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The Pastor's Column (Archive 2010)

Msgr. Gray's Column in the Parish Bulletin

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

December 26, 2010

During this octave of Christmas, we continue to celebrate with joy the birth of our Lord. Please note that Mary, Mother of God is not a holy day of obligation this year because it falls on Saturday.

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.

December 19, 2010

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 Friday evening for Christmas Eve and our regular schedule for Christmas Day. The Feast day of the Holy Family follows on Sunday. Please note that there will not be any Saturday afternoon Masses because of the Masses Saturday morning for Christmas Day.

If you have time to help us make this season special, please join us to unpack the Christmas garland after our last Mass this Sunday at 12:45 pm, and Monday evening at 6:00 pm to help decorate the Church for Christmas. Many helpers make the decoration go smoothly.

December 12, 2010

This past Sunday we welcomed our RCIA candidates into the Catechumenate. This is the first step on their journey to the Easter Vigil. Please remember to pray for our catechumens who are learning about the Catholic faith and for their continuing conversion.

We also look forward to our school Christmas program Monday evening, December 13th. I know that our parents, grandparents, and relatives of our school children look forward to this evening concert. Even if you don’t have children in the school, please join us at 7 pm in the new gym to take in a special evening of Christmas cheer.

Next Sunday, we will prepare to decorate the church for Christmas. Please join us after the last Mass as we unpack the garland. The men’s club invites you to join us for the work of decorating the church Monday, December 20th, at 6pm in the church.

December 5, 2010

Thank you for your abundant generosity to the South Side Mission collection. I pass on the gratitude expressed by those at South Side Mission and the poor who will be assisted by your generosity.

This week we celebrate the Holy Day of Immaculate Conception on December 8th. The obligation for this holy day can be satisfied Tuesday evening or Wednesday. Please note the special Masses for the holy day in the bulletin.

As we enter into the season of Advent, I encourage each of us to prepare spiritually for the birth of Christ by making a good confession. In addition to our regular times of confession on Saturday afternoon and evening, we have added a variety of other dates and times. Let our Christmas gift to our Lord be a contrite heart ready to welcome Him with joy.

November 28, 2010

I hope everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving. With this weekend, we begin the season of Advent. In spite of the activities that make this time of year busy, I pray that we will all find time to prepare our hearts for the Advent of our Savior born on Christmas Day.

As soon as the children come back from Thanksgiving break, we will have our local Blue Ribbon ceremony. Please join us for the school Mass at 9:15 am, the assembly at 10:15 am, and the reception afterwards.

Each year we seek parishioners to serve on the parish finance council. Two elected members will be chosen to serve a three-year term. If you are interested in serving, please submit a brief summary of your qualifications to the parish office by December 17th. Elections will follow in January. Finance Council members advise on promoting revenue, reviewing expenses, and recommending parish and school budgets. Applicants should have an interest in the long-term good of the parish and some experience in business or financial matters.


Congratulations to Becky Stoughton, a PND senior. She took the state title in both the 200 meter and 500 meter freestyle swim competitions.

November 21, 2010

We wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving this week. We also wish safe travels for all our parishioners and our students who will be away for the holiday.

Please note that there is only one Mass on Thanksgiving at 9:00 am and one Mass on the day after Thanksgiving at 7:45 am.

Thank-you in advance for your generosity during the holidays to those who are less fortunate. Your donations of food, clothing, and gifts for the Giving Tree are most appreciated.

Please join us for our special Blue Ribbon celebration on Monday, November 29th. School Mass will be followed by an assembly in the school gym at 10:15 am. All are welcome to attend and there will be a reception in the parish hall afterwards.

November 14, 2010

South Side Mission is looking for Thanksgiving donations of food items, clothing, or any other small household items. South Side will have blue barrels in the back of church next weekend through Thanksgiving. They also accept larger donations of used furniture. If you are interested in donating a larger item, please contact the parish or South Side Mission to make arrangements.

As we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas, we are mindful of the needs of the poor in our area. Below is a list of the groups that we support as a parish:
-The box marked “Food Pantry Donations” goes to St. Bernard’s Food Pantry and the South Side Office of Concern.
-The box marked “St. Vincent de Paul Society” and money donations “For the poor” go to the St. Vincent de Paul Society operated by our parish and St. Jude Parish.
-The blue barrels mentioned above benefit South Side Mission.
-The Giving Tree will appear soon asking for gifts for the benefit of Catholic Charities and other local charitable organizations.
-Volunteers from our parish prepare a meal for the poor at Friendship House four times per year.
-Furthermore, the school children assist at the Missionaries of Charity Soup Kitchen and with other food drives throughout the school year.


Items requested for South Side Mission:
boxed or bagged cereals, boxes of instant or scalloped potatoes, boxed macaroni & cheese, cake mix, canned fruits and vegetables, canned tuna fish, canned chicken, canned salmon, grain crackers, instant grits, hamburger/tuna helper, jelly, pop tarts, pasta/macaroni, peanut butter, soups, spaghetti sauce


St. Vincent de Paul School is looking for a full time cafeteria worker. Interested parties should submit a resume to Dr. Minick at the school or contact his office at 691-5012.

November 7, 2010

This week, I received the honor of being chosen as one of the forty leaders in the Peoria area under 40. I know that my selection is due in part to the successes we have had here at St. Vincent de Paul parish and school. However, I want to quickly point out that none of the good things we have accomplished here would have been possible without your generosity, your support, and your enthusiasm. I am humbled by this honor which I accept in honor of all the wonderful parishioners here in our parish.

On a separate note, our modern world affords us the advantage of new ways of managing our finances. One of the services we offer in this parish is the option of making contributions to St. Vincent de Paul through direct debit. If you would find it more convenient to use the direct debit method, please take advantage of the “Electronic Contribution Form” located in the information rack by the office window in the church foyer.

October 31, 2010

This past week we held our town hall meeting to consider the cost of supporting our grade school and the payment of debt. I am grateful for everyone who attended. As part of our efforts to provide more support for our school, you will see a new School Support envelope in your monthly packet. Your contributions will help meet the financial needs of our school. You will also find an envelope For the Poor in Our Community to help the needy served by the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

On a separate note, I am grateful for two recent contributions. A memorial offering was given that paid for new vestments at our parish. I am also grateful for a separate donation that provided funds for playground equipment for our school children. Through the generosity also of our Women’s Guild and Men’s Club and with the help of volunteers, we should see this equipment installed on November 6th. Thankfully, there were funds left over from these gifts to put more than $70,000 to our debt. I am most grateful for these bequests and gifts that help us make good progress toward paying off what we owe.


All Saints Day is Monday, November 1st. Because All Saints falls on a Monday, it is not a Holy Day of Obligation this year. However, we will move our school Mass to Monday this week to celebrate this special solemnity.

Tuesday, November 2nd is All Souls Day. Please remember to pray for the poor souls in purgatory on this special day. Special indulgences are granted for visiting a cemetery on All Souls Day.


Blue Ribbon News

On November 15-16, I will travel with some of our school staff to Washington D.C. to attend the national Blue Ribbon ceremony along with the other 303 schools that were honored this year.

I am happy to announce that a representative from the Department of Education will come to St. Vincent de Paul on Monday, November 29th to confer the Blue Ribbon Award on our school. Mr. Tim Tuten, the Special Assistant Director of Special Projects, will represent the Department of Education.

On school Mass will be moved to November 29th at 9:15 am, followed by the Award Assembly in the new Gymnasium, and a reception in the Parish Hall. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.


What can my School Support offering do?
Contributions to our School Support help make up the difference between the cost of operating our school and the tuition paid by school families. For example:
•A one-time gift of $65 pays for a new textbook.
•A gift of $20/month over 3 years pays for the cost of a computer in our computer lab.
•A gift of $83/month over 1 year pays the average scholarship offered to a family in financial need who could not otherwise afford a Catholic education.

October 24, 2010

On Thursday, we will have our town hall meeting at 7 pm in the parish hall. This is an opportunity for the parishioners and the school families to learn more about the needs we have to support our school and reduce debt.

On Friday, we look forward to the annual Trunk or Treat. This celebration provides a safe environment for our children to collect some Halloween candy. Please see the bulletin for more details.

On Saturday, we celebrate the 33rd anniversary of the dedication of our parish church. The anniversary of a church’s dedication is a time to recall the hard work that was done to build the church building that we know and love.

October 17, 2010

This weekend, I am away attending the canonization of St. Andre Bessette, C.S.C., a brother of the Congregation for the Holy Cross. St. Andre served at the Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal in Canada. He was known for his personal holiness, his devotion to St. Joseph, and a large number of miraculous healings attributed to his prayer.

I continue to offer a Bible study in the Book of Revelation on Saturday mornings at 8:30 am. After taking this past Saturday off, we will continue on October 23rd.

Because some people are not able to attend every session, I have posted the information from the class on-line at www.jgray.org/revelation. The website contains both the material handed out as well as the audio recordings of each class.

October 10, 2010

Last year I asked a group of members from the finance council and the education commission to meet about ways to bring down the percentage of parish income that was going to subsidize the grade school. I would like to share the fruits of that work with our school families and the parish as a whole.

There will be a Town Hall meeting on Thursday, October 28th, at 7:00 pm in the parish hall. I welcome every parishioner and school family to attend.

We will discuss four approaches we have examined: 1) How can parish revenue be increased? We want every parishioner to understand the needs and expenses of the school. 2) How can school revenue be increased? We know that any tuition increases must be cautious because many of our school families are burdened by many expenses. 3) How can other revenue sources be increased? We will share some recent successes with the SCRIP program. 4) How can expenses be reduced? We have already seen some benefits from a vigorous review of ways to cut costs at the parish and school. Additionally, we will talk about strategies to reduce our long term debt.

I hope that you will be able to attend this Town Hall meeting. I look forward to seeing many parishioners there.

October 3, 2010

Thanks to all our school children and their families who made a generous donation of food items to the poor on the feast of St. Vincent de Paul.

This weekend, Tom and Pat Pelger spoke about the local St. Vincent de Paul Society. This chapter of the Society (which is different from St. Vincent de Paul Parish) helps the poor and the needy in our own area. In cooperation with volunteers from St. Jude, they visit the poor in order to provide assistance and connect them with available resources.

There are three ways to help: (1) The bulletin will periodically list items needed by the St. Vincent de Paul Society needs. For example, they are currently in need of donated paper products. (2) Cash donations are a great help. Donations marked “for the poor” will be directed to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. (3) If you are able to volunteer your time, Tom and Pat Pelger will help train volunteers in the direct outreach to the poor.

September 26, 2010

Our annual report appears in this weekend's bulletin. Even though we have been through difficult financial times, I appreciate your generosity at our parish. Your generosity has been seen from your support of the Annual Diocesan Appeal and the Fulton Sheen Academy in Ghana.

This week we celebrate the feast of St. Vincent de Paul. At our school Mass, our school children are encouraged to bring in a food donation to support the local St. Vincent de Paul society that serves the poor. Your donation of non-perishable food items is always appreciated.

September 19, 2010

This is Catechetical Sunday. We are happy to recognize our teachers in our parochial school and CCD program.

As you heard last weekend, St. Vincent de Paul School has been recognized by the United States Secretary of Education as a 2010 Blue Ribbon School. This honor is a recognition of the academic excellence that we strive for at St. Vincent de Paul School.

We were required to submit evidence that our school performs in the top 10% of schools nationwide in standardized testing. We also included other information in our application for Blue Ribbon status. We included our addition of a full-time Spanish teacher in 2008. We also included academic programs such as our Academy of Math, Academy of Reading, Accelerated Reader, and dedicated staff that provide supplemental and gifted instruction to students.

In addition to our successful athletic program, we also included our fine arts activities such as our spring musical which was made possible with the addition of the stage in our new gym. Other extra-curricular activities included were our scouting program, scholastic bowl, picture person, declamations, and others.

Most importantly, we have participated in North Central Association Accreditation program. The North Central Association guides schools through a program of continuous improvement. The Improvement Life Cycle begins by analyzing data and setting goals. Strategies are planned to address the goals. Strategies are implemented and evaluated. This evaluation leads to fresh analysis to new goals that perpetuate forward progress. The North Central Association also assists with professional development to provide staff with the tools necessary for advancement.

Credit for this achievement goes to our previous principal, Mr. Mike Birdoes, our dedicated faculty and staff for their commitment and hard work, our education commission for their focus on ways to improve our school, our school parents for their enthusiasm and encouragement, and indeed every parishioner for your support of our educational mission.


What is a Blue Ribbon School?

The Blue Ribbon Schools Program honors public and private schools that high performing. The United States Secretary of Education invites the Council for American Private Education (CAPE) to nominate private schools that meet the criteria for recognition. CAPE certifies that schools meet the minimum requirements established by the Department of Education.

Private schools must be high performing. That is, the achievement of the school's students in the most recent year tested places the school among the highest performing schools in the nation in reading and mathematics as measured by a nationally normed test.

In addition to being a high performing school, private schools must also offer a foreign language. St. Vincent’s added a full time Spanish teacher in the 2008-2009 school year.

Approximately 1/3 of 1% of schools in the United States received this coveted award in 2010. St. Vincent de Paul is among only 19 schools in Illinois to receive this award this year.

254 public and 50 private schools will be honored at an awards ceremony on November 15-16 in Washington, D.C. Another local ceremony will be held at a future date.


What is the Council for American Private Education (CAPE)?

CAPE has a new YouTube video that describes the ways in which religious and independent schools promote the public good and provide a path to a promising future. Their video is available through their website http://www.capenet.org/

Private schools are good for students, good for families, and good for America. The short video describes several of the reasons that motivate parents to choose private schools. Private schools stand for:
-quality academics
-the education of the whole person
-training in moral and ethical values
-caring teachers
-a safe environment
-a supportive community
-individualized attention

CAPE’s motto: “Children only get one education. It should focus on what really counts.”

Private schools focus on more than reading and math. They focus on the moral, spiritual, cultural, academic, aesthetic, and physical education of children.

September 12, 2010

Congratulations to all our students who received the sacrament of Confirmation!

The weekend of September 18-19, Deacon Joe Dockery-Jackson will be at St. Vincent De Paul conducting a mission appeal for Archbishop Fulton Sheen Academies in Ghana, West Africa. The Primary Academy began last September with Kindergarten and First Grade students. This September when classes begin, the Academy will add a Second Grade class.

You may recall that Deacon Joe, along with Fr. Michael Adrie, conducted a similar mission last year at this time. Your generosity last year has enabled work to begin on the construction of the first wing of permanent classrooms for the Academy.

On a separate note, I’m sorry to say that an impaired driver did some damage to the outdoor Schoolyard Habitat that has been set up on the south side of the school behind the gym. There was no damage to the school building. I am appreciative of all the volunteers who have helped to rebuild after the damage. The addition of an outdoor learning environment is an asset for our students and a gift to treasure.

September 5, 2010

We wish everyone a happy Labor Day weekend!

Please remember our students who will be confirmed this week. Their rehearsal is Wednesday evening, and Bishop Jenky will be with us to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation on Thursday evening.

As we get back into the new school year, it is time not only for our children to study and learn. We have several Bible studies planned this year. In addition to the Bible studies in the Jeff Cavins series, I will offer a study of the Book of Revelation on Saturday mornings. The images in Revelation do not need to be frightening or confusing. Rather, a little study shows that Revelation is really a capstone book joyfully tying together all of Scripture and the liturgy in a celebration of the perfect triumph of Jesus Christ.

The first class will be Saturday, September 25th. We will begin after the morning Mass around 8:30 am. We will cover the whole book in about 14 sessions. With a few breaks for holidays, we will finish in January. More information will be available at the first session and in the bulletin.

August 29, 2010

It is good for all our parishioners to know of the many new activities this year. In our parochial school, we have the opportunity for some of our students to participate in a special choir school. In our CCD program, we are adding a Kindergarten class, rather than making students wait until first grade for religious instruction. For our junior high and high school students, there will be a monthly youth group meeting on Sunday evenings. For our mothers with little children, a new Mom and Tots group is forming.

I encourage all our parishioners to take advantage of these and the many other activities at our parish this year.

Periodically we need to ask for volunteers to help with activities at the parish. Now, we are in need to new extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. If you would like to be considered for appointment by our Bishop, please see the volunteer forms in the back of the church.

August 22, 2010

Welcome back to school! As we start the new year, we pray for our students to be confirmed and we also look forward to beginning RCIA for any adult converts who are interested in learning more about the Catholic Faith.

Confirmation will take place on Thursday, September 9th in the evening. Confirmation is the sacrament by which we receive the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Church desires that all Catholics receive confirmation. If any adult has not yet received this sacrament, please contact the parish office so we can make arrangements. Our eighth grade students have prepared all of last year. Please pray for them as they receive this important sacrament in their lives of faith.

RCIA, or the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, is the program of instruction in the Faith to prepare a non-Catholic to enter the Church. Classes run from September until Easter.

Do you know anyone who should think about becoming Catholic? Do you have a family member or friend who you can invite to join our Faith? Please encourage them to consider this possibility. If you know of someone, please contact the parish office or encourage them to attend the opening inquiry session on Monday, September 13th, at 7:00 pm in the music room.

August 15, 2010

Happy feast of the Assumption! We ask the Blessed Mother to watch over us today.

In 1994, shortly before retiring at age 75, Msgr. Livingston made a presentation to the parish about the architecture and the theology of our church building, which was dedicated in 1977. That presentation was recorded on cassette tape and I have recently converted that recording into a digital format.

If you would like to hear Msgr. Livingston describe our church, you can find the recording at www.jgray.org/svdp. The audio recording has aged and unfortunately contains some static. Nevertheless, the distinctive voice of Msgr. Livingston comes through, reminding us of his vision that shaped this parish when it was founded. The website also has a transcript of the hour-long presentation if you prefer to read the text.

As we anticipate our 50th anniversary as a parish in two years, it is good for us to look back on the events that have built up this good parish before we look forward to where we shall be.

August 8, 2010

There are two items to bring to your attention:

First, our focus is on safety as we prepare for the beginning of a new school year, especially as children enter and leave the school building. Traffic may be even more of a concern as more students will attend Richwoods High School this fall. After considering this question with school staff and some education commission members, we will close the parking lot gate during pick-up and drop-off times this year. This may create an inconvenience, but safety for our children must come first.

To help parents, there will be two drop-off areas: One at the south gym entrance for those families entering and leaving via the University entrance and one at the north entrance for those entering and leaving via Northmoor. Parents who park in the main lot can send their students in through the main doors. As we begin the year, the education commission will review this plan.

Second, I draw your attention to an adult faith survey prepared by our parish pastoral council. Please complete the survey found in the back of the church and return it at your convenience. The answers you give will influence which programs will be offered for adults to grow in the faith. Thanks for your time in completing this instrument.

August 1, 2010

Our parish pastoral council will begin a new term this fall. The mission of the pastoral council is to promote the faith life within the parish. The pastoral council helps address needs not covered by the parish finance council or the education commission.

We have 11 returning members from last year and openings for several new members. Volunteers are asked to commit to the following: (1) to attending the monthly meetings on Wednesday evenings; (2) to commit at least 20 hours of service per year on projects recommended by the council; and (3) to commit to at least 5 hours per year of adult education to grow in the faith.

The main goals for this year include adult education and preparations for the parish’s 50th anniversary. Additional goals include the welcoming committee, promoting vocations, and outreaches to seniors and youth.

If you are interested in volunteering, please fill out a “Pastoral Council Application” form in the back of the church.


Please note that the format for reporting contributions has changed as we began a new fiscal year. Year-to-date numbers are now included for our building fund and endowment fund.

Our budget for regular Sunday contributions increased to keep up with rising costs. Please remember our parish in your charitable giving so we can meet our budget needs this year.

July 25, 2010

Next weekend we say farewell to John Steffen, the seminarian who was with us for the summer. He will return to the Josephenum in Ohio. God willing, we will see him a year from now after he has been ordained a deacon. Please keep him in your prayers.

As a sign of our gratitude and to assist him with the expenses of seminary, a voluntary offering will be taken up next weekend for John.

We also welcome back Kris Engelsen to our parish. Kris spent two years at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Maryland exploring a vocation to the priesthood. Kris has discerned that he has not been called to the priesthood and is now living again in Peoria. I am grateful for his willingness to help with some of our parish programs now that he is home.

It is a blessing for young men to spend time in the seminary. Some are called to the priesthood. Others discover they are called to serve the church as lay men. All of them are changed by more deeply encountering the call we all have to live holiness in our lives.


As a reminder, our parking lot will be striped this week. Please be aware that the main lot will be closed while this work is done. The Northmoor lot will remain open this week.

As the parking stripes are clearly marked, you are reminded that cars may only park in designated parking spaces. Keep the 11th Commandment in your heart: Thou shalt not park illegally.


What is the Oath of Fidelity?

A pastor takes possession of his parish by reciting the Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity before his people. The Profession of Faith (the Creed) is recited by the pastor with the congregation, as it is every Sunday. The Creed defines the most important truths of our faith. The Oath of Fidelity is recited by the pastor alone and is a promise to teach the faith as it is taught by the Church. The Oath of Fidelity is more than a promise to faithfully fulfill the obligations of the office of pastor. The Oath is a sign or a guarantee to the people that they will receive authentic instruction from their pastor.

The Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity are required in a variety of circumstances: When a bishop or a deacon is ordained, when a diocesan administrator is elected, when becoming vicar general or judicial vicar, when becoming a pastor, or the rector of a seminary or a Catholic university (Canon 833).

July 18, 2010

A parochial administrator takes the place of a pastor in leading a parish. Our parish has had an administrator because the dismissal of a previous pastor was under review in Rome and was recently confirmed. I have now received from Bishop Jenky my appointment from administrator to pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish.

Pastors take possession of their parish by reciting the Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity in the presence of the people. These public declarations of faithfulness and fidelity are a witness to the parish and a sign of the pastor’s commitment and dedication to his mission.

Next weekend at the 10:30 am Mass, I will take canonical possession by reciting this Profession and Oath. By this action, I recommit myself to the people of this good parish and humbly offer my continued service to build up the Church in our community.

At the same time, I ask for a recommitment from you as well: You have a share in our parish mission. I ask for your prayers, for your continued service, and your continued support so our parish can continue to thrive. Your volunteerism, your enthusiasm, and your faithful participation are essential to our parish community.

July 11, 2010

This weekend there will be members of the Women’s Guild available before and after the 9:00 and 10:30 Masses Sunday morning to help parishioners register in this year’s parish directory. If you miss this opportunity, you can still register on your own before July 20th. Please see the instructions in the bulletin.

There are a few small projects that would be good to work on over the summer. If you are interested in volunteering for a little painting or for stripping and staining a wood table, please contact the parish office.

As we look forward to restriping our parking lot, I thank you for your respect of our parking lot by avoiding parking illegally. When the main lot is full, it takes a little more time to park in the Northmoor lot and walk over to the church. Thank you for making this extra effort.

July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day!

I am grateful for all the support that we have received for the Annual Diocesan Appeal. Because we exceeded our goal, we expect to receive back over $43,000 for our parish. While most of these funds will be used to pay down debt, some of these funds will be put toward restriping our parking lot this summer. I have scheduled this restriping to take place during the fourth week of July.

Once the restriping is complete, I will introduce the parish to the 11th commandment: Thou shalt not park illegally. While you will hear me joke about the 11th commandment over the summer, it is really a serious matter. Cars that are parked in fire lanes or outside marked spaces could prevent a fire truck or ambulance from responding in an emergency. It is also very rude and disrespectful to the disabled to park in between handicapped spaced in the area they use to access their vehicle.

As we move into July, I would like to recognize Red Heinz for all the work that he has done in maintaining our facilities. He has volunteered or worked at St. Vincent for many decades. As time has gone on, he has handed over more and more his duties to other parishioners. With the beginning of this month, we mark a more-or-less official retirement and offer our sincere thanks for his many years of service.

June 27, 2010

In the midst of the summer months, our parish celebration of Confirmation appears far away. However, we are preparing for Confirmation in early September.

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

If there are any adults in the parish who have not been confirmed, I invite you to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in this special sacrament. Those to be confirmed will receive an overview of the faith in preparation for this sacrament. Please contact the parish office if you are interested in being confirmed.

June 20, 2010

We recently hosted the Summer Catechetical Institute at St. Vincent de Paul. A number of speakers came to present on a variety of topics. As part of this institute, I gave a presentation on the priesthood in the Gospel of St. John. This presentation coincides with the close of the year of the priest.

I would be happy to repeat this presentation for anyone who would be interested. I will offer this talk on Wednesday, July 7th, at 7:00 pm in the parish hall.

As part of this presentation, I outline the various models of priesthood and the priestly duties found in the Old Testament. I then outline the ways in which the Gospel of John makes connections to the history of Israel as the priesthood is recreated in Jesus Christ.

June 6, 2010

About a year ago, Pope Benedict opened the Year of the Priest. Corpus Christi is a fitting day to celebrate the priesthood, as it is closely linked to the Mass and the Eucharist. Let us give thanks for the Body and Blood of Christ and the gift of the priesthood by which we share in this Most Blessed Sacrament!

In the bulletin, you will find a list of priests who have been associated with St. Vincent de Paul Parish. This list has been compiled by a parish volunteer and provides each of us with an opportunity to reach out with an expression of gratitude or a promise of prayers to these men who have served at the altar.

We give thanks to God for the ordination of Fr. Jim Pankiewicz and Fr. Paul Carlson. Fr. Carlson will begin his first assignment as the new chaplain at Peoria Notre Dame High School in the fall. Furthermore, we celebrate and congratulate Fr. John Eckert who will celebrate the 4:30 pm Mass on Saturday, June 12th as a Mass of Thanksgiving for his ordination in the diocese of Charlotte.

The Diocesan Summer Catechetical Institute takes place at St. Vincent’s on Friday and Saturday. Information about the schedule is available in the back of the church. Even if you have not signed up, you are welcome and encouraged to participate. Registrations will be accepted at the door.

May 30, 2010

Happy Memorial Day! The parish office will be closed on Monday.

St. Vincent de Paul Parish will turn fifty years old in 2012. I have been in conversation with some parishioners who are interested in making a 50th anniversary pilgrimage to Paris (where St. Vincent de Paul is buried) and Rome. I would like to receive feedback on the plans for a pilgrimage from parishioners who are interested in participating. If would like to participate, please join me Wednesday, June 2nd at 7:00 pm in the parish office for a discussion of the pilgrimage. If you are unable to attend but still interested in giving feedback, please contact the parish office and I will send you a copy of our pilgrimage survey.

Next weekend there will Women’s Guild members available Sunday morning to help parishioners register for the parish-wide directory. This new directory takes the place of the Women’s Guild directory and no dues are required to be listed in the directory. You can sign up on line on your own by following the instructions in the bulletin.

May 23, 2010

On May 27th, we will have the opportunity to thank and congratulate Mr. Mike Birdoes as he leaves us to become principal at Blessed Sacrament School in Morton and Mrs. Mary Davis as she retires at the end of the year. All are welcome to join us in the parish hall between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm.

St. Vincent de Paul School is listing the position of secretary for the main office. Interested persons should submit a resume to the parish or school office within the next two weeks.

We have recently notified school families of the financial aid they will be offered out of our school endowment. The amount of aid was determined by the assessment made by their FACTS application. Some families may have other circumstances that FACTS did not adequately assess. There is a limited amount of financial aid that the parish has budgeted for next year. Families who want to make a supplemental request should submit their request for additional aid with an explanation of their need as soon as possible.


St. Vincent de Paul Grade School is searching for a secretary to work in the school office. Duties include greeting visitors, answering phones and intercoms, maintaining personnel and student records, and assisting in the efficient running of the school office. Applicants must have the ability to electronically manage correspondence and databases. Interest persons must submit a resume to the school or parish office, highlighting both computer and office experience. Interviews will be conducted by Dr. James Minick in June.

May 16, 2010

After receiving the advice of our principal search committee, I am happy to announce that Dr. James Minick has been hired as our new principal at St. Vincent de Paul grade school. Dr. Minick holds a PhD in educational administration and has recently been serving as superintendent in Galva, Illinois. Dr. Minick has served in other capacities including principal, assistant principal for curriculum, and curriculum director. He has served in both Catholic schools and public school districts. His Catholic school experience includes serving as principal of Marquette High School in Ottawa, Illinois, and as a biology teacher in Davenport, Iowa. For many years, he collaborated with the Office of Catholic Schools in Peoria to develop our diocesan Catholic school curricula.

We salute Mr. Mike Birdoes who has served as our principal for the past nine years. He has been hired as principal at Blessed Sacrament grade school in Morton, and we wish him well on this transition. There will be an opportunity to publicly thank Mr. Birdoes on Thursday, May 27th from 5-7 pm in the parish hall. We will also express our thanks to Mary Davis for her many years of service at the same event on May 27th. All are welcome to attend.

May 9, 2010

We have received many pledges for the Annual Diocesan Appeal. I extend my personal thanks for the tremendous support that I have seen from our parishioners for our diocese and for our parish.

I also extend thanks and hearty congratulations to the many people who made this year’s play a success. The students who performed in Annie, Jr. did an excellent job. The parents and parishioners who supported them made it all possible. Well done!

Thanks to the many volunteers who have begun a new season of sprucing up our landscaping. The Planters and Pruners have already begun to clean up and trim the plants around the church. Your efforts are greatly appreciated by all!

Finally, thanks to Deacon Bob Myers who designed and built the new ambry we have in the sanctuary. The ambry is a repository for the holy oils that we receive from the Bishop each year. The ambry was installed on Holy Thursday and Deacon Bob was recognized at Mass on Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil. Please allow me to publicly recognize his contribution to our sanctuary before our entire parish. I know you will agree that he did a fantastic job!

May 2, 2010

Any clergy assignments are usually announced at the beginning of May. I take this opportunity to inform the parish that there will be no changes this year at St. Vincent de Paul. Fr. Schultz and I look forward to another year of grace here in our parish.

This weekend we conduct the Annual Diocesan Appeal. With your help we can reach our goal of $100,840, and even surpass it vigorously.

After having our parking lot inspected, I have asked to have holes in the lot patched and repaired. Eventually, we will have to look at resurfacing the lot. However, I must give my attention first to making up the shortfall from our recent construction project. As I mentioned in previous columns, the parish will not receive the full $4 million of pledged dollars from our recent campaign because economic conditions have made it difficult for some people to complete their pledges.

I need your help and I thank you for your generosity and your support to reduce our debt. Patches to our parking lot will help us get through until we can undertake a complete resurfacing at a later date.


Our principal search committee continues to review applications. Input has been received from parents, faculty, and education commission members regarding the qualities to look for in a candidate. The questionnaire is found at www.jgray.org/svdp/principal.html.

The members of the search committee include myself and Fr. Schultz, Theresa Burroughs (from the school faculty), Mark Walton and Jen Flaherty (from the education commission), Sharon Weiss (principal at St. Patrick School, Washington), and Jerry Sanderson (from the Office of Catholic Schools).

The search committee should conduct interviews and conclude our process in the next one to two weeks.


Regarding scandals in the Church...

The Catholic Church in the United States dealt with the painful and shameful scandal of sexual abuse about eight years ago. We have made much progress in this country and have implemented more thorough safeguards to secure the protection of young people. Sadly, this issue has resurfaced in other countries in Europe. This may have reopened this distressing subject once again in your mind or in conversations with others. I offer a few personal observations.

  • First, abuse of children should never be tolerated. The Church does not condone this behavior which is rightly called reprehensible.
  • Second, our Church is a divine institution, but is led by human beings who sometimes make mistakes. Priests and even bishops are not perfect.
  • Third, we do not find salvation in men but in our Savior. The reason we profess the Catholic faith does not depend on any one pastor, any one bishop, or even a particular Bishop of Rome. We believe in the Catholic Church because we have found faith in the Gospel and faith in the grace of salvation that comes from Jesus Christ.
Whenever the Church copes with scandals, I pray that we all draw strength from these truths.

April 25, 2010

We honor our students who have made their First Communion. They have worked hard in their yearlong preparations. Together, we congratulate these students on this important step in their journey of faith. Special thanks go to the parents and teachers who have assisted these students during their preparations.

Next week we will conduct the Annual Diocesan Appeal. I mentioned in last week’s bulletin that we have a shortfall from our construction project in the form of some campaign pledges that cannot be completed. Economic difficulties may mean that up to 10% of the dollars pledged may not be received. Furthermore, the parish was able to acquire two adjacent properties which were not part of the original construction budget.

Parishioners are generally asked to contribute 1/2 of 1% of their annual income to the ADA. In order to help us pay down debt, I ask parishioners to consider contributing 1% of your annual income. Pledges can be spread out over six months in order to make payment easier. For example, a family with an income of $50,000 could pledge $500 by making six monthly payments of $83.

Finally, every dollar received over our parish goal comes back to us at St. Vincent de Paul Parish.

April 18, 2010

This weekend we elect three members to our school’s Education Commission. Five excellent candidates have come forward to run for these positions. I thank you for taking time to register your vote for our Education Commission.

Because our First Communion will be on Saturday, April 24th, we will conduct the Annual Diocesan Appeal on May 1st and 2nd. Because of our support for our Catholic grade school and Peoria Notre Dame, the Diocese of Peoria has dropped our goal for this year by approximately $3,000 to $100,840.

I will ask each parishioner to join me in pledging to the ADA to help us go over our goal. The excess funds will help pay for our recent construction project. Our project cost somewhat more than planned, especially in view of the adjoining property we were able to acquire. At the same time, some parishioners are not able to complete their original pledge because of changes in their personal circumstances. The surplus from the ADA will help cover this gap. Thank you in advance for your support of our parish and school!

April 11, 2010

We will soon train new altar servers who will begin serving in June. Fourth grade students in our parochial school or CCD program have been invited to be trained. However, any boy or girl, fifth grade on up, is also invited to be trained. New servers will be reminded that they must wear solid color shoes and should arrive fifteen minutes early to set up for Mass.

I encourage our current servers to be attentive to the serving schedule. An absent server affects the celebration of Mass and leaves other servers to try to fill in for the one missing. The difficulty is compounded when more than one server is missing, leaving us short-handed regarding basic duties at Mass.

Servers are kindly asked to sign in before Mass. A server who is frequently delinquent may be removed from the schedule.

April 4, 2010

We wish everyone a very happy Easter in the joy of the Risen Christ! There are many blessings to be thankful for: It is a joy to welcome our visitors this weekend, both those who are returning "home" to Peoria, and those visiting us for the first time.

We should all express our gratitude to all the people who spent so much time helping us with our celebrations for Holy Week. These special Masses could not take place without the hard work of many volunteers who did so much to add to our celebrations.

Finally, please join me in offering a joyful welcome to the new Catholics who have joined the Church at the Easter Vigil. We were blessed with many people who went through the RCIA program to join our parish.

March 28, 2010

We wish everyone a fruitful Palm Sunday and a blessed beginning to Holy Week. Some practical reminders:

We have some additional time for confessions Tuesday evening and Thursday afternoon. There are no confessions and no afternoon Mass on Holy Saturday.

The Chrism Mass is celebrated at the Cathedral on Tuesday at 1:00 pm. At this Mass the priests of this diocese renew our priestly vows and the holy oils for the year are consecrated. This is a special ceremony that is celebrated only at the Cathedral and only once a year. Please attend if you are able.

Please note the special schedule for the Triduum. The evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday recalls the gift of the priesthood and the Eucharist. The Liturgy of the Passion on Good Friday recalls the Lord’s supreme sacrifice on the cross. Please join us Saturday night for the Easter Vigil. After blessing the new Easter candle and the baptismal font, we will welcome twenty-two persons into the Catholic Church. These special liturgies are an excellent way to bring your Lent to a close.

March 21, 2010

Next Sunday we will celebrate Palm Sunday. As we have done in the past, we will begin the solemn blessing of palms with procession in the parish hall at the 9:00 and 10:30 am Sunday Masses. If you are attending one of these two Masses next week, please go directly to the hall rather than the church for solemn Mass.

On Wednesday of Holy Week, please join us for the celebration of the Stations of the Cross at 2:15 pm. Our eighth grade will present the stations in the new gym.

A notice for PND families regarding Scrip: You, too, are eligible for tuition rebates through our parish Scrip program. Even if you have no children at our parish grade school, you are still welcome to sign up for Scrip and receive rebates which you can apply to your PND tuition. Registration forms are in the back of the church and instructions for signing up appear in today’s bulletin.

March 14, 2010

I wish everyone a pleasant spring as the weather grows warmer, the snow continues to melt, and we begin daylight savings time this weekend.

Congratulations to all of our scouts on their hard work this year. We have many scouts who have earned religious medals this year as part of their scouting program. These scouts were recognized by Bishop Jenky at the Diocesan Scout Mass last month. We will recognize them at our Parish Scout Mass this weekend at 9:00 am. Thank-you to the scouts also for hosting the donut Sunday this weekend.

We celebrate the feast of St. Patrick and St. Joseph this week. Because of the importance of the solemnity of St. Joseph, the law of abstinence is dispensed this Friday.

Next weekend, volunteers will be on hand after the Masses to talk about the Fr. Peyton Guild. Fr. Peyton promoted the family rosary and is now being considered for beatification and canonization. I encourage all who would like to support Fr. Peyton’s cause by offering your prayers to find out more about this effort next weekend.

March 7, 2010

This weekend we are conducting registration for new Kindergarten students at the school on Sunday from 8-12 noon. The school office can provide you with further information if you are interested in sending your pre-kindergarten through eighth grade student to our parish grade school.

We want to share the strengths of our school with you. You will find a brochure in the bulletin that offers additional information about our school as well as the activities and programs that we offer. It is important to share this information with the entire parish, since this is your school, and we all play a part in educating and raising our young people. Please feel free to share this brochure with other families. Additional copies can be obtained from the parish or school offices.

Would you like to see the inside of the school to learn more? I would be happy to give you a personal tour of our facility. I look forward to the opportunity of sharing our school’s strengths with an interested family or any parishioner who would like to see the inside of the building. If you would like a tour, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 691-3602 x260.

February 28, 2010

A reminder regarding our diocesan newspaper, the Catholic Post. If you haven’t turned in your subscription envelope, please do so as soon as possible. Extra envelopes can be found in the back of the church. If you have questions, please contact the parish office.

We receive many requests for Masses to be offered at St. Vincent de Paul. I am grateful for the devotion of our parishioners who remember their loved ones by asking for a Mass intention on their behalf. However, we receive so many requests that our Mass intentions are filled far into the future. If you would like to request a Mass on a specific date, please plan ahead as our schedules are typically filled eight to twelve months in advance.

While we have many Mass requests at this parish, I call your attention to the needs of our senior and retired priests. Some senior priests in our area do not receive Mass intentions since they have retired from their parishes. Occasionally we receive requests from these senior priests for any spare Mass intentions that we may have available. If you have several Masses to request, please consider allowing us to send some of your intentions to our retired priests. They are often able to say these Masses for your loved ones in a very timely manner.

February 21, 2010

In the coming weeks, I will invite our high school students to volunteer to help at Mass as ushers, greeters, lectors, and in a few cases as extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

Many of our grade school students assist at Mass as altar servers. Our servers are welcome and encouraged to continue serving at the altar as high school students. Nevertheless, many of our students decide to opt out of serving as high school students and have no other opportunity to assist at Mass. Inviting our young people to help as ushers, greeters, and lectors helps them transition into a more "adult" kind of service to the Church.

After they are trained, our Sunday 10:30 am Mass will become a "youth Mass" in the sense that our high school students would assist primarily at this Mass. High school students are invited to the orientation and training session at 1:00 pm on Sunday, March 7th after the last Sunday Mass.

February 14, 2010

The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. The regulations for fast and abstinence are published in the bulletin.

I encourage you to consecrate the Fridays of Lent by attending Stations of the Cross. The school will move children’s Stations to a different day, so I encourage families to come to Friday Stations with your children. Each Friday, we will have Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Confessions at 6:00 pm. Stations of the Cross followed by Benediction will take place at 7:00 pm. I hope to see a full church as we celebrate this excellent Lenten devotion.

Lent is a time to recommit ourselves to living out our faith and rooting out bad habits. I encourage each of us to make a renewed commitment to coming to Mass on time and staying through the end of Mass. Too often, people come late and leave early from Mass. This Lent is a time to go above and beyond to give God our best.

February 7, 2010

With the help of the Women’s Guild, we are pleased to offer a new way to support our parish and school through the use of Scrip. You may have already heard something about this program through the school from announcements earlier in the year. We are now ready to expand this program by making it available to the entire parish and school community.

Scrip generates income for our school by providing rebates for gift cards that are purchased for various merchants in town and around the country. After a family has registered for the program, gift cards may be purchased on-line, and rebates are automatically sent to our parish.

There is no cost to participate in this program. Families do not need to spend any more money on the goods and services that you already purchase. To benefit the school, a family only needs to change the way they make their purchases by ordering the appropriate gift cards in advance through our Scrip program.

The Women’s Guild is also making a portion of these rebates available to defray the cost of tuition. A family can apply their rebate to tuition at St. Vincent or Peoria Notre Dame. Other parishioners can dedicate their rebates to a specific school family, or to tuition assistance for needy families. If you have questions, please contact the parish or school. Forms are available outside the parish office.

January 31, 2010

Join us in celebrating Catholic School’s Week! There will be a Donut Sunday this weekend after the 9:00 and 10:30 AM Sunday Masses. Donuts will be served by our teachers and parishioners will have an opportunity to walk through the school and learn more about our ministry of Catholic education.

I am very pleased to have the cooperation of our principal and education commission in the ongoing work of continuing to improve our school. With their help, we have three initiatives that we are undertaking this spring for our school. Many of these efforts are not visible to the parish because they are “behind the scenes,” which is why I draw them to your attention here.

First, we will have a quality review as part of our accreditation with North Central Association. Our goals for continuing improvement as a school will be reviewed and refined. Second, we will bring in an expert from Two Rivers Professional Development Center to spend time with our middle school teachers. They will focus on effective teaching strategies and cooperation across our curriculum. Third, our principal and middle school teachers will continue their meetings with staff at Peoria Notre Dame High School. We will continue refining our curriculum to insure that our students are well prepared for high school.

January 24, 2010

I want to express a hearty thank-you to every parishioner who contributed to Haitian relief last weekend. Many people have been moved by the plight of the Haitian people in the aftermath of the earthquake and responded with great generosity. The special collection we took up was announced on the day of the collection, and we received contributions of approximately $20,000.

Additional contributions are welcome for those who wish to offer additional support. We will continue to forward any donations to Catholic Relief Services as they are received. Kindly make your checks out to the parish so we can deposit them and forward the entire contribution to the agencies providing direct aid.

January 17, 2010

I would like to express my appreciation to the committee I have asked to study our tuition and financial situation. For several months, members from our education commission and finance council have studied our own financial records as well as the tuition and financial strategies of other Catholic schools in our diocese.

As a result of our cost cutting efforts, we do not need to raise the tuition for the first child beyond the normal adjustment for inflation. The tuition for the second child is only 20% of the first child’s tuition and will be raised a few percent higher. On recommendation from the committee, no major increase is planned for the low tuition for the third child and so forth.

Two positives to keep in mind: First, we have been blessed to be able to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need. Families that receive financial aid are asked only to pay what they can afford. Any increases will not affect families in need. Second, our education commission has been studying a way to share the rebates we receive from Scrip cards (gift cards ordered through our school). By the next school year, we plan to allow families to apply these rebates to their child’s tuition. More information will following in the coming months.

January 10, 2010

With the Baptism of the Lord, we end the Christmas Season and return to ordinary time. As we make this transition, I extend my thanks to all who made this past Christmas such a special time. Thanks to our musicians and ministers who serve at Mass. Thanks also to those who decorated and those helped clean the church.

There is one last task: putting it all away for another year. Would you be willing to give us a hand Monday evening at 6:00 pm to put our decorations back into storage? All volunteers are welcome.

January 3, 2010

As we begin the spring semester, I urge our school families to take the time to consider applying for financial grants through the Diocese of Peoria for Catholic education. The diocese offers assistance through the John Lancaster Spalding scholarship fund to families with a financial need. These Spalding scholarships come from diocesan funds, not our own parish funds.

In order to qualify for this scholarship, a family needs to complete a FACTS form and provide information from your 2009 tax return. Applications must be submitted by February 15th, so I encourage families not to delay preparing your taxes for the previous year. Additional information will be available from the school or parish bulletin.

Beyond the Spalding scholarship, the parish provides additional funds from our school endowment to help families in need. We have been blessed to be able to meet 100% of the demonstrated financial need for families attending our parish grade school. These funds serve to make a Catholic education affordable for every family.

Read previous entries from 2009.

Read previous entries from 2008.

Read previous entries from 2007.

Read previous entries from 2006.