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The Pastor's Column (Archive 2009)

Msgr. Gray's Column in the Parish Bulletin

You can see past bulletins on-line by clicking here.

December 27

During this octave of Christmas, 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.

On behalf of Fr. Schultz and myself, I offer my sincere thanks and appreciation for the Christmas cards we have received from our parish families. It is our pleasure to be with you at this parish and I am very grateful for your good wishes.

Special congratulations to our St. Vincent de Paul Eighth Grade Girls Basketball team for their undefeated record and their state championship title!

December 20

On behalf of the clergy and staff of the parish and school, I wish everyone at St. Vincent de Paul Parish a very Merry Christmas! May God pour out his blessings on your families and friends at this blessed time. I pray that the peace of the newborn Christ child remain with each of you.

Please note the various Masses on Thursday evening for Christmas Eve and our regular Sunday Mass schedule on Christmas Day. I look forward to joining with you to welcome the birth of our Messiah.

If you have time to help us make this season special, please join us Monday evening at 6:00 pm to help decorate the Church for Christmas. Many helpers make the decoration go smoothly.

December 13

Thank you to all who attended our Advent parish mission as we asked our Blessed Mother to lead us through these days to the birth of Jesus Christ. I also offer a reminder that additional confession times are still scheduled during Advent.

This Monday, the school will have its Christmas concert for Kindergarten through eighth grade students. (The pre-school Christmas program will be held on Thursday.) On behalf of our school children, I extend an open invitation to all our parishioners to attend this concert. Even if you donít have children or grandchildren in the school, and especially if you havenít seen the new facilities, I invite you to come enjoy a musical evening in the Christmas spirit. The new gym and stage will be well utilized as our students sing and perform. It was one year ago that we dedicated these facilities and I extend my thanks to the many parishioners who have contributed to make this addition a reality.

December 6

Last week we welcomed over a dozen persons in our RCIA class into the Catechumenate at the 10:30 am Mass. Congratulations to our new catechumens as they took this first step on the way to entering the Church at Easter.

We honor our Lady this week by celebrating Immaculate Conception on Tuesday. Please take note of the Mass schedule for this Holy Day of Obligation. Masses for the Holy Day are offered Monday evening and Tuesday.

The Advent Confession schedule is also printed in the bulletin. We encourage you to attend our parish Mission begining Wednesday evening. We will meditate on the Blessed Mother as we make our Advent jouney to Christmas.

November 29

We now begin the season of Advent in preparation for the birth of Our Lord. Make this a holy season by consecrating it with your prayers and devotions. I encourage you to make a special effort to attend one of our daily Masses and to make a confession during this season. Additional times for confessions will be posted in the back of the church.

As part of our Advent devotions, Fr. Schultz and I will be offering a three day parish mission between the feast of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe. On December 9th, 10th, and 11th at 7:00 pm, there will be an hour of adoration with a Marian reflection. Confessions will be heard during this time. Let Mary help prepare you for the coming joy of Christmas.

November 22

We wish everyone a happy feast of Christ the King and a happy Thanksgiving!

Please join us for Mass on Thanksgiving to give thanks to God for all the gifts that we have received. There will be one Mass at 9 AM on Thanksgiving Day. As a way of being mindful of those who are less fortunate, I ask you to remember our donations to our local food pantries. Please bring a non-perishable food item with you to Thanksgiving Day Mass for our food pantry donation box.

November 15

Congratulations to all our students who have received the sacrament of Confirmation on Wednesday! We continue to pray that the gifts of the Holy Spirit will continue to strengthen them throughout their lives. I offer my thanks to all those who participated in the teaching, planning, and coordination of our annual Confirmation.

I also express my thanks to the Womenís Guild and the Menís Club for their hard work on our Holiday Bazaar which was held on Saturday. Many hours go into the preparation and planning of this event which is always a joyful opportunity for our parish to gather together. In addition to the officers, I also thank the innumerable volunteers who helped to serve the food, manage the booths, supervise the childrenís games, and keep track of our auction and raffle. Our entire parish deserves congratulations for a successful event and a job well done.

November 1

Happy feast of All Saints! We honor all the saints today and we pray for the souls in purgatory during the month of November. You are invited to write the name of the faithful departed in the Book of the Dead kept in the foyer during this month. Please also note the school Mass celebrated on Monday this week for All Souls Day.

As you know, we have small cardboard boxes in the back of the church to collect food pantry donations to support St. Bernard and South Side food pantries. I am grateful to all those who donate non-perishable foods on a regular basis to help sustain these services to the less fortunate.

With the help of Deacon Bob Myers, we now have a more suitable box for food donations. The box in the foyer will draw greater attention to this apostolate of providing food donations to the poor. I encourage you to join in this effort by bringing in a food donation.

October 25

It is no surprise to hear concerns about the flu in our community. I offer a few practical suggestions:

First, practice good hand washing technique. Washing hands is the best defense against spreading germs. You may notice that our extraordinary ministers use a hand cleanser before distributing Communion.

Second, anyone who is concerned may choose not to shake hands at the sign of peace. Instead a person may wave or bow oneís head to your neighbor with your hands folded. Although this may seem awkward, it is more charitable greet your neighbor this way than to spread germs by shaking hands.

Third, anyone who is sick with flu symptoms does not sin by missing Mass. Again, it is more charitable to avoid infecting your neighbor. Please use the same caution in staying home from Mass that you would responsibly use in staying home from school or work when sick. If you cannot come to Mass, consecrate the Lordís Day by spending some time in prayer, reading scripture or reciting the Rosary.

October 18

St. Vincent de Paul will celebrate its 50th anniversary as a parish in 2012. Although this anniversary is still a few years away, there is one activity that I would like to consider at this time.

In preparation for this anniversary, I would be interested in taking a group of parishioners on a pilgrimage to France and Italy. Rome is always a popular destination for Catholic pilgrimages. St. Vincent de Paul spent much of his life in Paris and is buried there at the Church of the Missions. This pilgrimage might take place sometime in 2011.

If there are parishioners interested in this trip, some advanced planning needs to happen now. I would like some volunteers to assemble as an advisory committee. The only requirement to join this committee is that you have an interested in going on the pilgrimage. I will ask this group to give their opinion about some of the details of the trip, so we can plan the pilgrimage in a way that will be of interest to our parishioners.

If you are interested in offering your advice, please contact the parish office for more details.

October 11

This weekend I present the parish with the annual report. I renew my challenge to you to examine and increase your level of support for the parish. The contributions to the parish help support the work of Catholic education at our school. The included information demonstrates how school income and expenses have increased while parish contributions have not.

At the request of several parishioners, we will begin offering electronic giving through automatic withdrawals from your checking or savings account. I know that many people have moved away from checks and checkbooks to electronic or on-line banking. Some parishioners have expressed the desire to simplify their contributions by using this modern method.

Participation is entirely optional. For those who are interested, registration forms are available in the parish office.

October 4

Last weekend we celebrated the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul. St. Vincent was a model of charity, helping those in poverty, providing education to children, and deepening the spiritual life of those he served.

We follow the example of St. Vincent de Paul through our donations of food and money to local food pantries. Recently, I was contacted by the St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Jude for additional help. There is a need, now more than ever, for volunteers to help with this outreach to our needy brothers and sisters.

St. Vincent de Paul Society volunteers serve approximately eight hours per month and visit those who request help to determine what assistance the Society is able to offer. The group at St. Jude is willing to partner with us and will provide training for any volunteers from this parish who want to help.

Please consider opening your heart to this ministry. All that is needed is the willingness to volunteer and some of your time. If you want to know more, please call the parish office.

September 27

Happy Feast Day of St. Vincent de Paul!

The Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima will come to St. Vincent de Paul. This Statue is modeled after the vision of Our Lady described by the three children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. We are specially blessed as the Pilgrim Virgin Statue will come to our parish on October 13th which is the 82nd anniversary of the final appearance of Our Lady of Fatima. On this special day we will have two events.

First, the monthly rosary for our school children will be moved to October 13th at 2:30 pm. Anyone is welcome to join us for the rosary.

Second, all are invited to an evening holy hour with the Pilgrim Virgin Statue at 7 pm. During this holy hour, we will have the opportunity to learn more about the Pilgrim Virgin Statue and the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. We will also have the opportunity to renew our devotion to the Blessed Mother. Please welcome your friends to join us for this special holy hour.

September 20

On this Catechetical Sunday, we honor all the teachers in our grade school, CCD program, RCIA program, and adult education programs. May God bless all those who give their time to teach the faith.

Next weekend we have a special cause for celebration. The feast of St. Vincent de Paul falls on Sunday, September 27th. This celebration is a local solemnity for our parish. Therefore, we will use special readings and prayers for St. Vincentís feast day, rather than using the 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time. We look forward to this special opportunity to honor our parish patron.

September 13

Next weekend is Catechetical Sunday. I invite all our teachers and catechists to join us next weekend at the 9:00 am Mass on September 20th. We will have an opportunity to recognize our teachers for their service to our children, and they will receive a special blessing.

This weekend after all Masses, there will be a representative for the 40 Days For Life in the back of the Church. Please help us promote a greater respect for life by your prayers, penances, and by volunteering to keep a vigil in front of the abortion clinic.

Finally, there will be a brief review meeting for our extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion after each Mass over the weekend of September 26-27. All extraordinary ministers are required to attend one of these meetings. The meeting will take place immediately after Mass in the church and will not last more than 10 minutes.

September 6, 2009

Three items for your attention:

CCD registration begins next week on Wednesday, September 9th. We look forward to a new year of instruction for our CCD students on Wednesday nights as well as for our parochial students during the school day. I am also happy to announce that Gina Budris is our new CCD Coordinator and takes over CCD duties that Rachel Tigue had last year. Rachel remains our DRE and middle school religion teacher at the grade school.

RCIA begins the following week on Monday, September 14th. There have already been a number of persons expressing interest in beginning classes to become Catholic. However, there is always room for more. If you are interested in becoming Catholic, or know someone interested, please join us in the parish offices on September 14th at 7:00 pm.

Finally, I am in need to a volunteer to help vacuum the church on a regular basis. The time is flexible. All you need is a willingness to give an hour or two each week to help keep our church is good condition. If you are interested, please call the parish office.

August 30, 2009

Last year I asked for volunteers to serve on a parish pastoral council. This council met several times to explore ideas to strengthen our parish. In August, the pastoral council met again and selected two primary goals to focus on for the new school year.

One goal is to encourage programs for adult education, such as the two that we are already planning for this year: the Jeff Cavins study of Acts of the Apostles, and the Covenant of Love program for married couples.

A second goal is to find ways to more readily welcome new parishioners. This second committee will work on making it easier for those who are interested to take a more active part in parish activities and parish organizations.

On a separate note, I ask the parish to welcome Leora Wallace who is an ECHO student spending two years with us as an intern. The ECHO program is run by the University of Notre Dame and provides candidates with a Masterís Degree in Catechesis after two years of practical experience in a parish.

August 23, 2009

We welcome back our students to our Catholic grade school and we look forward to welcoming back our CCD students in a few weeks.

Looking far ahead into the spring, we have decided to move First Communion up one week. After consultation with the teachers and catechists, it seems that there are so many activities in May that our teachers and students can be distracted from the importance of First Communion. Therefore, First Communion will be moved up one week this year to Saturday, April 24, 2010, at 10:00 am. I hope that this allows our students to make the best preparation they can to receive Communion. By making this announcement very early, I also hope that this schedule will also accommodate the schedules of our parents and other family members who plan to attend.

August 16, 2009

It is good to welcome our students back to school as we start a new year. As we move out of the time of summer vacations and back into the school year, it is good to get back into the normal parish rhythms. One of these rhythms includes the Friday school Mass which begins this week.

The Menís Club and Womenís Guild are signing up parishioners for a new year. All men of the parish are invited to join the Menís Club at their meetings on the second Tuesday of the month. All women of the parish are invited to join the Womenís Guild. Volunteer forms for the events hosted by the Womenís Guild are available in the information rack near the parish office window in the church lobby.

With the advice of our parish finance council, we slightly reduced the budgeted figure for our weekly Sunday contributions. This reduction reflects the economic challenges that many families are facing. This reduction is also related to our cost cutting efforts to trim any unnecessary spending at our parish. I depend on your support of our parish and I work to use your contributions as effectively as I can. Thank you for your sacrificial offerings that support St. Vincent de Paul Parish.

August 9, 2009

We continue to meditate on the Eucharist, the Bread of Life, in our Gospel. I want to take a moment to consider two observations about the sanctity of the Eucharist. The Eucharistic Host is the truly present Body of Christ and is the most sacred gift we have in our church.

It sometimes happens that a visitor in a Catholic parish, who is unfamiliar with the Eucharist, may come forward at Communion and take a Host in imitation of those in front of him or her. No one is permitted to walk away with an unconsumed Host at the time of Communion. For this reason, our priests, deacons, and extraordinary ministers must be vigilant to make sure that everyone who receives the Host also consumes it. In order to safeguard the sacredness of the Eucharist, I sometimes must follow a person to their pew if he or she did not consume the Host.

It also sometimes happens that a Host is dropped during the distribution of Communion. This may happen because of a lack of attention, or because a person may be rushed. While accidents sometimes happen, we should all carefully and reverently receive Communion to avoid dropping the Host. In my observations at St. Vincent, the dropping of the Hostóthough rareóstill happens too frequently.

I ask for your help in protecting the Eucharist in two ways: (1) Please reverently consume the Host promptly after you receive it and before turning away from the altar. (2) Please be most careful to treat the Host reverently when you receive.

August 2, 2009

As we look ahead to a new school year, if you or someone you know has children of grade school age, especially students beginning kindergarten, I invite you to look at our grade school. We have an excellent Catholic school that forms your children in an environment of faith and morals. The school office returns to its regular hours this week.

If you have college age children, I also invite you to become informed about the Catholic programs at your childís college or university. Encourage your children to check out the Newman Centers or other Catholic centers at their college campus. If you need any help finding out what campus ministry is available at your childís college, please ask Fr. Schultz or I for more information.

July 26, 2009

As things slow down for the summer, we have had the opportunity to work on a few some physical improvements. In addition to maintaining our school building, you may notice in the church that the bathrooms have been repainted with the help of our seminarians.

Our seminarians have been on their summer diocesan retreat this past week. However, time goes fast and it will soon be time for them to return to seminary. Their last weekend with us will be next weekend (August 1-2). In order to assist them with their expenses during the year at seminary, I invite you to make an offering to them in gratitude for their time with us this summer. Those who wish to support them will be invited to make their offering next weekend.

July 19, 2009

We are still enjoying the summer months, but I ask you to remember that our RCIA program will begin within a few months. RCIA is short for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. These classes provide instruction for an adult who wants to convert to the Catholic Church. Interested persons attend a weekly class from September until Easter at which time they are received into the Church.

Do you know anyone who should consider joining the Catholic Church? This is the time to ask and encourage those whom you know. Sometimes it only takes the nudge of a personal invitation to get someone to think about joining us in the practice of our faith. More information will be available in August about RCIA classes for this year.

July 12, 2009

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was enacted in 1996. HIPAA protects employee's health insurance coverage, provides standards for electronic health care transactions, and insures the privacy of your health data. As a result of this legislation, hospitals have become very scrupulous in protecting the privacy of your medical information. This means that no one, not even your parish priest, can be notified that you are in the hospital unless you give your consent.

It may happen that a parishioner is sick in the hospital, but have not been visited because the clergy and extraordinary ministers did not know they were in the hospital. If you or a family member is admitted to the hospital, please ask the hospital to list you as a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, and ask them to include you in the list of Catholic patients to be visited by Catholic ministers.

I am also taking some time this summer to review our list of homebound parishioners. If someone you know is unable to come to Mass because of health reasons and needs to receive Communion at home, please contact the parish office to make arrangements.

July 5, 2009

During times of need, the local food pantries in our area do great work to provide for those who struggle. St. Vincent de Paul supports our local food pantries, both with donations of food and monetary donations.

Since opening the parish office, you may have noticed that the cardboard boxes for food donations have moved from the edges of the foyer to the hallways off of the foyer. Your donations of non-perishable food items are still most welcomed and are distributed to our local food pantries each week.

Some people make monetary donations to the food pantries. These contributions can also be made through our regular Sunday collection in any envelope marked ďFood Pantry.Ē Thank you for your assistance to the poor.

June 14, 2009

This feast of Corpus Christi gives us an opportunity to consider the central importance of the Eucharist as the Body of Christ in our Catholic faith. I offer a few observations about receiving Communion as reverently as possible.

When receiving the Host in the hand, I encourage each person to use two handsóif possibleóto receive the host reverently. This helps avoid accidentally dropping the Host. Every caution should be taken to avoid allowing the Host to fall to the floor. I urge each person to consume the host promptly after receiving it. Our extraordinary ministers always keep an eye out for a person unfamiliar with our practices who may take the Host away with them without consuming it. Your help is appreciated in making sure that no one walks away with an unconsumed Host.

Beyond these exterior practices, there are also interior ways to receive the Host as reverently as possible. Above all, open your hearts to receive Our Lord through prayer. It is a wonderful practice to spend a few minutes in prayer preparing before Mass, and a few minutes after Mass making a thanksgiving for the graces received. Also, cleanse your heart by approaching confession. Asking for the forgiveness of our sins prepares us to make a more loving home for Our Lord when we receive Him. Every part of the Mass, from the Liturgy of the Word through the Liturgy of the Eucharist, leads us to the moment in which we come to meet the Lord personally in Communion. I pray that we each immerse ourselves in the celebration of the Mass to lead us to Our Lord as deeply as possible.


Annual Diocesan Appeal update

So far, we have received pledges from about one-third of our parishioners for the Annual Diocesan Appeal. The total pledges received are approximately $80,000, so we are very close to our goal of $103,595 for this year. Those who have not returned a pledge card will receive one in the mail inviting you to make a pledge. I ask you to return these cards in the next few weeks in the collection or in the mail.

Thank you for your participation.

June 7, 2009

This summer we will have two seminarians with us. James Possin will be a senior in college at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary, Winona, MN. Brian Fink will go into his second year of pre-theology at Mount Saint Maryís Seminary, Emmitsburg, MD. Both men are part of the ordination class of 2014. James is assigned to our parish and will work full time with Fr. Schultz and me this summer. Brian is assigned to work at Resurrection Cemetery with residence in our parish. We will see him at some of our Masses.

The duty to pray for vocations and to encourage vocations falls on every member of the Church. I ask you to pray for these men and for Kris Engelsen, the seminarian from our parish. Moreover, I ask you to actively promote priestly vocations among your families and the young people whom you know. The growth of our parishes in this diocese depends on finding, cultivating, and praying for good and holy priests to serve Godís people.

May 31, 2009

It has only been since the parish office has been moved to face the parking lot that I have discovered just how many people drive through our parking lot during the day. At times, I am surprised by the speed of drivers passing through our lot.

In order to reduce wear and tear on the lot, I will begin closing the gate in our parking lot routinely over the summer. The gate will be open for all weekday and weekend Masses and when there is a public function at the parish. Please be aware that the gate will be closed at other times.

I hope everyone has an enjoyable and fun summer.

May 24, 2009

There are two new groups of volunteers I would like to single out for recognition. A few months ago, our parish was asked by Friendship House to help feed the poor at their Sunday Soup Kitchen. With the help of the members of our parish pastoral council and the Knights of Columbus from our parish, we have met this challenge. These volunteers prepared the donated food and served a lunch to over a hundred needy persons in the downtown area. Through the generosity of these volunteers, our parish will be part of the Soup Kitchen rotation, serving the poor approximately once every three months.

I also want to thank the more than two dozen volunteers, as well as our first grade students and parish scouts, who have responded to Fr. Schultzís request for help with our landscaping. With the help of these volunteers, much of our greenery around the church, rectory, and school has been pruned, weeded, and nurtured.

I have asked the parish pastoral council to help us better communicate the needs we have for volunteers. I am encouraged by the willingness of our parishioners to step forward when a need arises. I hope to provide a better list of the many opportunities to volunteer so those who want to help can use their talents to build up our parish.

May 17, 2009

As we complete our school year, I want to highlight the new successes we had this year. With the support and hard work of our education commission, our grade school introduced a new model for our middle school students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. Their courses better prepare them for high school as they rotate to a different specialized teacher for each subject they study. I thank each of our teachers who adapted to the new schedule. This new model has been a great success this year!

Through the efforts of Spanish teacher, we have introduced Spanish classes for our middle school students, and a pre-Spanish program for 3rd through 5th grade. These efforts led to our first school Mass in Spanish, which was very well received. This is one part of preparing our students for the truly global world we live in today.

With the help of our staff, and many parent volunteers, we presented the first musical on our new stage. The performance of Fiddler on the Roof Jr. was a great experience for the students and parents involved. This will become a regular part of our spring calendar. I am happy to add more fine arts to our already strong academic and athletic programs.

Although many of our students probably appreciated the air conditioning more, I want to single out the improvements we made in our technology program. The addition of more ceiling mounted projectors, smart boards, and a portable laptop computer lab have added a stronger technological dimension to our educational program. We will take the next step by tripling the speed of our Internet connection this summer.

As I look back, it is hard to believe that we did so much this year. If you have a grade school child, please consider choosing St. Vincentís to provide a Catholic environment for your childís education. In particular, I encourage parents of new kindergarten students to visit the school and discover our strengths. I thank you for being an ambassador, sharing the good news at St. Vincentís with your neighbors and friends.

May 10, 2009

Congratulations to all our 8th grade students who are completing their grade school education. We will have the opportunity to honor the graduates from our parish grade school at the graduation Mass next Sunday at noon. Special thanks to our CCD graduates who have completed their full eight years of religious instruction. We will honor them at the end-of-year CCD Mass this Wednesday evening. Special congratulations to our high school graduates. I look forward to joining the graduating seniors at the Peoria Notre Dame graduation ceremony.

Let us all encourage these young men and women--especially those who have completed their formal religious instruction--to remain committed to growing in our Catholic faith. We always remain students of our Savior, deepening our knowledge and love of the Lord. By our own prayer, study and our participation in the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist, each of us is always invited to know the Lord more and more.

May 3, 2009

Congratulations to our second grade students who have made their First Holy Communion!

This weekend we are invited to make our pledge as part of the Annual Diocesan Appeal. These contributions support the vital programs and offices run by our diocese. There are several things I ask you to consider as you make your pledge:

  • The Diocese of Peoria did not raise the ADA goal for this year in response to the economic challenges we are all facing. The salaries for priests and diocesan employees are also being frozen this year.
  • The Diocesan Pastoral Center was built with long term financial reserves and not ADA contributions. The ADA funds the annual operating expenses of our diocesan programs.
  • In the face the recent decline in contributions, our parish finance council has recommended several ways to control expenses through a combination of staff reduction, pay freezes, and cutbacks in discretionary spending.
  • The decline in our contributions is especially difficult since our assets are even more limited as requests for tuition assistance from needy school families are going up.
  • Nevertheless, our parish does need to set aside funds for parking lot repairs. The surplus from our ADA will be reserved for this purpose.
I ask you to keep the important needs of our parish in mind as you complete your ADA pledge card. Please return your pledge in the collection within the next two weeks. I also urge you to strengthen your regular Sunday contributions that meet the needs of our operational budget.

April 26, 2009

This is the normal weekend for elections for our Education Commission. We had three applicants for the three positions. Therefore, I am happy to announce the three new members of the Commission: Noreen Dillon (reelected), Jennifer Flaherty, and Brendan Gardiner.

Our grade school students are working hard preparing for the first play production in our new gymnasium. They will present Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. on May 8th and 9th. This production takes the place of our normal spring concert. Please mark the date on your calendar and plan to attend our Friday evening or Saturday matinee performance.

Finally, our Annual Diocesan Appeal pledges are delayed by one week because we are privileged to have Fr. John Phalen with us this weekend. Next weekend, we will conduct the appeal. It is important to know that the Diocese has frozen the ADA goal for this year. Bishop Jenky has implemented a budget freeze for all diocesan offices in response to current financial challenges.

April 19, 2009

There are several big events in the near future to draw to your attention:

On Sunday afternoon, April 26th from 1 to 5 PM, a workshop will be offered on surviving tough economic times. This workshop is totally free and open to all. The workshop will begin with a keynote address in the parish hall. With the help of the Antioch Group, a series of breakout sessions will be offered throughout the afternoon. Take advantage of this great educational opportunity. Please extend an invitation to your friends you might wish to attend.

We are priviledged to have Fr. John Phalen, C.S.C. from Holy Cross Family Ministries with us to give a mission on the Rosary. Fr. Phalen continues the work of Fr. Peyton, the Rosary Priest. After Fr. Phalen speaks at the Menís March next weekend, he will be with us from Monday, April 27th through Thursday, April 30th to meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary. He will give evening reflections over these four nights, beginning each night at 7:30 pm in the Church. Each night, he will reflect on one set of mysteries: the joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and finally the glorious mysteries.

Finally, we will have an open house in the parish hall on Sunday, May 3rd, after the noon Mass. I look forward to celebrating with you the honor of being named a Monsignor by our Holy Father.

April 12, 2009

On behalf of Fr. Schultz and all at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, I wish you and your families a very happy Easter. May the Lord Jesus Christ, risen for us this day, bring us lasting peace and joy. As a parish, we congratulate each and every person who was baptized, confirmed, or who made their First Communion at the Easter Vigil.

No one needs any reminder that our country is going through difficult economic times. There are a number of families in our own parish who are in sudden hardship and who now struggle to provide their children with an education in our Catholic grade school or high school. I am working to provide financial aid where it is needed most. It is important for the parish to know that our Sunday collection helps in part to pay for the running of our grade school. Your contributions help to keep Catholic education affordable for our families and our children.

During these times in which we all pinch our pennies, know that your contributions to St. Vincent de Paul are now even more important in sustaining our mission of spreading the Gospel. I am deeply grateful for your generous and regular Sunday offerings.

April 5, 2009

As we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, I hope that you will join me in the other special Masses of the Triduum.

First, the Chrism Mass is celebrated by the Bishop in the Cathedral on Tuesday, April 7th, at 1:00 pm. This is the Mass at which the new holy oils are blessed for the year and the priests of the diocese gather to renew our priestly vows. All are welcome.

On Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lordís Supper takes place at 7:30 pm. This Mass commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and of the Priesthood. This is the Mass at which the washing of the feet is re-enacted. This Mass ends with a Eucharistic procession as the Blessed Sacrament is moved to the Altar of Repose near Maryís altar. The Church will be open until 11:00 pm for prayer. You are also invited to join a pilgrimage group from the Cathedral that will be visiting our Altar of Repose between 9:30 pm and 10:00 pm that night.

On Good Friday, we celebrate the Passion of the Lord at 2:30 and 7:30 pm. At this liturgy, we read the Passion according to John, venerate the cross of Christ, and receive from the Eucharist consecrated on Holy Thursday.

On Holy Saturday, there are no morning or afternoon Masses. The only Mass is the Easter Vigil beginning at 8:00 pm. At this Mass, we bless the new Easter candle and receive new converts into the Church. Please join us as we welcome about 20 people who will be baptized, confirmed or who will make their First Communion.

Masses on Easter Sunday will be at the normal times. We will have a special blessing at the noon Mass as some children will be baptized during this Mass.

March 29, 2009

Human life is a gift from God and is truly precious. The Catholic Church has been consistent and vigorous in teaching, promoting, and defending respect for human life as one of the core values of our faith.

Our deep belief in the dignity of human life intersects with politics in areas such as abortion and embryonic stem cell research. There have been recent attempts to introduce legislation on the state and federal level that could severely impact pro-life efforts. These bills could force Catholic hospitals to be complicit in grave sins against life. These bills could also compel workers in the health care field to cooperate in objectionable practices even when it violates their conscience. I urge you to become informed about legislative initiatives and to contact your state and federal elected officials to support respect for life.

Let us always pray for expectant mothers and those wounded by sins against life. May we never forget that our gracious God loves us more than we can ever know and that He alone can bring us true peace.

March 22, 2009

As we move through Lent, I draw your attention to our confession schedule. Confessions are heard at a variety of times on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays of Lent. Please make time for this important part of our Lenten repentance if you have not already done so.

I encourage our parishioners to dress up when coming to Mass. Warmer weather naturally leads to more casual dress for comfort. However, Sunday Mass is our most important and solemn time to worship and adore the Living God. It is always good for us to give God our best. Lent is also a time to reform any bad habits, and so I ask each parishioner to redouble efforts to be at Mass on time and avoid leaving early.

May our Lord Jesus continue to lead us from the cross to the resurrection as we draw closer to Easter!

March 15, 2009

St. Vincent's has a provisional Pastoral Council that has met several times over the course of the last several months since it was formed in the fall. The insights, suggestions, and especially the creativity of these volunteers has been helpful and inspiring to me.

Among the projects for this year, the Pastoral Council is working on improving communication about our parish and school functions and activities. We especially want to make this information readily available to new parishioners who join St. Vincent's. Much of this information has already been assembled in our parish and school websites which have been redesigned over the past year. If you haven't seen these new sites, I encourage you to visit www.svdppeoria.com and www.svdpvikings.com.

If you know of an activity in the parish or the school that is not represented on these websites, I invite you to contact me so we can make our websites more accurate, complete, and helpful.

March 8, 2009

We will shortly be finishing the last projects that are part of our Renewing All Things in Christ building project. This project was made possible by your past contributions to our building fund and your pledges to our capital campaign. The construction debt that we now carry will be paid off by your regular payments on your pledges. Every additional dollar paid to our campaign reduces the interest we pay on our construction loan.

There are some additional expenditures that are outside the scope of our building project that I want to bring to the attention of the parish. I approved some tuckpointing and other necessary repairs that arose last fall. I purchased two houses adjacent to our field that became available last year. While these houses will provide us the possibility of expanding our field, I will not take this step until the houses have been paid for. Our parking lot is in evident need of repair. I have tried to avoid a major expenditure by having problem areas patched over the last few summers. I am willing to have our lot resurfaced, although I again do not want to incur further debt to accomplish this task.

At this time, it seems prudent to commit our building fund contributions to resurfacing the parking lot. If we have sufficient funds, we can address the parking lot this summer. If not, we can save up to address the parking lot at a later date.

March 1, 2009

Last weekend, I was honored to learn that Pope Benedict XVI had named me as a chaplain of His Holiness. I am grateful for this honor and I receive on behalf of our beloved parish as your administrator, and on behalf of the tribunal where I serve as judicial vicar.

There will be a public ceremony at the Cathedral on Thursday, April 23rd to recognize all the new monsignors. As details become available, I will pass them on. All will be welcome to this celebration of ecclesiastical honors. Shortly after this date, we will have an opportunity to celebrate this honor here at St. Vincent's.

Please be aware of our Lenten devotions, including Friday evening adoration, confessions, and Stations of the Cross. Next week, I will announce additional confession times so that everyone has multiple opportunities to receive the sacrament of reconciliation this Lent.

February 22, 2009

The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday this week. Please pay careful attention to the Lenten regulations in the bulletin. Ash Wednesday is a day of fast and abstinence. The Fridays of Lent are days of abstinence from meat.

Beyond the requirements of fast and abstinence, I encourage each of our parishioners to do additional penance, and to spend additional time in prayer during this season. I draw your attention especially to our Friday devotions. We will have Eucharistic Adoration beginning at 6pm. Confessions will be heard from 6pm to 7pm. Stations of the Cross begin at 7pm, followed by Eucharistic Benediction at 7:30pm.

In addition to Lenten fast and abstinence, the Stations of the Cross are a fundamental part of our Lenten spiritual devotion. I strongly commend these essential spiritual exercises to each and every parishioner on the Fridays of Lent. It is a sacrifice to make time on a Friday evening to spend time with Our Lord. This is a sacrifice that is well worth the effort.

February 15, 2009

Toward the end of each calendar year, we ask for applications for persons to serve on our parish finance council. Two members are elected each year to serve a three-year term on our parish finance council beginning in January. This is an important council that reviews the finances of our parish and school and provides me with advice and guidance in all financial matters.

There were two persons who applied for the two elected positions to the parish finance council. Therefore, these two persons are automatically elected to our finance council. Congratulations to John Bannon, a current member who has been re-elected, and Jeff Bonick, a past member who is now newly elected.

These newly elected members join our trustees Nancy Scurry and Tom Duncan, and the other members of our finance council: Paul Coogan, Joe Dunlap, John Kamin, Lon Lyons, and Mary Cay Westphal.

February 8, 2009

I encourage every family to consider subscribing to the Catholic Post. Every parishioner should have received an envelope in the mail to renew your Post subscription. These envelopes can be returned in the regular collection.

In today's society, we have many avenues by which we stay informed of the news. We also know that each form of media has its own bias, focus, and perspective. Especially in our world today, it is good for us to have a Catholic source for our news and information. The Catholic Post keeps us informed of events in our local diocese and around the world. The Catholic Post also keeps us up-to-date about the important moral and theological issues of our time. I hope you will join me in receiving the Catholic Post in your home each week.

February 1, 2009

I ask for your prayers for some members of our parish preparing for important sacraments:

We have several adults who are preparing to enter the Church at Easter. They have been following our RCIA class since September. These converts are will join the Bishop at the Cathedral to be enrolled among the elect at the end of February. We look forward to their baptisms and professions of faith in April.

Our second grade students recently made their first confessions. We keep them in prayer as we look forward to their first Communion. Each of these students will be asked to bring the gifts forward at one of our Sunday Masses in the spring.

Our seventh grade students will receive confirmation in the fall. We have recently received the date for confirmation. Bishop Jenky will come to confirm our young people on Wednesday, November 11, 2009. We pray that they may be ready to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

January 25, 2009

This Sunday begins Catholic School's Week. We salute our Catholic schools for the role they play in passing on the Catholic faith to our young people. I want to salute our faculty and staff for the excellent work they do in teaching the faith.

This Saturday, I will begin a scripture study on the Mass. We will spend approximately four weeks studying the passages from the Pentateuch that point to the Eucharist and help us to understand the Mass. We will begin in the parish hall on Saturday at 8:30 am. Each session will last one hour. I will post information about our study on a website to make it accessible to anyone who is interested: www.jgray.org/mass. All are welcome to attend.

January 18, 2009

This weekend we call to mind the tremendous gift of human life. Pennies for Life will be collected after each Mass. All that is asked is a small contribution of one penny in gratitude for each year of life we have been given. These contributions support the Right to Life efforts in our community.

We also remember the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. This anniversary reminds us that we must work and pray for a greater respect for human life in our country. Thursday, January 22nd, is a day of penance in our country for sins against human dignity. I ask you to make a special effort to consecrate that day by prayer or penance.

Beginning on January 31st, I plan to begin a scripture study on the Mass. This study will examine the scriptural foundations of the Mass found in the Pentateuch. I plan to offer this study on Saturday mornings after the morning Mass. As time goes on, I will offer further studies looking at the Mass from the perspective of other parts of the Bible. More information will come in next week's bulletin.

January 11, 2009

Although we are only at the beginning of the spring semester, this is the time to consider applying for financial grants for Catholic education. Any families may have children in Catholic schools next year are encouraged to apply for a diocesan grant from the John Lancaster Spalding fund. These funds were raised as part of the Rooted in Faith campaign several years ago and are distributed by the Diocese of Peoria according to need. Applicants must fill out an form and provide a copy of their completed 2007 tax return. The deadline for application is February 15th, so I encourage you not to delay your application. Last year, our families received about 20% of their aid from this diocesan fund.

In addition to the funds available from the Diocese of Peoria, St. Vincent de Paul Parish provides assistance from our school endowment. These parish grants are awarded after the diocesan funds are distributed. We have been fortunate to be able to meet the full demonstrated financial need for each family attending our grade school. The gift of a Catholic education is made possible by your contributions to our school endowment. Thank you for your generosity.

January 4, 2009

As we celebrate the Epiphany, we honor the three wise men who brought their gifts to the Lord. Like the wise men, we are blessed when we return to the Lord from the generosity he has given to us.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my tremendous gratitude for the generosity of each of our parishioners. Even during challenging times, I am encouraged by your continued and faithful support of this parish over the Christmas holidays. I am also heartened by the many generous contributions made in the course of this past year, especially to our building project. Most importantly, I appreciate your willingness to volunteer and support the activities of our parish and school.

On behalf of Fr. Schultz and myself, I thank you for all the encouragement, kindness, and support we have received. May God bless you!

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