Bishop Hicks’ Monthly Column

Launching our 75th Jubilee

From podcasts and youth events to service and prayer cards, visit for the full list of events and activities surrounding the 75th anniversary.

A “jubilee” is a special anniversary, marking a certain time period. For example, a twenty-fifth anniversary is universally recognized as a silver jubilee, whereas the fiftieth is known as the golden jubilee. This month, we are officially launching the 75th Anniversary of the Diocese of Joliet, or the celebration of our diamond jubilee.

As they say, “diamonds are forever.” This celebration gives us the opportunity to honor our past, commemorate our present, and look forward to the future with hope. Our year-long celebration will officially begin in December 2023 and end in December 2024. However, we have a few things happening in November that I would like to share with you and encourage your participation.

On Monday, November 6, 2023, we launched the first episode of a 14-part podcast series produced specifically for our 75th anniversary. In our pilot episode, Fr. Tom Paul, the chair of the Jubilee planning committee, and I talked about different ways that you can participate in our anniversary celebration. If you are a podcast afficionado, just listen on your favorite app by searching “Faith Into Action.” Or you may try watching it on the diocesan YouTube channel. Either way, the links can always be found in the 75th Anniversary section of our website,, which can be read in English, Spanish, and Polish.

As we celebrate with great faith, hope, and love, I want to make sure we have many opportunities to pray together. A nine-day novena will begin on November 25, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This Novena of Grace is based on the writings of the patron saint of our diocese, St. Francis Xavier. For daily prayers and devotions, visit the website or see your Sunday bulletin.

The novena concludes on December 3, 2023. On that same day we will host an event at the Blanchette Catholic Center at 1 p.m., where I will bless a new statue of St. Francis Xavier. He will beautifully welcome employees and visitors at the main entrance to our diocesan offices to remind us of our missionary call to share our faith with all people.

Then, for an entire year we will celebrate in ways that highlight my vision of catechesis, evangelization, and faith into action:

  1. We will promote catechesis through faith formation to help the next generations know about Jesus and the Church. Through novenas, prayer cards, and lesson plans, we will grow the knowledge of our faith for all ages. We are blessed that our celebration is occurring in harmony with the three-year National Eucharistic Revival, which reminds us how the Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives.
  2. We will also continue to evangelize, which is needed to truly know Jesus and love Him. True evangelization is realized when we believe in our minds, hearts, and souls that Jesus is real: He loves us, and we love Him. Through liturgies, prayers, media posts, podcasts, printed calendars, and commemorative books, we will actively share our faith and love of Jesus, who gives us eternal life through His life, suffering, death, and resurrection.
  3. With catechesis and evangelization as our foundation, we will continue to put our faith into action. As Catholics, we serve the poor, the needy, and the marginalized. We speak for the unborn, the stranger, the abandoned, and those who are in most need of our care. As part of the 75th anniversary, I encourage all parishes to establish a day of service in the fall of 2024, responding to the various needs of each distinct community.

Jesus gave us such an incredible gift in the Church, and as baptized Christians, we are called to pass our faith on to the next generations. No one wants to belong to a Church that is merely surviving. Instead, we should have a burning desire to be a thriving Church that truly reflects God’s light and God’s love.

I encourage you to participate in some aspect of our 75th Jubilee during this next year. There is truly something for everyone, and I want each of you to know that YOU are a vital part of our celebration. So, together, rooted in Christ, let’s live out the theme of our 75th anniversary: founded in faith, called to witness, and sent forth to serve!

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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! 

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.

May 12 reflection by Deacon Jerry

Reflection for the 5th Tuesday of Easter

Acts 14:19-28 —John 14:27-31a

    Todays’ reading from the Acts of the Apostles is a continuation from Monday’s reading. Paul and Barnabas were in Iconium spreading the word of God, and both the Gentiles and the Jews along with the religious leaders were planning at attack and stone them. They both fled to the Lycaonian cites of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding countryside continuing to proclaim the Good News.

    In today’s reading in Acts these same Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived in the Lycaonian cities and with their false teachings won over the crowds. This crowd and the Jewish leaders stone Paul, drag him out of the city and leave him for dead.

   The disciples gathered around Paul, he got up and entered the city. The following day he and Barnabas left for Derbe where they continued to proclaim the Good News of Jesus and the number of disciples grew. 

    Paul never gives up to matter the cost, even if it meant death, his mission, vocation, was to spread and tell anyone who would listen of all the good works of Jesus and what his relationship with Jesus was. His efforts, his passion, his drive strengthened the spirit of himself and of all the disciples that had converted and followed him.  We read in this passage that Paul urged and encouraged them to persevere in the faith saying; “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God”

    No truer words can be spoken and resonate with us to this very day. With our shelter in place directive, businesses, schools, places of worship all closed we feel the torment of this altered state of life. But Paul’s words of preserving in faith, and enduring hardships, difficult, as they may seem, should also lift our spirits. The darkness that we are experiencing is slowly fading, becoming moment by moment a little brighter. We will be able to gather again in small groups, socially and spiritually at some point in time. We just have to trust, and persevere to the truths that we believe in and in medical science that the church embraces. 

    A little spiritual food for thought as we continue to slowly emerge out of today’s     darkness and into the light that is Christ.

 Stay safe, pray, exercise, and have a blessed week.

Deacon Jerry

    Today we celebrate the Feast Day of Saints Nereus and Achilleus. Not being familiar with these two Saints I have included a very brief piece from Loyola Press on them. They both persevered in their faith and suffered the gravest hardship, subsequently entering into eternal life and communion with God the Father. 

Saints Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs

Roman soldiers made good martyrs


Little is known about Saints Nereus and Achilleus, but we know is engraved in stone. Damasus, one of the first popes and later a saint himself, wrote the epitaph for the tombstone of Saints Nereus and Achilleus. In this epitaph he proclaimed that it was love for Christ and a desire to witness to their new faith that inspired Nereus and Achilleus to “throw away their shields, their armor, and their bloody spears.”

It seems that both men were Roman soldiers who obeyed orders in the persecution of Christians until they themselves were converted to Christianity. Because Christians were not allowed to bear arms, they resigned from the emperor’s army and escaped from Rome. Eventually Nereus and Achilleus were captured and put to death for their beliefs. They were among the first martyrs to be venerated as saints.


As in the case of many early martyrs, the Church clings to its memories though the events are clouded in the mists of history. It is a heartening thing for all Christians to know that they have a noble heritage. Our brothers and sisters in Christ have stood in the same world in which we live—militaristic, materialistic, cruel and cynical—yet transfigured from within by the presence of the Living One. The heroes and heroines who have gone before us marked by the sign of faith and the wounds of Christ enliven our own courage.

May 11 reflection by Deacon Kurt

Monday May 11, 2020

Acts 14:5-18

John 14:21-26

Happy Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter! I pray everyone and their loved ones and friends are safe and well. I’ll tell you, I had a slight sore throat and some heaviness in my chest on Thursday evening and Friday for most of the day and it kinda scared me. I thought, is this the beginning of me getting sick, and I began thinking about having to get tested (and how to go about doing that), calling my doctor, going to the hospital…it was quite unnerving. I was relieved, when Friday afternoon I began feeling better. And I felt foolish for, in my own mind, over-reacting to the situation. I prayed about it, asking God for calm and peace and the fortitude to accept and handle whatever comes my way. And I think it’s a good thing to pray about that normally, asking for the ability to accept whatever situation we are in and know, I mean really know and believe, that the Lord is with us and will carry us through that situation. Not worrying about, “what am I” going to do about this, but “what are we” (ourself and the Lord) going to do to get through the situation.

 I want to focus on the reading from Acts today and the power of the Holy Spirit which filled Paul and Barnabas. As they preached and healed throughout their travels they came upon places where they were revered and placed they were revilied, as we see in today’s passage and in tomorrow’s (feel free to read ahead). And it struck me how similar to Jesus’ travels this was and how similar our own faith travels are. When we speak to people about our faith, our words can be met with many different reactions. Today, we see the people of Lystra treat Paul and Barnabas as the Greek Gods Zeus and Hermes, which angered the two Apostles. As we see so often in the Acts of the Apostles, these followers of Jesus don’t want adulation, in fact they considered it more of an honor to be persecuted in the name of God. So what do they do here, they speak in order to take the focus off thmselves and place it where it belongs to God and Jesus, the living God. 

My friends, in this time in our world where spreading the word of God is so important and helping those who don’t know Jesus or who have fallen away from Him, to trust that the love of God is there for their taking as relief of their troubles, we cannot become discouraged. For just as Paul and Barnabas were filled with the Holy Spirit, so are we, that exact same Holy Spirit who gave them strength and wisdom and the words to speak is in us as well. We can speak the Good News, we can heal the affilicted with our words and our actions. We too must have the faith that Paul and Barnabas did in Jesus and in the Holy Spirit, that we have the gifts to bring others to Christ. Reach out to those whom you know could use a shot of Jesus’ love and peace. Give them a call, drop them a note, send them a Holy Card or a old photo of the two of you together. We can all be missionaries right now, even though we can’t go anywhere. Use the tools we do have for communication to “reach out and touch someone.” How relevant this old marketing phrase is now, now more than ever. Stationary missionaries or I think today the term is “intentional disciples”. We can evangelize, we can heal, the words and actions of love, mercy and kindness can spread the Good News in very powerful ways.

So let’s make it a point this week to “reach out and touch someone” with the love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Deacon Kurt

Do not let your heart be troubled by Deacon Len

Friday, 4th week of Easter 05/08/20

Do not let your heart be troubled” = The Lord works in mysterious ways.

Today’s Gospel passage from John is very familiar to most of us.  We often hear it at funerals and it gives us encouragement in time of despair.  At funerals we come to realize that Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself”, so that we know our loved ones are in the presence of the Lord, and although we miss them, they are in heavenly peace.  This passage is very comforting in that time of despair and loss.

This passage, however, is also meant for us in any troubling time.  Jesus clearly tells us not to let our hearts be troubled.  We let our hearts be troubled when we can’t see the “way” to better days.  We can’t see the path to happiness.  We can’t see “how this will ever work out.”  It is at these very troubling times that Jesus tells us, just as he told Thomas, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve felt cornered.  I’ve felt there was no way out.  I’ve felt like, “well, I’ve really done it this time” or “why is this happening to me?”.  (Well, I COULD tell you, but this would be a much longer reflection😉) Each of those times in my life, when I not only prayed to the Lord, but I completely abandoned myself to Him, saying “let THY will be done”, things worked out to be better than I ever could have imagined.  They worked out better than if I had control of the situation.

The Lord DOES work in mysterious ways.  The Lord CAN make the most troubling situations evolve into joy, happiness and peace.  We just have to let Him.  We actually have to get out of the way, because HE is the WAY.  It’s only troubling and frustrating to us because WE are trying to fix it or rearrange it or cover it up.  We can’t fix the Lord’s plan.  We can’t rearrange His plan for us.  And, we can’t hide or cover up anything from Him.

No matter who you are, this pandemic is probably starting to wear on you.  Even if we started out trying to be positive and trying to “do our part”, it’s starting to get unsettling, to say the least.  At first, we might have thought it to be “temporary”.  We thought, well, “I can do this for a couple of weeks or even months”.  But now there is a feeling of no end in sight.  We’re being told that it’s not just going to go back to “normal” one day.  It’s going to take time and change.  We are not given a timetable, so there’s no end in sight.  Our hearts are troubled.

Friends, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  You have faith in God; have faith also in Me.”  I can’t claim to know how this is all going to work out.  I can’t even claim to know how you feel, or how difficult this is on you.  But I do know that if we trust in the Lord and listen to Him, He will show us the Way, the Truth and the Life.  He will not abandon us, even if we have abandoned Him.  We only need to get out of the way and stop trying to control what is not ours to control.

While the politicians are busy pointing fingers and blaming each other, we should be busy praising the Lord for His goodness and trusting in Him.  Every time we think about what we don’t have and what we are missing, we should block that thought with something we do have and something for which we are grateful.  After all, if we are disheartened by what we don’t have, doesn’t that mean that we have taken for granted all that He has given us?

I miss going out to a restaurant on a Friday night or a Sunday morning after mass.  But I am grateful for the quiet meals with my wife with no distractions.  I miss family gatherings for Easter, Mother’s Day, birthdays and other special occasions.  But I am grateful to have people in my life to celebrate and that I truly miss and love.  I miss being with each of you at mass and celebrating around the table of the Lord.  But I am grateful that The Lord brought us together in the first place.  I miss what I have become accustomed to in my daily life.  But I am grateful for all that The Lord has given me.  I have faith, hope and love.  I have faith in The Lord.  I have hope that what is to come is better than what we have now.  And the greatest of these is love.  I am grateful for His love, which I experience through all of you.

Easter Blessings and Peace to you, your families and friends.  And a very special Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers, Grandmothers, Great-Grandmothers, Godmothers, pseudo-mothers and all women who show us tender maternal love.

Deacon Len

May 7 reflection by Deacon Dan

In our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, synagogue officials ask if anyone would like to speak after hearing the readings of the day.  Paul took advantage of this opportunity and began to speak about salvation history linking Moses to David to Jesus Christ.  Paul, who was one of the most outspoken critics of Jesus, is now living out Christ’s commandment to share the Good News in every corner of the world.


We are all called to share the truth about Christ – perhaps not as missionaries like Paul, but we are commanded to teach our friends and family.  This is not an easy request, but Jesus told every one of us do so.


Paul took many risks with his preaching.  Some of the Jewish leaders may have been fascinated to hear about the true Messiah and were moved to conversion, others felt Paul was guilty of blasphemy and should be punished.  When we take the opportunity to share our faith with others, we too, are taking risks.  Our friends and family may feel uncomfortable, or irritated, but we need to take the opportunity to plant seeds and pray that they land on fertile soil.


For the last 6 months, I have been working with the Augustine Institute (AI) in Denver.  The AI is creating some incredible Catholic content to make the process of sharing the Good News easy through first class videos, talks and teaching materials.  Yesterday, the AI released a new series called The SEARCH, to help non-believers and those who do not affiliate with any religion understand the answers to the key questions in life: Why am I here?  Is there really a God?  Why is Church important?


St. Raphael has purchased access to The SEARCH and all AI material for all parishioners.  To access this, go to the St. Raphael website homepage and click on the box: FORMED: On Demand.  I highly recommend you take a few minutes today to explore FORMED and to watch the first episode of The SEARCHThere will be additional episodes each of the next 6 weeks.


We are all in search of answers, just as God is in search of our hearts.  I’m grateful that St. Raphael is providing tools to help each of us on our journey.


May God Bless each of you.


– Deacon Dan