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The Pastor's Column (Archive 2008)

Msgr. Gray's Column in the Parish Bulletin

December 28, 2008

During this octave of Christmas, may we continue to celebrate with joy the birth of our Lord.

Please be aware of the Holy Day of Obligation this week: Mary, Mother of God on January 1st. Additional Masses will be offered on New Year's Eve and on New Year's Day to fulfill this obligation.

Now that the parish offices are located in the church building, I hope to make some changes to improve the look of our foyer. You may notice that a bookrack and a pamphlet rack have been added to better organize our spiritual reading material and parish forms. These additions should make these materials more accessible.

December 21, 2008

On behalf of all the staff at St. Vincent de Paul Parish and School, I wish a very merry Christmas to every parishioner, your families, and your friends. May Our Lord and Savior be with you during these holy days.

We have added additional vigil lights for the Blessed Mother in the church. This was made possible with the help of donations that paid for a portion of this expense. The cost for these candles is the same as the candles in the foyer of the church. Let us honor Mary, the mother of our newborn Lord during this Christmas season.

December 14, 2008

The third Sunday of Advent is named Gaudete Sunday, meaning rejoice! It is fitting that we rejoice as a parish at this important moment in our history.

With the dedication of our parish and school facilities, we have much to be thankful for. I would like express my deep gratitude for all the help, encouragement, and support I have received from this parish over the past several months. The list of persons to thank is far too great to list them here. To each of you, I say, Thank You. You have each played an important role, great or small, in this momentous work of renewing our parish.

May God bless each of you in this Advent Season and grant you every good gift as we celebrate the birth of Our Savior.

December 7, 2008

This weekend we will have our open house in our parish offices. While we still have a few improvements to complete, the parish office is now operating from its new location in the church. Stop by on Sunday after the noon Mass to see the facility. Next week we look forward to the dedication of the school building. Please join us at the noon Mass as Bishop Jenky comes to bless our completed project.

Our parish is blessed to have many volunteers who help provide a funeral luncheon in the parish hall after a funeral Mass. This is a much appreciated charitable service for families who would find it difficult to prepare a meal at a time of loss. In order to continue this service, I need your help. We need additional volunteers who are willing to prepare a dish for a funeral luncheon, and a coordinator to call the volunteers for the luncheon. If you are interested in helping, please contact the parish office. There are volunteer forms in the back of the church that you may also use.

November 30, 2008

We are one week away from our parish office open house and two weeks away from our formal dedication of our building project.

Next week we will cancel our normal Donut Sunday in favor of the open house for the parish office. Please visit the office space attached to the church on Saturday, December 6th from 2 to 4 pm or on Sunday, December 7th after the noon Mass until 3 pm. Refreshments will be served.

There are still some spaces for our Dedication Banquet Saturday evening, December 13th. If you are interested in attending, please contact the parish office. All are welcome for the Solemn Mass of Dedication on Sunday, December 14th at noon. Bishop Jenky will be with us for the Mass and the dedication to follow. Refreshments will be served in the parish hall afterwards.

November 23, 2008

As the end of our construction draws near, I have additional information to share with you. We will have an open house for the new parish offices on December 6th and 7th. On Saturday, December 6th, tours through the offices will be available from 2 pm to 4 pm. On Sunday, December 7th, tours will be available after the noon Mass until 2 pm. As soon as we move into this new space, the parish office will be open weekdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

We have received many reservations already for the dedication dinner on the night of Saturday, December 13th. If you would like to attend, please send your RSVP to the parish as soon as possible. Whether or not you can attend the dinner on Saturday, please plan to attend the dedication Mass on Sunday, December 14th. Bishop Jenky will be with us at the noon Mass and for the dedication and reception that will follow. This event is free and open to anyone who is interested. The entire school building will be open providing the opportunity for every parishioner to see all the work that has been done since last spring.

November 16, 2008

I have some exciting updates about our construction progress. I expect the parish office construction to be completed within the next week. We will take some time to move our parish office to the new space during Thanksgiving week, and we will open the new office the week after Thanksgiving. I will provide more information about an upcoming open house so everyone can have a chance to see this new facility.

The school addition is progressing well and is now in the final five weeks of construction. We look forward to dedicating these facilities with Bishop Jenky on Sunday, December 14th after the noon Mass. We also look forward to the Christmas concert on December 15th.

To celebrate this significant event, we will have a dedication banquet in the parish hall on Saturday evening, December 13th. Those who wish to attend must purchase tickets for this formal dinner in advance. If you are interested in coming to celebrate this milestone in our parish history, please contact the rectory to reserve your place.

November 9, 2008

Congratulations to all our students who were confirmed on Wednesday. May the graces of the Holy Spirit guide them now and always.

Our server robes have been in need of replacement. The new vestments have arrived and the servers will begin wearing their new cassocks and acolyte albs. I remind the servers that they must now observe the requirements for footwear in order to serve.

During the month of November, we remember all the faithful departed. The Book of the Dead has been placed in the gathering space of the church. Parishioners are invited to inscribe the names of the departed in this book. We pray for all your deceased family and friends during this month.

November 2, 2008

Election day is this week. Please be aware that St. Vincent de Paul Parish does not support nor oppose any individual candidate or any political party. Our parish register is used by our offices for parish and school business only and is not distributed to any outside parties.

There are many important issues that challenge us today. I encourage each of you to make an informed and prayerful decision, and then to vote on election day. As Catholics, we recognize that we have a part to play in shaping the world around us and standing up for our moral values. May the Lord bless our families, our community, and our country, and help us always to serve Him.

October 26, 2008

Next Sunday is November 2nd, the commemoration of All Souls. All Souls day is a good day to make a visit to a cemetery to pray for loved ones who have gone before us.

Bishop Jenky has written a pastoral letter this year focusing our attention on the Christian understanding of death. His pastoral letter can be seen at the diocesan website, www.cdop.org. Follow the links from "About CDOP" to "The Bishop" and then to "The Bishop's Letters." You will find his 2008 festival letter on this page.

Our faith teaches us to prepare for our death with hope in the salvation that we know in Jesus Christ. Our faith also teaches us that our bodies will be raised up on the last day in the resurrection of the dead. Therefore, we are encouraged to make plans upon our death for a funeral Mass with the body present rather than choosing cremation. We are encouraged to make plans to be buried in a Catholic cemetery in consecrated ground. We are encouraged to remember the Church in our will and to offer Masses for the departed. May the Lord help us prepare to meet Him face to face.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine on them. Amen.

October 19, 2008

October is Right to Life month. Each of us is made in the image and likeness of God. Each one of us is loved perfectly by God and is dear to him. We know that the intentional destruction of innocent human life is always a grave moral evil.

It is important that each of us works to support a greater respect for human life by our words, our actions, and our daily prayers. With the help of the pro-life volunteers in our parish, some additional pamphlets have been provided in the back of the church. These materials give us an opportunity to become more informed of our Church's social teaching, especially in the complex area of medical ethics. May the Holy Spirit help each of us to appreciate ever more the precious gift of human life.

October 12, 2008

Two weeks ago, I spoke about the importance of making our participation in Sunday Mass our top priority. I want to thank each of you for your response to this challenge. I received many encouraging words and positive comments. Our parish has very positive signs of our strong faith, and I appreciate every effort to strengthen that faith.

We have a very large class in our RCIA program this year. God willing, we look forward to receiving perhaps a dozen people into the Church at Easter. If you know of anyone else who is interested in participating in our RCIA classes, please encourage them to contact the rectory. It is not too late to join our program. We also have a few adults who will be confirmed at our parish confirmation on November 5th. Any unconfirmed adults can still contact the rectory to plan to receive this sacrament.

October 5, 2008

Bishop Jenky will be with us for our formal dedication of our building project on December 14th. Therefore, he has asked Monsignor Paul Showalter to celebrate the sacrament of confirmation for our parish on November 5th. Our students are in the final month of their preparations. I ask you to keep them in your prayers.

This is also a good opportunity for any adults who have not been confirmed to come forward to receive this important sacrament and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If you are a Catholic adult who has not been confirmed, please call the rectory. Any adults to be confirmed will receive some brief instruction regarding the sacrament.

September 28, 2008

As our building project continues, we have pieces of construction equipment and supplies that are delivered and stored on parts of our property. Some of this equipment takes up a portion of our parking lot, making some parking spaces unusable. The steel at the south end of the lot has been set on the school addition, giving us some additional breathing room. When the project is complete, we will have approximately a dozen additional parking spaces.

During this time, it is important to maintain a Christian attitude in the parking lot. As you know, the lot fills up at some of our busiest Masses. Please remember to be careful and treat others with respect when you arrive and when you leave. Parking illegally can put your vehicle and others at risk. When the main lot is full, I thank you for taking the extra time to park safely in the north lot where there are extra spaces available.

September 21, 2008

Part of our construction project has been to provide additional storm water drainage. Although some of this work has been done, some of it is yet to be completed. Last weekend we had an immense amount of rain and had some difficulty with water collecting at the south end of the parking lot and with some water in the school basement. These issues will be addressed as our construction continues.

Next weekend, I will report to the parish about our parish finances. I will also take the opportunity to call attention to the importance of arriving on time for Mass and remaining until the Mass has ended. I will remind us that it is not acceptable to leave Mass early except in case of emergency. I mention this issue in advance as I plan to speak about this issue next week in a direct way.

September 14, 2008

On September 28th, I will present the financial report for the previous year to the parish at large. The annual report is an important part of my responsibility to keep the parish informed of its financial health.

When I make this presentation, I will also address another issue that I believe requires attention. It has unfortunately become all too frequent to find people arriving late for Sunday Mass and leaving early after Communion. Mass begins at the entrance procession when the celebrant walks in and it ends at the recessional procession when the celebrant walks out. I will speak about the need to not only show respect for the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, but also for the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

I have experienced the ways in which the parishioners at St. Vincent de Paul are devoted to their parish and also devoted to their faith. It is my hope to strengthen this devotion and bring an end to any bad habits that lessen this devotion.

September 7, 2008

The school year in underway, the teachers have moved in, and the students have begun their fall classes. Our school building has come a long way since all the furniture was boxed up in May and demolition work began in June. A lot of hard work brought us to August as the desks reappeared, the classrooms were set up, and the school building was opened for students.

This weekend we will have an open house in the school building to give the entire parish a tour of the renovation work that has been done this summer. This parish carnival and open house will take place on Sunday from 1 to 3pm. Please come to walk through the building. Food and beverages will be provided in the Parish Hall. Games and activities will be available for the younger children.

As the renovation work is completed, we now turn our focus back to the construction of the parish office space to be completed in late October and the school addition to be completed in December.

August 31, 2008

We welcome all the students and teachers back to school and CCD. Next weekend, we will have a parish-wide open house on September 7th. Please join us for our fall social and open house.

Many of you participated in the Jeff Cavins Great Adventure Bible Timeline last year. We are now pleased to host the Adventures in Matthew program as a study of the Gospel of Matthew. Even if you didn't participate in the Bible Timeline, please consider participating in the Adventures in Matthew program. Those interested will meet on Thursday evenings at 7:00 pm beginning on September 11. The entire program consists of twenty-four hour long presentations. These meetings will begin in the parish hall. More information will appear in the coming bulletins.

August 24, 2008

We are now one week away from the beginning of the school year at our parish grade school. Most of our recent construction efforts have focused on the renovation of the existing school which is near completion. After the renovation is complete, our attention will turn back to the parish offices and the school addition.

I express my profound thanks to each parishioner for your support of St. Vincent de Paul Parish and School and your contributions to our capital campaign. You have made this possible. I look forward to the open house events in September in which the parish can see the fruits of this labor.

As the new school year begins, we will move our 8:00 am daily Mass back by 15 minutes to reflect the earlier start time for our school day. Thank you for your attention to these changes in our schedule.

August 17, 2008

This weekend, we bid farewell to two seminarians returning to school. Delphinus Matajuka has been with us for the summer and goes to his first year of theology at the Josephinum Seminary in Columbus. Kris Engelsen is a parishioner at St. Vincent's who will begin his seminary studies at Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. We offer them both our prayers and best wishes.

As we look forward to the first day of school on the day after Labor Day, we also look forward to the social/open house that we will have on Sunday, September 7th. For this open house, we will serve refreshments in the parish hall and open the doors of the newly renovated school building from 1 to 3 P.M.

I ask the parish for volunteer help with this celebration. We ordinarily have this social after school has been back in session for several weeks, given ample time to find the volunteers to staff this social. Because school will have only been in session for a week, I ask for volunteers to come forward now. Volunteers are needed to help set up and clean up, to serve refreshments, and to run the children's games. If you can help for a few hours on September 7th, please call the rectory or the school office, or contact the women's guild or men's club presidents.

August 10, 2008

There are several items to bring to your attention this week.

  • Please make plans to attend one of the Masses for the Holy Day of the Assumption this week.

  • I ask for your help with our RCIA program. Do you know anyone who should consider joining the Catholic Church? Classes begin in September, but now is the time to ask your friends or family members who might consider becoming Catholic.

  • I ask for your help with our CCD program. We are in need of a few volunteers to help teach our CCD students. Our DRE will provide resources and guidance. We need you to provide a willingness to teach and an enthusiasm for the faith. If you are interested in helping with CCD, please call the rectory office.

  • Finally, we say farewell to Joel Phelps who leaves this week and prepares to return to St. Louis to continue his seminary formation. We will say farewell to Delphinus Matajuka and Kris Engelsen next weekend.

August 3, 2008

This summer we began a special year dedicated by our Holy Father to St. Paul. As part of this Pauline year, it is good for us to become more familiar with the letters of St. Paul found in the New Testament as well as the importance of St. Paul to the Church.

To help us enter more into St. Paul's life and theology, I will present a three part study of the letter to the Galatians, beginning Thursday, August 21st at 7:00 pm in the Parish Hall. The study will continue for the next two Thursdays. We will cover two chapters at each session. I recommend reading Galatians 1-2 before the first session. All are welcome to come. Please bring a bible.

July 27, 2008

This weekend we had an opportunity to hear a little about FOCUS missionaries. The young men and women who participate in FOCUS volunteer to evangelize on college campuses at a crucial time in the faith development of our college age students. The FOCUS missionary who spoke to us this weekend is Jenny Witt, an alumna of St. Vincent de Paul Grade School. Let us remember all these volunteers especially in our prayers.

If you have a son or daughter who is going to college this fall, I encourage you to help them find out about the Newman Centers or Catholic campus ministry programs offered at their college. Our young adults who move away to go to college have to take personal responsibility for the practice of their faith. Let us do our part to help them find good Catholic programs that can help them stay in touch with their faith. If you have questions about Newman centers at any college or university, please contact myself or Fr. Schultz.

July 20, 2008

I am very happy to announce to the parish that one of our parishioners has been accepted as a seminarian for the Diocese of Peoria. Kris Engelsen has recently served as our 8th grade CCD teacher and will be going to Mount Saint Mary's Seminary in Maryland beginning in the fall. Many of you remember Msgr. Rohlfs who is currently the rector of Mount Saint Mary's Seminary. Let us keep Kris in our prayers as he begins his studies for the priesthood.

Our building project has continued to move forward at an accelerated pace as we make preparations for our students to begin the school year on the day after Labor Day. Although children rarely look forward to the first day of school, I hope there will be a special excitement as they look forward to seeing the renewed facilities in our school.

I have asked for Bishop Jenky to come to St. Vincent de dedicate our facilities. The dedication will be around the time of the Christmas concert. I will be asking for volunteers to help plan the many details that are involved in our celebrations this fall leading up to the dedication of the facilities. If you would like to volunteer to help with these efforts, please contact the rectory.

July 13, 2008

As we approach our midpoint of the summer, there has been much progress on our construction project. We look forward to celebrating the completion of our school renovation in early September, our new parish offices in October, and the dedication of the new school facilities in December. If you would like to see photos of the construction, go to www.jgray.org/svdp.

However, we look forward to more than physical improvements at our school in the fall. As you already know, the school will add fifteen minutes to the beginning of the school day to provide more instructional time for our students. This extra time will be especially helpful to our departmentalized middle school program. Not only will our 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students have individual teachers for all their academic subjects, including religion, but Mr. Birdoes has recently hired a full time teacher to teach Spanish. We look forward to introducing Spanish into our middle school student's regular schedule.

July 6, 2008

Last week, I included a short autopigraphy for Delphinus Matajuka. This week, I have included a short autobiography for our other seminarian, Joel Phelps:

I am a seminarian for the Diocese of Peoria, and will be entering my second year of theology school, which means that, God willing, my anticipated date of priestly ordination is 2011. I am doing my theology studies at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, even though I am a Cubs fan. I completed my college seminary at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, MN, and before that attended the University of Illinois for two years. I majored in accounting. It was my time at the Newman Center at the U of I in Champaign that I really came to discern my vocation. My home town is Monticello, IL (about 20 miles west of Champaign). My parents are Pat and Alane Phelps, and I have two younger brothers named Scott and Neal, both of whom also attend the U of I (as a junior and a freshman). I will be at St. Vincent's until mid-August, and look forward to getting to know you!

Joel Phelps

June 29, 2008

We have two seminarians with us this summer, Joel Phelps and Delphinus Matajuka. The following is a short autobiography for Delphinus, so we can get to know him better during his summer assignment at St. Vincent's:

I am Delphinus Mutajuka. I am from Arusha City, Tanzania, East Africa. I am 25 years old; I am the third born in the family. I have two older brothers and one younger sister. Both my parents are deceased. My dad passed away in 2003 and my mom in 2005, both of typhoid fever. I have been in a religious community for 10 years. I was in minor seminary at Uru Seminary in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania for six years for both Ordinary and Advanced levels (equivalent to high school and college in the United States). After that I went to major seminary in Nairobi, Kenya for philosophy and religious studies, and graduated in May 2007. I then decided to apply to join the Peoria Diocese, and was lucky enough to be granted the opportunity. I had to spend one year for orientation to learn much about American English and culture, and took an English course at Illinois State University while staying at the Newman center there. Now I am looking forward to starting theology studies this fall at the Josephinum theology school in Columbus, Ohio. My favorite hobbies are soccer, golf, basketball, and baseball. In my free time I enjoy playing soccer, golf, or ping pong, without forgetting to watch Cubs games, since I'm a typical Cubs fan.

Delphinus Mutajuka

June 22, 2008

It was a great joy for St. Vincent de Paul Parish to host the Catechetical Institute last weekend. As part of the Catechetical Institute, we had several world-class speakers who spoke to us about Sacred Scripture, the renewal of the Church in Russia, and the impact of Pope John Paul II.

During the Institute, I gave a presentation on finding the structure of passages of Scripture. Identifying this structure can give insight into the mind of the author and lead to greater understanding of the spiritual meanings in the Bible. I will be happy to give this presentation again for the parish at large. On Wednesday, July 2nd, at 7:00 pm in the parish hall, I will give this presentation for anyone who is interested. All are welcome. The presentation should last about one hour.

June 15, 2008

On this Father's Day weekend, I salute all the fathers in the parish. It is good for us to thank our fathers for all they have done for us. Let us also pray for them that they may be examples of virtue to us all.

We also congratulate and welcome a new father: Fr. Dustin Schultz, the new parochial vicar at St. Vincent de Paul. He was ordained three weeks ago and we look forward to getting to know him in the years ahead. We also welcome Joel Phelps and Delphinus Matajuka, two seminarians have been assigned to our parish for the summer. Joel and Delphinus will be around for most of the summer, though they will have duties at the Emmaus Days retreats and the other seminarian functions.

Please remember our new priest and all our seminarians in your prayers as we pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life!

June 8, 2008

This weekend, we bid farewell to Fr. Don Roszkowski who has been with us for a little less than two years. He will be assigned as pastor of St. Mary's Parish of Metamora. Let us remember him in our prayers as he takes on this new and important assignment.

After each of the Masses this weekend, we will have a farewell celebration in the gathering area of the church or in the parish hall. Your own personal notes of congratulation or thanksgiving are welcome. During his time here, he has done much to promote adult education, scripture study, and spiritual devotions. We will miss his dedication, his preaching, and his enthusiasm that he has shared with our parish since his arrival.

Next weekend, we will have the opportunity to greet Fr. Dustin Schultz as he begins his assignment as our new parochial vicar.

What is required to serve on the Parish Pastoral Council?

I have asked those who volunteer to serve on a parish pastoral council to commit themselves to two things:

First, I ask each member to volunteer at least 20 hours per year on projects recommended by the council. I believe it is important to have council members ready to volunteer because I want the pastoral council to take an active part in making our initiatives successful. A person might choose to volunteer to run a Great Adventure Bible series session, to sit at a welcome table for new parishioners on a Donut Sunday, or to help with activities at a summer Vacation Bible School.

Second, I ask each member to participate in 5 hours of adult education per year to grow in the faith and knowledge of Church teaching. I believe it is important to have council members who are personally committed to learning more about the faith that they want to share with the parish. A person might participate in a bible study, a retreat day (such as the Women's Retreat Day), or one of our diocesan workshops. The Diocese offers a number of opportunities through the Summer Catechetical Institute (June 13-14 this year at St. Vincent's) or other events such as the Pastoral Care Day of Reflection.

If you are interested in participating in a parish pastoral council, please turn in one of the interest forms in the back of the church.

June 1, 2008

We will bid farewell to Fr. Don next weekend after Masses on June 7th and 8th. There will be a larger reception for Fr. Don in the parish hall after the 4:30 pm Mass on Saturday and the 9:00 and 10:30 am Masses on Sunday. There will be more informal receptions for Fr. Don in the gathering space of the church after the 7:30 pm Mass on Saturday and the 7:30 am and 12:00 pm Masses on Sunday.

On a separate note, I have recently mailed out pledge cards for the Annual Diocesan Appeal to those households that had not returned their pledge card. I appreciate your efforts to return your pledge card. I also appreciate your generosity in supporting the works of our diocese. We have received pledges of about $50,000 so far bringing us halfway to our goal. Your generosity will help us to meet our goal.

What is a Parish Pastoral Council?

A parish pastoral council is separate from our parish finance council and school education commission. The finance council makes recommendations regarding our parish and school finances. The education commission makes recommendations regarding the effectiveness of our parochial grade school. A pastoral council makes recommendations regarding our pastoral effectiveness to our parish community.

A pastoral council is a consultative body made up of parish members. The pastoral council makes recommendations to the pastor regarding any aspect of pastoral ministry. The precise duties of the pastoral council are to be enumerated in its statutes.

I anticipate that our pastoral council may meet quarterly to review our planned initiatives. However, in order to get started, a provisional pastoral council will need to meet a few times over the summer to work out the details of the council.

If you would like to participate, please complete an interest form and return it in the collection or to the parish office.

May 25, 2008

This weekend, six new priests were ordained for our diocese. Bishop Jenky has announced that one of these men, Father Dustin Schultz, will be assigned as parochial vicar to our parish. We look forward to his arrival as he begins his duties on June 11th.

Father Schultz will take Father Don's place as he becomes the pastor in Metamora. We will have a farewell for Father Don after each Mass on the weekend of June 7th and 8th.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned my interest in beginning a parish pastoral council or a spiritual council to help focus our efforts to promote our faith life in this parish. I have placed interest forms in the back of the church. Anyone who is interested in volunteering for this council is invited to fill out a form and return it to the parish office.

I anticipate that this council will make recommendations in the following areas: programs for adult education and faith formation, activities for the youth including vacation bible school, activities for seniors, outreach to new parishioners, religious vocations development, and spiritual preparations for the 50th anniversary of the parish.

May 18, 2008

Congratulations to all our students graduating this year!

Our parish Education Commission recently voted to recommend to me that that our parochial school day be lengthened by fifteen minutes. I am happy to accept this recommendation, as I believe that increasing the quantity of educational time we spend with our students will improve the quality of their education.

This increase in our school day will allow us to introduce regular foreign language classes into our middle school schedule without compromising our other subjects. More information will be available after our principal finishes interviewing the applicants for this new full time foreign language position. Next year, our coordinator of religious education will teach the religion classes for our middle school students. She holds an advanced degree in theology and will be a great asset to our student's religious instruction. These changes are part of an overall revision to fully departmentalize our middle school program. We will have one certified teacher for each subject in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade.

If you would like more information about sending your children to our parish grade school, please contact our parish or school office. We offer scholarships to families based on financial need.

Beginning the school day fifteen minutes earlier affects one other part of our schedule: our 8:00 a.m. daily Mass. We currently have many students and faculty who come to daily Mass before school begins. I would not want our schedules to make attending Mass difficult for those who seek a Catholic education or who teach in our Catholic schools. Therefore, I am considering moving the 8:00 a.m. Mass to 7:45 a.m. beginning in September. More information will be available at the end of the summer.

May 11, 2008

First of all, let us congratulate Fr. Don on his upcoming appointment as pastor of St. Mary's Parish, Metamora and St. Elizabeth, Washburn! I offer my personal thanks to Fr. Don for coming to St. Vincent to help us in a time of need. In his eleven years of priesthood, he has twice before served as pastor. After serving this parish as an assistant pastor for a little less than two years, Fr. Don will bring his experience and his gifts to serve the people of Metamora as pastor.

Before Fr. Don assumes his duties in his new parish, we will express our gratitude to Fr. Don after the weekend Masses June 7th and 8th. Fr. Don will be available to greet the parishioners as we have the opportunity to formally wish him a fond farewell.

Please note that you are all invited to listen to world-renowned author George Weigel, as he speaks about the importance of Pope John Paul II. George Weigel will present a tribute on Friday, June 13th at 7:00 pm at St. Vincent de Paul Church. This presentation is free and open to the public. In addition to this presentation, there are many excellent speakers, including Jeff Cavins and Dr. Timothy Gray, who will be presenting at the 2008 Summer Institute hosted here at St. Vincent's. For more information, please call the parish or visit the Summer Institute link at www.cdop.org.

May 4, 2008

Congratulations to all those making their first Holy Communion. It is a great joy to welcome a new group of young people to receive the Eucharist. Seeing their simple piety and excitement in receiving Jesus is a reminder to us all of the importance of the Eucharist in our life of faith.

I recently received a request from the director of South Side Mission for help with their outreach to the poor. The South Side Mission provides a food pantry for those who are in need throughout Peoria. They have been running short of supplies to meet the needs of those seeking help.

St. Vincent de Paul Parish has continued to support St. Bernard's Food Pantry over the years. Your contributions of food and donations have served that food pantry well. However, to meet the needs of South Side Mission, I have invited them to conduct a short-term food drive during the last two weeks of May. I appreciate any non-perishable food donations you make to help with this one-time appeal for South Side Mission.

April 28, 2008

Thank you for considering a pledge to support the works of our diocese through the Annual Diocesan Appeal. I kindly ask each parishioner to consider a pledge and return the Annual Diocesan Appeal pledge card in the enclosed envelope in the collection in the next two weeks. I am very grateful for the generosity shown by the parishioners to St. Vincent de Paul to both our parish capital campaign and this important diocesan appeal.

Many parishioners have sent in their subscription to the Catholic Post, our diocesan newspaper. The Catholic Post does an excellent job of providing news and information about the Church in our local community. A subscription is a helpful way to stay connected with the important events in our region.

In addition to those who turned in their regular subscription to the Post, I have placed the names of many other parishioners on a monthly subscription list by which one issue of the Catholic Post will be sent out each month. This monthly service is only a sample of what you would receive from a full weekly subscription. If you do not receive the Catholic Post, or if you would like to upgrade to the regular weekly edition, please contact the parish office.

April 21, 2008

This weekend we reflected on the importance of the Mass in our spiritual life as Catholics. Our participation at Mass is our weekly opportunity to spend time with Jesus Christ, our Savior. It is good for each of us to make this time with Our Lord the best that it can be. Thank you in advance for your dedication to the Eucharist and your good witness as Catholics.

Next weekend, parishes across the diocese will conduct the Annual Diocesan Appeal. We will spend time next week considering the ways in which we practice our faith as a family, as a parish, and also as a diocese. The diocesan offices and programs that benefit people throughout our region depend on your support to be successful. I know that many of you have been extremely generous to our parish Renewing All Things in Christ campaign. I thank you for your consideration of this important diocesan appeal.

April 14, 2008

Next weekend, I will preach at the Masses regarding our commitment to Mass and our etiquette at Mass. I will address the importance of being on time for Mass and remaining until the end. I will speak about being courteous and showing the importance of the Mass by the way we dress. I will also speak about participating fully in the Mass by taking a seat in a pew, making the responses, and singing with the congregation.

I mention this in order to encourage each parishioner to make a special effort to be on time and to be prepared to participate fully next weekend.

It is good for each of us to be challenged, from time to time, so that we recognize the importance of our faith. It is good for us to be challenged to take our practice of the faith seriously. I look forward to next weekend as an opportunity for each of us to renew our commitment to give our best back to God who has given so much to us.

April 7, 2008

I wish everyone a happy Easter Season. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who assisted with flowers and decorations for Holy Week and Easter. Many parishioners put in a lot of hard work to make the church beautiful for these special holy days. I am also grateful to our choirs and all those who assisted by reading or serving with these Masses.

As you can tell, we are underway with our building project. I thank you in advance for your patience as parts of our facility are renovated and improved.

I ask for your help in keeping the church beautiful and in good order. There is a lost and found area in the church between the restrooms and the sacristy. This area has accumulated a large number of personal belongings, objects, dishes, vases, clothing, and other assorted objects including desks. If you have left any belonging behind in the church, please claim them. Unclaimed objects will be cleared out in a few weeks.

March 23, 2008

Rejoice! The Lord is Risen! May the blessings of our Easter Season be with you and your families. I wish all our students a safe and happy Easter vacation.

I offer a special welcome home to all our alumni from St. Vincent de Paul School. Our Alumni Association has found approximately 20% of the 2380 alumni that have graduated from St. Vincent de Paul since the school opened in 1962. While we have many alumni still living in this area, we have alumni living in 31 states throughout our country. St. Vincent's alumni are now living from California to New Hampshire, from Florida to Washington, and even Hawaii. We also have alumni living abroad in Canada and China.

We will soon be looking for alumni from each graduating class to serve as class representatives who will help us find the other members of their graduating class. These efforts will prepare for the dedication of our new facilities late in the year. Our alumni will receive a special invitation and to this historic event where they will be recognized.

March 16, 2008

This weekend we celebrate a major milestone in the history of this parish. After several years of hard work studying our facilities and our needs, and after successfully raising over 95% of the necessary funds, we are now breaking ground for our Renewing All Things in Christ project. Today we enter our construction phase which will reach its conclusion in approximately nine months when we will look forward to dedicating these new and renewed facilities. I ask those who have not done so to return their pledge cards promptly. Thank you for your pledges and donations.

Please note our schedule for Holy Week in the bulletin. The liturgies for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil are inspiring and are only celebrated one time each year. Lent comes to a spiritual conclusion with these important liturgies of the Triduum. Complete your Lenten devotions by joining us for these celebrations.

I would like to inform the parish that I will have a new position in the Tribunal in April. Msgr. Richard Soseman will leave his position as judicial vicar to serve in Rome. On his departure, I will move from adjutant judicial vicar to judicial vicar. My duties as judicial vicar are similar to those I have had as adjutant judicial vicar. There are only a few actions in a tribunal that are required by canon law to be performed by priests. Most tribunal work is done by the full-time lay and religious employees. To fulfill my responsibilities, I spend a few hours working in the tribunal each month.

March 9, 2008

Palm Sunday begins Holy Week. Please make plans to attend the special Masses during Holy Week that celebrate the central mysteries of our faith. Please come to the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday to celebrate the institution of the Eucharist. Please come to the Liturgy of the Passion on Good Friday to commemorate our Lord's Crucifixion. Please join us at the Easter Vigil as we honor Our Lord's Resurrection, bless the new Easter Candle, and welcome our new Catholics into the Church.

Our project to Renew All Things in Christ will take an important step next weekend with our groundbreaking. The ceremonial groundbreaking will take place at approximately 1:00 pm and will follow the 12:00 pm Palm Sunday Mass. I highly encourage each of you to come to the noon Mass on Palm Sunday to share in this historic event in the life of the parish.

I am happy to inform you that the parish has acquired two properties that adjoin our property. The parish now owns the two parcels on the east side of the field. In the coming months, our building project will cut into a part of our open field space. The two new parcels will provide the future possibility of adding to our field space. I would like to express my gratitude to the parish finance council for their guidance in this transaction.

Solemn Palm Sunday Mass - 12:00 pm
Groundbreaking with Bishop Jenky- 1:00 pm

  • Some changes have been made so our noon Mass will be the more solemn Mass for Palm Sunday. The solemn procession for the blessing of the palms will be celebrated at the noon Mass.
  • Parishioners are invited to gather in front of the parish hall at noon for the blessing of palm branches. We will then process to the church for the Mass of Palm Sunday.
  • Following the noon Mass, we will process from the church to the field for the groundbreaking which will take place at 1:00 pm.
  • Parking lot attendants will be directing traffic before and after the noon Mass. Cars will not be allowed to interrupt the procession at the beginning or the end of Mass. Please come early and consider using the north parking lot.
  • Bishop Jenky will be present for the groundbreaking to bless the construction site.
  • Everyone who has supported this project will be invited to be in a group photo to mark the occasion. I ask you to dress formally for this event.
  • A reception will follow the groundbreaking in the parish hall. All are welcome.

March 2, 2008

This Sunday is Laetare Sunday, a day to rejoice as Easter draws closer. This is the Sunday on which we take up the annual collection for Catholic Relief Services. CRS provides assistance to the poor and needy around the world, especially in areas affected by crisis. You may contribute through the envelopes you received in your monthly packet or through the special envelopes in the back of the church. Thank you for your concern for the poor and needy.

As our building project moves forward, the components of this project have been released for bidding. If you work of a business that would be interested in bidding on part of this project, please contact the parish office for more information.

February 24, 2008

We are moving forward to our goal of raising $4 million dollars to pay for improvements and additions to the parish and school. These funds will be combined with the assets in our building fund to pay for our project. We have received pledges for over 90% of our goal and are about $350,000 away from going over the top.

Last week, I presented our plans to the finance council for the Diocese of Peoria. At this meeting, I asked for the permission to borrow from the Diocese to cover construction costs until all pledges are paid. The diocesan finance council policies require that parishes have 50% of the needed funds on-hand at the start of construction in order to proceed. Many parishioners have begun making payments on their pledges, and so we are getting closer to reaching the goal of having 50% cash on hand, but we are a little more than $350,000 away. We will be able to proceed this summer if we have the needed funds by the start of major construction in June.

Therefore, I ask for your help. We are very close to our goal, and the responses from the remaining parishioners will certainly take us over our goal.

(1) If you haven't returned your pledge card, please make your pledge and return it to the parish office soon. (2) If you've pledged, please consider making your first payment on your pledge in the coming weeks. This will help us reach the required cash on hand to proceed. (3) If you've already made a payment on your pledge, please consider making an additional payment this spring, ahead of schedule, to help us with cash flow. By reaching the goal of having 50% of the project paid by the start of construction, we will pay significantly less interest on our construction loans. Estimates show we could save as much as $100,000 in interest on the funds we will borrow.

Thank you for your generosity and your support.

February 17, 2008

I would like to thank each of our parishioners who has made a pledge to our campaign. We have pledges from over 650 parishioners totaling more than $3.5 million dollars. I ask those parishioners who have not returned their pledge cards to do so at your earliest convenience. We are close to reaching our goal and need your support and participation.

There are two pamphlets available in the gathering space in the church for those who are interested. First, there are several copies of the Bishop's Festival Letter for this Church year. Bishop Jenky has written on the Christian understanding of death and the importance of Catholic burial rites. Second, there are several copies of the Annual Report of the Diocese of Peoria. This annual report presents more than the financial state of the diocese. It also reflects on our spiritual gifts and the signs of growth that we see throughout our diocese. Please help yourself to either of these pamphlets.

February 10, 2008

I call your attention to some physical improvements at St. Vincent de Paul.

The sound system has been installed. Although it will take some time to fine tune the system, everyone will be better able to hear at Mass. Our original speakers transmitted sound in all directions, often reflecting off the hard surfaces in the church. This reflected sound tends to be more difficult to understand. The shape of the church also produces dead spots where it is very hard to hear. The system that has been installed strives to focus the sound directly and evenly throughout the church with minimum reflection. You will hear speech that is clearer and tones that are richer.

Another improvement has been made to more consistently light the parking lot at night. This will improve safety both for our Saturday evening Masses and for those attending weeknight functions at the parish or school.

These improvements are possible because of our generous donations to our Building Fund and Renewing All Things in Christ Campaign. Thank you for your generosity.

February 3, 2008

We have received many campaign pledge cards over the past days. I am grateful to those who have already returned their cards and also to those who will return their cards in the coming days.

As Lent is about to begin, I call you attention to some special events on our Lenten schedule:

In addition to Ash Wednesday Masses on February 6th, we will have special devotions and Masses at 7:00 pm from February 10-13 to help us enter into the Lenten season. I am grateful to Fr. Don for coordinating this Lenten mission.

On Wednesdays beginning February 13th, the school children will participate in Eucharistic Adoration from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm. Any parishioner is welcome to come join us for prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

The Holy Hours on Thursdays continue throughout Lent from 4:00 to 5:00 pm. Confessions will be heard during this time.

Each Friday evening during Lent we will have a Holy Hour beginning at 6:00 pm. Confessions will be heard from 6:00 to 7:00 pm. Stations of the Cross will be offered at 7:00 pm. I encourage more people to attend the Stations of the Cross this Lenten season. Please know that you are not required to genuflect or kneel during the stations if you have difficulty doing so.

January 27, 2008

Over this past week, a number of our campaign volunteers have helped in our campaign effort by calling parishioners and mailing out pledge cards. This weekend, we have volunteers in the parish hall after all the Masses to help any parishioners who have not made their pledge to fill out their pledge card. This effort will help bring the majority of our campaign work to a conclusion by the end of January. Thank you for your generous support.

Since I came to St. Vincent's, I have heard from many parishioners that it is difficult to hear what is said at Mass. One of the goals of our fundraising was to supply funds to update our sound system in the church. The original equipment is 30 years old and has shown its age. By replacing our sound system with today's technology, dead spots will be reduced and every parishioner will be better able to hear at Mass. I know that this improvement will be very much appreciated by all our parishioners.

In order to accomplish this work on our sound system, scaffolding and other equipment will need to be brought into the church over the next weeks. This temporary inconvenience will affect some of our Masses. I appreciate your patience as this work is done.

January 20, 2008

As I announced this weekend, our campaign continues with the help of our campaign volunteers. Although we have a significant number of volunteers, our parish is sizeable and it is difficult for every parishioner to be personally contacted by one of our volunteers.

Any parishioner who has not made their pledge will have the opportunity to make their pledge next weekend after any of our Masses. We will have campaign volunteers available January 27th and 28th to help you make your pledge.

This campaign will serve both our parish and our school for years to come. Please consider making a five-year pledge next weekend to this important project.

January 13, 2008

Following the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, we return to Ordinary Time. I am grateful for Fr. Don's assistance as I take some time away this week.

This week, I have asked for some additional volunteers from the Men's Club and Women's Guild to help us personally reach out to contact each parishioner to ask for their pledge to our campaign. Our goal is to contact each parishioner before this month's end. Although this personal approach takes more time, it gives each parishioner an opportunity to ask their individual questions and personally consider a significant pledge over a five year period.

The payment of pledges can take place monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. Those who would like to pay monthly will have the option to make their commitment via electronic debit. Otherwise, payment reminders will be mailed out at appropriate times. Payments can be mailed to the parish or returned in the weekly collection.

January 6, 2008

On this feast of the Epiphany, I welcome our parishioners who have been traveling over the holidays. It is good to welcome our children back to school as we begin the new calendar year. I am grateful for the kind Christmas wishes from so many of our parishioners.

On January 6th, I will be meeting with our division co-chairs as we plan for a full month of activity in our campaign for parish and school improvements. We have recruited over 100 volunteers and will be engaged in important work of reaching out to each parishioner for a pledge before the end of the month. If you are a volunteer who has not yet been trained, or if you are interested in volunteering, please call the rectory and we will make arrangements for you to attend a training session. Because of the many parishioners who have volunteered, each volunteer only needs to approach a few parishioners for a pledge in order to make our campaign a success.

Read previous entries from 2007.

Read previous entries from 2006.