of this parish.

July 15

Many of you have had the opportunity to work with Rachel Wack, who has helped us at St. Vincent's over the past two years. She has been here as part of an internship program through which she will earn a master's degree in theology. Please keep her in prayer as she is completing the last requirements for her M.A. this month at Notre Dame University.

At the end of the school year in May, I announced to the grade school and the CCD students that Rachel Wack would assume responsibilities for teaching 8th grade religion and coordinating our CCD program in the fall. We look forward to her return in August after she finishes her studies.

In this week's bulletin, I would like to call your attention to our need for some new volunteers to help as teachers or aides in our CCD classrooms. I ask for your generous response to help teach our young children. I hope to have several volunteers come forward, so our openings can be filled in August when Rachel returns to St. Vincent's. If you have questions, please contact the religious education office or call the rectory.

July 8

I would like to thank all of those who have contributed to the Annual Diocesan Appeal this year. A few weeks ago, I wrote to the parish members who had not participated in this appeal. I am grateful to the many parishioners who responded to that request.

As you may remember from last year, we received pledges which were about 23% below our parish goal. The parish is responsible for the shortfall from last year's appeal. This year, I am happy to announce that our pledges well exceeded our goal of $105,305. As of this weekend, we have received pledges of approximately $120,000 which places us about 14% over our goal. I am most grateful and very much encouraged by the positive and enthusiastic response of our parishioners. If you have not filled out your pledge card, I still invite you to do so. Every dollar we receive over our parish goal comes back to this parish and will be placed in our building fund.

I am also very grateful to all who are making their ongoing payments to the Rooted in Faith diocesan capital campaign. St. Vincent's continues to receive quarterly deposits equal to 20% of the contributions made by our parishioners, which I have also been depositing regularly in our building fund.

July 1

On July 1, 1962, the Most Reverend John Franz, fifth Bishop of Peoria, canonically established the parish of St. Vincent de Paul and officially appointed Father Robert Livingston as the founding pastor of the parish. This 45th anniversary of St. Vincent de Paul gives us an opportunity to reflect with gratitude on the many blessings this parish has experienced over the years.

During the 45th year of this parish, we look forward to two special dates for celebration. First, our patronal feast day will be Thursday, September 27th, the solemnity of St. Vincent de Paul. Second, our parish church will celebrate the 30th anniversary of its dedication on Tuesday, October 30th.

May God continue to pour out his abundant blessings on this parish for many years to come!

June 24

Bishop Jenky will celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation for our eighth grade students on Tuesday, October 30th of this year. This will be a special celebration because it will also mark the 30th anniversary of the dedication of our parish church.

I bring this to the attention of the parish because Confirmation is a sacrament that every Catholic should receive. Sometimes Catholics miss the chance to be confirmed during their grade school years because their family may have moved to a new parish where the confirmation program is held at a different time. Perhaps some other event or circumstance made it difficult to receive Confirmation. Whatever the reason, let this be the time to step forward.

If there are any adults in the parish who have not been confirmed, I invite you to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in this special sacrament. In the fall, we will have a brief review of the faith for any adult confirmands in preparation for their confirmation at the end of October. Please contact the rectory or let me know if you are interested in being confirmed.

June 17

Every member of the Church shares a responsibility to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life. By encouraging young men and women to consider becoming priests and religious, we help ensure that the preaching of the Word, the celebration of the sacraments, and the living out of a radical Christian witness will continue to build up the Church for the next generation.

This weekend we welcome Fr. Ryan Bredemeyer who will be with us for a few months until he has to return to his studies in the fall. Fr. Bredemeyer was ordained just a few weeks ago at the Cathedral in Peoria. We give thanks to God for the willingness of all those who have recently been ordained to respond to God's call in their lives.

I hope that many of the young men of the parish consider attending one of the Emmaus Days retreats in the coming weeks. Incoming juniors and seniors are invited to the Emmaus Days retreat at King's House in Henry at the end of June. Seventh grade through sophomores are invited to the retreat at St. Bede Abbey in Peru in the second week of July. Please join me in encouraging the young men of our parish to consider attending one of these retreats.

June 10

We look forward to the Diocesan Summer Catechetical Institute which will take place at St. Vincent de Paul next Friday and Saturday. The Office of Catechetics has organized a great list of speakers and presenters for this two day conference.

Please be aware that there is no 8:00 am Mass on Friday, June 15th as Bishop Jenky will be celebrating a Mass at 8:45 am. All are welcome to attend. On Saturday, June 16th, confessions will be delayed because of the presentation on Acts of the Apostles in the church. Confessions will be held from 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm.

To change the subject completely, there has been an increase in teenagers late at night in the church parking lot, sometimes doing any number of bizarre things. There is no reason for teens to be in the church lot after dark, nor is St. Vincent's a meeting place for teens to figure out what to do at night. St. Vincent's had some trouble with vandalism last summer which I want to avoid this summer. I will continue to ask kids sitting in our parking lot at night to leave, keeping a record of all those I have asked to vacate the parking lot at night.

I have also noticed some drivers at night who appear to be attempting to set a new "land speed record" while passing through our lot from University to Northmoor. To discourage this behavior, I will be locking the gate in our lot from time to time at night. The gate will be unlocked in the morning, although some parishioners who arrive very early for morning Mass may sometimes notice the gate locked.

June 3

As we finish the school year, I would like to thank all those who have given their time volunteering at St. Vincent's. I would like to single out those who help us at Mass as lectors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, servers, ushers, and musicians.

During the summer months, many families take time to travel on vacation. If you are assigned to serve in one of these liturgical roles at Mass, I very much appreciate your efforts to find a substitute when you must be away. Your faithful commitment helps us to enjoy the prayerful celebration of Mass during these summer months.

During the summer, our new fifth grade servers will begin serving daily Masses. I thank the parents for taking on the responsibility of bringing their children to these Masses. Please encourage them as they begin this new service.

I appreciate the willingness of others in the parish to volunteer at our Masses. In particular, we could use more ushers at some of our Masses, especially Sundays at 10:30 am. If you are interested in helping, please contact myself or one of the ushers after Mass.

May 27

This weekend three priests were ordained for the diocese of Peoria. I am happy to announce that one of those priests will be joining us for the summer months. A few days ago, Bishop Jenky assigned Fr. Ryan Bredemeyer to St. Vincent de Paul for his first priestly assignment.

Fr. Ryan Bredemeyer comes from Elmhurst and joined the seminary program for the diocese of Peoria after attending the University of Illinois in Champaign. He was assigned to Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. to complete his bachelor's degree and licentiate in philosophy. Afterwards, he was assigned to the North American College in Rome. He has completed his initial studies in theology and is working on his licentiate (S.T.L.) with a specialization in spiritual theology. In order to complete his S.T.L., he will need to return to Rome in the fall for one final year of study.

Fr. Don and I are very happy to have Fr. Bredemeyer with us for these months and we look forward to his arrival by June 13th.

May 20

This past week we saluted our CCD students who finished the year with our closing CCD Mass. I would like to congratulate the students for all their good efforts and hard work. This weekend we also recognize the graduating 8th grade class from our parish grade school. They have also worked hard this year, and I look forward to their graduation Mass this Sunday at noon.

Although all our 8th grade students have now finished this stage of their studies, it is important to remember that each of us must always make efforts to learn more about our faith and grow in our relationship with God. May God be with each of our young people and keep them strong in the love of God.

Last weekend was the time for priests to announce any change of assignments to their parishes. I would like to announce that we have nothing to announce this year. Fr. Don and I are happy to announce that neither of us have any change of assignment this year.

May 13

Last week I completed several public presentations on the research and proposals for our school and parish buildings. I am very grateful for the warm response that I have received from the parish for these important and needed projects. I have presented this material to some parishioners in small groups, including our teachers, our education commission, and our finance council. When I add in the number of people who came to the parish hall last week, I find that about 400 parishioners have attended one of these building presentations.

I have received some very helpful and insightful feedback from some parishioners who had comments or suggestions to make after hearing the presentation. I will take all of these suggestions back to the committees that have guided this project over the past months. These ideas and comments will help us hone and refine the project.

Finally, I would like to express my profound gratitude to the finance council, education commission, teachers, and representatives from the construction and fundraising committees who assisted with the walking tour of the school. These generous volunteers helped explain the components of the project to the parishioners as they walked around our school building.

The handout from the building presentation can be seen at www.jgray.org/svdp/building.html.

May 6

This weekend, our 2nd grade students received their first Holy Communion. One of the things that impresses me the most is the great reverence that these little children show for the greatest blessing we receive as Catholics: the Body and Blood of Christ!

I ask you to continue praying for these little ones that the graces they receive may continue to grow and lead them always to greater holiness of life. However, we can also be taught by their simple reverence. This is a good time for each of us to consider the reverence with which we approach the Holy Eucharist. It is good for us to give Jesus our full attention as we approach to receive him. It is good for us to arrive before Mass so we can prepare our hearts and minds to receive our Lord in prayer. It is good for us to make a thanksgiving after Mass to our Savior in humble gratitude for the gift we have received. The simple reverence of these little children is a good reminder for each of us.

Please also remember in prayer the men to be ordained as permanent deacons at our Cathedral on May 19th. Also remember in prayer the three men to be ordained priests and the four men to be ordained as transitional deacons on May 26th.

April 29

I would like to draw your attention to three things at St. Vincent de Paul:

First, we continue to pray for all those students who will be making their first Holy Communion this coming Saturday, May 5th. The First Communion Mass will be at 10:00 am. I know this will be a special day for our 2nd graders, and also for their families.

Second, I thank each member of this parish who completed their pledge card this weekend for the Annual Diocesan Appeal. If you have decided to take your pledge card home to fill out, please return your card next week.

Third, I strongly encourage each parishioner to make time to attend one of the public presentations I will be giving next week on the potential building project for our parish and school. The presentations will be Tuesday, May 1st, at 7:00 pm; Thursday, May 3rd, at 7:00 pm; and Sunday, May 6th, around 11:30 am (after donuts are served for Donut Sunday). I will begin each presentation in the parish hall. The initial presentation will be followed by a walking tour of the school during which parishioners can learn about the components of the project as they walk through the building. I look forward to the opportunity to share with you the hard work, research, and planning that have been completed over the past months.

April 22

Next weekend we will conduct the Annual Diocesan Appeal. Our goal for the Annual Diocesan Appeal is $105,305 which is a slight decrease from last year.

This appeal funds many of the diocesan programs for the next fiscal year. We belong not only to St. Vincent de Paul Parish; we are also members of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria. Because this is our parish and our diocese, it is important that we do our part to support the work of the Church in this area.

The Annual Diocesan Appeal pays for the formation of our seminarians who are studying to be priests. It pays for Catholic campus ministry at many of the public colleges in our diocese. It pays for the services offered by the Family Life Office, including marriage preparation programs. It pays for the programs that are offered each year to promote respect for life and chastity education for our children. It pays for the services offered by the Office of Catholic Schools which directly benefit St. Vincent's grade school and the other 47 Catholic schools in this diocese. These diocesan programs are vital to our Catholic mission and I urge you to offer your generous support.

Next weekend pledge cards will be available in each pew at each Mass. I will share some additional information with you about the Annual Diocesan Appeal and then invite you to join me in making a pledge to support these important works.

April 15

Three weeks ago, I indicated in the bulletin that I would conduct several public presentations after Easter to provide information to the parish about the research that has been done into improvements to our parish school. I would like to announce three dates for these meetings.

A presentation will be given in the parish hall on Tuesday, May 1st at 7:00 pm; Thursday, May 3rd at 7:00 pm; and Sunday, May 6th after the 10:30 am Mass. As Sunday, May 6th, is a donut Sunday, the presentation will begin after coffee and donuts have been served.

At these meetings, I will share the study of our current facilities and the recommendations for physical improvements to our existing space. I will present the proposed plans for new space for the school and parish offices. I will present the findings of the Cosgriff Company regarding the feasibility of undertaking this project. Finally, I will also present the data that has been gathered regarding the demographics of this area and student enrollment.

I invite you to attend one of these meetings and I look forward to sharing with you the fruits of the past months of planning and research.

April 8

On behalf of Fr. Don and all the staff at St. Vincent de Paul, I would like to wish you all a very happy Easter. May the resurrection of Our Lord bring each of us the grace of new life.

Beginning with the Easter season, we will begin offering Communion under both species at the 9:00 am and 10:30 am Masses on Sundays and on some 8:00 am weekday Masses. As you know, some adjustments will need to be made in the distribution of Communion in order to facilitate this change. I met with the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion a few weeks ago to prepare for this change. I am grateful for their help and cooperation.

When coming forward for Communion, two sections of pews will now come forward on their left and return on their right in such a way that each of our aisles will now be one-way. I ask the farthest sections of pews to use the outside aisles to come forward (the Blessed Mother aisle and the choir aisle). I ask the two middle sections of pews to use the middle aisle to come forward (the funeral/wedding aisle). This leaves the remaining two aisles for people to return to their pews (the gift table aisle and the stations aisle).

When the Precious Blood is distributed, communicants can approach the extraordinary ministers standing at the edge of the sanctuary. However, even when the cup is not offered, I still ask that we use this method of coming forward for Communion. While a little time may be needed to adjust to this change, in the long run we will avoid confusion by having a common system for receiving Communion that we use at all our Masses.

March 25

We are a week away from Holy Week. I encourage each of you to plan to attend the special liturgies during this great week of the Church year. On Monday, April 2nd, at 1:00 pm the Chrism Mass will be celebrated at the Cathedral. This is the Mass at which the holy oils for the year are blessed by the Bishop and distributed to each parish. On Holy Thursday, please join us to celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper. Please spend some time with our Lord in the garden that evening until midnight. On Good Friday, please join us for one of our two celebrations of the Lord's Passion at which we recall our Lord's sacrifice and venerate his holy cross. On Holy Saturday we celebrate the Easter Vigil, the mother of all vigils. At this Mass, we will bless the Easter candle and welcome the RCIA candidates into the Church.

Last year, the Cosgriff Company conducted a feasibility study in preparation for a building project for our parish and school. I have recently asked the Cosgriff Company to re-evaluate this feasibility study. With their help, we have identified the fall of 2007 as the best time for us to conduct a campaign for improvements and additions to our school and parish offices.

For several weeks, our construction sub-committee has put in a lot of painstaking and essential work in studying our existing facility and our needs. This background study is crucial to the development of future plans. Now that this work is largely complete, I plan to conduct several public meetings after Easter to share with the parish at large our progress thus far. I look forward to sharing the plans that have been developed as well as data about our parish demographics.

March 18

I indicated in this column a few weeks ago that I would like to begin making Communion available under both species as some of our Masses. For a trial period, I intend to distribute the Blood of Christ at the 9:00 and 10:30 am Masses on the Sundays of the Easter Season beginning April 15th. After this trial period, our schedule for distributing the cup will be reviewed.

Distributing Communion under both species at St. Vincent's presents a few challenges. First, I will need to meet with our extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to review our procedures for distributing Communion. I ask all of our extraordinary ministers to come to a 30 minute meeting on Tuesday, March 27th at 7:00 pm in the church. During this meeting, we will walk through the changes that will be necessary to make the cup available.

Second, the manner in which we come forward to receive Communion will require some adjustment. The flow of people as they come forward to the altar can easily become congested. To avoid additional congestion when distributing from the cup, I will adjust which aisles are used by those coming forward to receive Communion and which aisles are used by those returning to their pews. A more detailed explanation will follow as we approach the Easter season.

I look forward to our brief meeting with our extraordinary ministers and thank them for their assistance in distributing Communion.

March 11

I would like to address some questions about our weekly report from our Sunday collections. Shortly after I came to St. Vincent's, I took two steps to provide better financial transparency to our parishioners. I began publishing the year-to-date totals for our regular Sunday collections in the bulletin and I issued a financial report in the fall for the previous fiscal year. I know that the steadily increasing year-to-date deficit has caused some concern. There are three points I would like to bring to your attention:

First, our Sunday collections are our main source of ordinary income as a parish. However, there are other extraordinary sources of income including memorial donations, bequests, interest income, and rebates from the Rooted in Faith diocesan campaign. Furthermore, there are also donations to the school endowment and the building fund. I am happy to announce that each of these extraordinary sources of income is currently over budget for this fiscal year. The Christmas collection (which is also a separate line item) amounted to $42,654—well in excess of its budgeted amount. After the close of the fiscal year, I look forward to sharing a full report of our fiscal year with the parish in the early fall.

Second, when this budget was prepared, the amount budgeted for Sunday collections was the last figure to be determined. The Sunday collections line item was not determined in relation to our previous year's income. Instead, it was set to bring the rest of the budget into balance. As a result, the budget for this line item is admittedly aggressive. A budget deficit does not mean that collections are down from previous years. Rather, Sunday collections are on par with previous years.

Third, the number of regularly contributing parishioners is larger than the number of envelopes reported from week to week. A sizeable number of parishioners elect to make larger monthly contributions in place of weekly contributions. The envelope count appears lower because of the other weeks of the month in which these contributions are not made.

These points provide a fuller picture of our budget and should ease any concerns. However, I encourage every member of St. Vincent's to continue your faithful and generous support of our mission through your regular contributions. Most of all, I want to express my deep gratitude to each of our parishioners for your generosity.

March 4

On Sunday, the members of our RCIA class were present at the Cathedral for the Rite of Election. At this ceremony, the Bishop enrolled the catechumens (those not baptized) among the elect and called the candidates (those already baptized) to continuing conversion. We have seven members of our RCIA class and look forward to welcoming them into the Church at the Easter Vigil in the coming weeks. Please keep them in your prayers.

Also on Sunday, the junior high basketball season ended with the final championship game of the diocesan tournament. Congratulations to our 6th, 7th, and 8th grade boys basketball teams for winning the championship title. Also congratulations to all our boys and girls who played this fall and winter on a very successful season!

As we move from Lent to Easter, I plan to introduce some enhancements to our liturgical celebrations. In particular, I would like to begin offering Communion under both species at some of our Masses. There are some practical details to resolve and some preparations will have to be made with the help of our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Above all, it is important that the Eucharist be distributed prayerfully and reverently. As these details are resolved, I look forward to this addition to our liturgy.

February 25

Last weekend, Fr. Don and I attended the Diocesan Scouting Mass at which many Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from St. Vincent de Paul were given religious awards. At that Mass, I learned that the Boy and Girl Scouts of the Diocese of Peoria have been singled out for special recognition for their excellent Scouting program. I also learned that St. Vincent's has the single largest scouting program of any other parish in the diocese.

I congratulate all of those in this parish who are involved in Scouting and thank you for your hard work.

We look forward to the local awards that will be given out this Sunday at the Scout's Blue and Gold Banquet. We also look forward to the following Sunday when our parish Scouts will help host the Donut Sunday. We will have an opportunity to specially honor them at that time.

February 18

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the season of Lent. This is a season that is traditionally marked by the three spiritual practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

I encourage each Catholic to devote more time to prayer during this season. Daily Mass is an excellent way to enter more deeply into the spirit of the Lenten season. Please also join us for adoration on Wednesdays from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm, or on Fridays from 3:00 pm until Stations are celebrated at 7:00 pm.

I encourage each Catholic to consider the Lenten fast. Every Catholic beginning at age 14 must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent. Each Catholic from age 18 to 59 must fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Furthermore, I encourage everyone to consider a reasonable and fitting penance or sacrifice during the Lenten season. Our penance and fasting should lead us to appreciate the sufferings of Christ and draw us into closer union with God.

I encourage each Catholic to consider almsgiving. During Lent, we take up collections for Eastern Europe on Ash Wednesday, the Bishop's Overseas Appeal on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, and the Holy Land on Good Friday. Almsgiving can also include giving of our time or talent to help those who are in special need.

May God bless us during this forty day journey to Easter.

February 11

In 2006, Roger Seghetti resigned at the end of his term as a parish trustee. After prayerfully considering the nomination of a new trustee, I chose to nominate Thomas Duncan to take on this responsibility. I am pleased to announce to the parish that Tom has been appointed as a trustee of St. Vincent de Paul Parish by Bishop Jenky. Tom joins Nancy Scurry as our two current parish trustees. I would also like to publicly thank Roger for his generous service to the parish as outgoing trustee.

I have asked some of our parishioners to assist me in planning for needed improvements and additions to our parish and school. I am grateful to Ray Perisin and Mike Seghetti for accepting my invitation to co-chair a construction sub-committee. Ray and Mike are helping me review the report on our current facilities and the development of our long term plan. I am also grateful to Kati Faletti and Jeff Bonick for accepting my invitation to co-chair a fundraising sub-committee. Kati and Jeff are helping me review the feasibility study performed last summer and the qualifications of firms that might help us raise the needed funds for a future project.

I have been very impressed and most grateful for the supportive feedback I have received from many, many parishioners over the past few months. St. Vincent's has many parishioners who are willing to share their expertise or their enthusiasm. I am inspired by the responsiveness I have experienced from so many generous parishioners.

February 3

In 1993, Msgr. Livingston began the St. Vincent de Paul School Endowment. This endowment could not have begun without the generous and inspired help of some hard-working parishioners who laid the groundwork for this fund. The initial endowment began with an anonymous donation of $25,000. The endowment has been more aggressively promoted over the years. Contributions to the endowment and the return on its investments have steadily increased. It was decided that no withdrawals would be taken from the endowment until it reached a goal of one million dollars.

It is now my great pleasure to announce that this goal has been reached and surpassed. The school endowment currently has over $1,227,000. In looking back, it is amazing that this fund has grown so dramatically in the past fourteen years. This is due to sound investment of these assets, regular memorial gifts, and generous contributions from our parishioners. Congratulations to everyone who played a part in this success!

With the help of the parish finance council, we have developed policies for this endowment. The funds are invested through the diocese in a diversified and conservative mix of fixed interest investments, bonds, and stable market funds. Up to 5% of the fund's balance will be drawn off each year to provide tuition assistance according to need. Those who wish to receive assistance must demonstrate their financial need by completing a PSAS form.

Up to now, the parish has had to find the funds to provide tuition assistance from our operating budget. I am pleased to announce that this endowment will provide a stable and enduring source of funding for those families who need support in providing a Catholic education for their children.

Congratulations, St. Vincent de Paul Parish!

Other announcements:

We have received information about the date of Confirmation for our current seventh grade students. They will be confirmed by Bishop Jenky at St. Vincent de Paul Parish on Tuesday, October 30, 2007. This is an important celebration for the parish, as our church was first dedicated by Bishop O'Rourke on October 30, 1977. Therefore, we will not only be celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation, but also the 30th anniversary of our parish church.

I have asked the lectors at daily Mass to proclaim the Scripture readings from the main pulpit. This is in keeping with the requirements of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM, 58). In parish churches, there is generally one altar on which the Eucharist is offered, and similarly one pulpit from which the Scriptures are proclaimed. The pulpit provides a suitable and worthy place to announce the Sacred Word of God (GIRM, 309).

January 28

Our second grade CCD students made their first confession in December and our second graders at the parish grade school made their first confession in January. We now enter into a special time of preparation as they look forward to First Communion. One of these students is invited to bring up the gifts with his or her family at every weekend Mass at the parish leading up to their First Communion. They will also be mentioned in the intercessions. Please pray for these children as they prepare for this important step in their journey of faith.

We often pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, but I would also like to encourage vocations to the diaconate. A class of permanent deacons will be ordained this May and a new class will be forming in the fall of this year. A man who commits himself to preparation for the diaconate meets with the other deacon candidates one weekend a month over five years before ordination. I pray for vocations to the diaconate and encourage the men of the parish to consider if God is calling them to this special role of service for the Church.

January 21

In December, I appeared before the Diocesan Building Commission to inform them of the status of the assessment of our school and parish buildings. I also informed them of the work done to develop building plans for the future. This presentation before the Diocesan Building Commission is an obligatory prelude to any parish building project.

I presented the preliminary findings of our building study which revealed some desirable improvements to our existing school building, including our interior lighting, ventilation, electrical and technological upgrades. Many of these improvements require asbestos removal to be a first priority. The preliminary study also included the potential development of new space, including a larger gymnasium with a stage area suitable for athletics, school assemblies, and seasonal concerts.

I believe that it is important to address the needs of our existing buildings in conjunction with the construction of new space. I also believe that it is important to consider the academic, athletic, and extra-curricular needs of our school, as well as the needs of our entire parish.

At the beginning of January, I received the report of the Diocesan Building Commission which gave a positive recommendation to the Bishop regarding this project. They recommended proceeding with the careful study and development of these plans.

January 14

A few months ago with the help of the parish finance council, I have recently asked an outside professional to help me assess the needs of our school and other buildings. I have asked some parishioners to assist me in reviewing this assessment. I have also asked these parishioners to help me in developing a long range plan.

In the coming weeks, I will look for ways in which to brief the parish on the results of this study and I will be seeking input from additional parishioners. Our goal in this process is to determine how to best strengthen St. Vincent de Paul parish and school for many years to come.

January 7

After the feast of the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord, we leave the Christmas Season and return to Ordinary Time. I would like to thank everyone who made Christmas such a special time at St. Vincent's. I am very grateful to all who are able to assist with taking down the Christmas decorations on Monday, January 8th at 6:00 pm.

Following all the activity of Advent and Christmas, I will be taking some time off for vacation. I am grateful to Fr. Don for his hard work while I am away. I look forward to returning rested and rejuvenated in a week. I welcome all the students back from Christmas break. After their break, I trust that they are ready to work hard during the spring semester.

Read previous entries from 2006.