Children’s Liturgy of the Word is back!

Sunday at the 8:00 am Mass, children ages 4 through grade 2 have the opportunity to participate in Children’s Liturgy of the Word. Children are led out of church before the First Reading and return Preparation of the Gifts. During that time, kids hear the readings on their level, listen to a homily, pray the Prayers of the Faithful, and the Creed. There is no registration necessary. Listen for Father to ask the children who would like to participate to come forward during the 8:00 am mass. 

If you would like to be part of this rewarding ministry please Contact Jenn Pfundstein at jennpfun@yahoo.com or 630-780-8336 

Bishop Hicks’ Monthly Column

April 2022

Lenten Pruning Leads to Easter Glory

Recently, I stopped by a big home improvement store. The garden center was bustling with people shopping for flowers and plants. Happily,   I sighed and thought, “Ah, spring is in the air!”

One of my favorite images in the Bible is that of the garden. It not only reminds us that we reap what we sow. But also, it all begins in the Garden of Eden with the creation of Adam and Eve and then their eventual fall from grace. Jesus experiences deep prayer,  agony, and betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion. At the resurrection,  Mary Magdalene is the first to see the risen Christ, but she does not recognize him, “supposing him to be the gardener”  (John 20:15). Throughout Scripture,  gardens are a place to encounter the mystery of God. They are places of suffering,   death and most importantly,    new life.

Saying all this, let me acknowledge that I do not have a naturally green thumb. I admire people who possess that gift. Regardless, I am starting to dabble in some basic gardening.

At the bishop’s residence in Joliet where I live, I have made the decision to have some large trees cut down in my backyard. The reason I am having them removed is not because I am “anti-tree.” On the contrary, I love trees. However,  there are so many in my backyard, that they have created a canopy over the yard through which no sunlight can penetrate. As a result, instead of grass, my backyard is basically a plot of dirt that,  when it rains, turns into a muddy mess and at worst a swamp. As we remove a few of the trees, my hope is that the sun may shine through the remaining ones and that grass,  flowers, and plants may return to sprout, grow and flourish.

Scripturally, Jesus reminds us that gardens need to be pruned so that they may produce fruit: “He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit”  (John 15:3). In the Catholic Church, spiritual pruning is not a negative exercise.  Instead, it helps our spiritual growth by removing whatever inhibits or prevents us from growing in healthy and holy ways.

Perhaps that is a good way to look at these past 40 days. Lent provides us the time to cut down and prune some things in our lives that prevent God’s light from shining on and through us. We do so, specifically during Lent, with our acts of penance, prayer, and almsgiving.

Continuing this theme of gardening around my house, late last fall I planted over 50 tulip bulbs around the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After I planted them, I have constantly wondered, “Did the squirrels dig them up and eat them?” “Will  they blossom and what color will they  be?”  “Will  the Blessed Mother  enjoy  them?”  Every day,  I  find myself eagerly awaiting these tulips to colorfully burst through the soil.

This is an act of hope! While I still cannot see the flowers,   I eagerly anticipate their arrival. We, too, wait with faith and hope to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior at Easter and boldly proclaim that he is not dead. He is not still in the ground. He is risen!

The lingering question is, “Why do we spend time at garden centers and in our own gardens,  planting and caring for flowers and plants?” It is partially because they are tangible signs of beauty, hope, and life. As  St.  Alphonsus  Liguori  rightly  noted,  “When we see a beautiful garden or a beautiful flower, let us think that there we behold a ray of the infinite beauty of God, who has given existence  to  that object.”

As we come to the end of this  Lenten time of pruning in our own spiritual gardens,  let us approach Easter with great joy and enthusiasm. In other words,  with springtime hope,  let us continue to search for and bask in the risen life of Christ, for he truly fills our world and lives with light, beauty, and new life.

Interested in helping with local mission trips?

Jordan River Farm is a ministry through the Joliet Diocese. The Service Ministry of St. Raphael Church is looking into creating a team of adult volunteers to assist with this effort. We would begin with a daylong mission trip. Activities would include painting and repairing homes, prayer and fellowship. If you are interested in joining the team contact Barry O’Donnell at the Service Ministry Office

Online giving is getting easier

Our Online Giving is getting an upgrade to a newer, easier-to-use platform! If you currently give online, you will soon be receiving an email with instructions on how to log into the new system. Best of all, your existing payment and donation information will be migrated over so you will not have to set up your gifts again! Keep an eye on your email for more information coming very soon. 

Ionization sanitation system used in Church

We are delighted to announce that on Thursday, August 20th, we installed a needlepoint ionization sanitation system in our Church.  The system works with the overhead units and the technology works to safely clean the air inside the building.  Bipolar ionization is capable of killing viruses that are spread through droplets from coughing and sneezing as well as the germs that live on surfaces where an infected person has made contact.

In this case needlepoint bipolar ionization is a multi-purpose solution for targeting germs within a building.  After 30 minutes the overall average decrease in an active virus is 99.89%.  These units will have multiple benefits for our Parish Community. Please click here to read additional information on the system.

RPM Events & Trips

Through RPM teens will also have the opportunity to experience nationwide conferences like NCYC (National Catholic Youth Conference) and the Steubenville Conference, which have the best speakers, music, workshops, and thousands of other Catholic teens in attendance. These weekends have been very transformational for those who have attended! 

Join us for our annual summer mission trip! Each year we go for a week somewhere new to serve those in need. Projects include extensive painting, building wheelchair ramps, fixing decks/porches, yard work, and other house repairs. The times we aren’t working at our resident’s home we are enjoying free time or the fun Jesus centered programing. It’s a life-changing week not only for the resident you serve, but for you as well! 

Contact

Chris Traub at (630) 615-7609 or ctraub@st-raphael.com

Spiritual Direction

Spiritual direction is “help given by one Christian to another which enables that person to pay attention to God’s personal communication to him or her, to respond to this personally communicating God, to grow in intimacy with this God, and to live out the consequences of the relationship.” (William A. Barry and William J. Connolly, The Practice of Spiritual Direction)

  • Spiritual direction focuses on religious experience. It is concerned with a person’s actual experience of a relationship with God.
  • Spiritual direction is about a relationship. The religious experience is not isolated, nor does it consist of extraordinary events. It is what happens in an ongoing relationship between the person and God. Most often this is a relationship that is experienced in prayer.
  • Spiritual direction is a relationship that is going somewhere. God is leading the person to deeper faith and more generous service. The spiritual director asks not just “what is happening?” but “what is moving forward?”
  • The real spiritual director is God. God touches the human heart directly. The human spiritual director does not “direct” in the sense of giving advice and solving problems. Rather, the director helps a person respond to God’s invitation to a deeper relationship.

Please contact Deacon Kurt, 630-615-7607, regarding more information on obtaining a Spiritual Director.