Merry Merry Merry Merry Merry Merry Merry Merry Merry Merry Merry Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas Christmas
Failure, Is it Neccesary?
Friends for Life
From the Bishop
schools is one of
the most enjoyable
parts of my job as
bishop. I revel in the
sense of purpose I find, the positive
atmosphere among teachers and
students, and the opportunity to do
a little teaching myself.
Next to its sacramental life, Catholic education
is the greatest gift that God enables
the Catholic Church to provide. Without
knowing Jesus Christ and being formed in
His way of life, the human person cannot
reach his or her fullest potential. Nor can
the Church be an effective force for goodness
in the world.
Of course, Christian formation can be
accomplished through formats other than
the Catholic school. Properly organized
and conducted, however, the Catholic
school functions as a unique community of
faith and love, serving both as an extension
of the nuclear family and a localization
of the larger Church. There may be
alternatives to Catholic schools. There is no
The face of Catholic education in the
United States has changed dramatically in
many ways over the past 40 years. Three
changes in particular have had a negative
effect. These changes are interwoven.
The first change is the reduction of religious
personnel. Women and men religious
have made an inestimable contribution
to the life of the Catholic Church and her
members in this country over a very long
period. No measure of gratitude is adequate.
The absence of these teachers and
administrators in our schools today makes
achieving their Catholic mission more chal-
lenging and increases their cost.
Increased cost, naturally, is the second
major change. Nevertheless, even if our
schools were still staffed by large numbers
of religious sisters and brothers, costs
would still be much higher than in the past.
Class sizes would be smaller, technological
improvements would be instituted and the
salaries and benefits for the staff, no matter
their life vocations, would be higher.
The secularization of our culture is the
third, perhaps less obvious change. The
force of this secularization, coupled with the
loss of religious personnel, makes it harder
every day to fulfill the mission of Catholic
education: namely, to form disciples of
Jesus Christ who can bring His presence
into the world.
These changes, mixed together, mean
that fewer Catholic parents are choosing
Catholic education for their children.
(Some parents, inexplicably, allow their
children to make the decision.) And many
of those who do choose Catholic schools
are not committed to the mission just mentioned.
For them, a private education with a
Catholic label is sufficient.
In order to strengthen Catholic schools,
these three changes and their effects have
to be reversed.
First, we need to recommit ourselves
to the mission of Catholic education. That
means promoting religious vocations, providing
more intense formation for lay staff,
helping parents and students understand
and subscribe to the mission, and making
discipleship the true focus of everything in
Second, we need to increase the number
of Catholic children enrolled in Catholic
schools, even if that means starting more
schools (instead of closing them). We need
to help Catholic parents appreciate how
great an act of love providing a Catholic
education for their children is. Even with
that appreciation, many families cannot
afford the full cost. A great push for tuition
assistance is needed. Our diocese’s
Catholic Education Foundation is an
excellent vehicle for generating funds for
tuition grants. Everyone needs to support
this enterprise, because every child who
receives a Catholic education benefits the
whole Church everywhere.
None of this will be easy, as it seemed
to be in the 1950s and 1960s when
most of the Catholic children of my
generation went to Catholic schools.
Precisely because the task seems so
daunting, it must be pursued vigorously.
Indeed, great effort and sacrifice are
already being demonstrated by parents,
teachers, administrators, pastors and
For years, Catholic schools have
formed young people in a major way to
follow Christ as members of His Church
and society. They have served as a partner
with parents and parishes to create a
consistent environment of faith. They have
helped to integrate people from disparate
backgrounds into the one body of Christ.
It hasn’t always been perfect. What is
this side of heaven? That’s not a reason
to settle for less or even to throw in the
towel. Besides, too much is at stake.
Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and
the life. He came to set people free from
sin and eternal emptiness. More than
ever, our society and our Church require
disciples of Jesus who are well formed,
thoroughly catechized and deeply com-
mitted to be a light to the world.
Bishop R. Daniel Conlon
Diocese of Joliet
Christ is our Hope
isitar las escuelas católicas es una de las cosas que
más disfruto en mi labor como obispo. Disfruto en
el sentido que encuentro un ambiente positivo entre
estudiantes y profesores y la oportunidad en que yo
ponga en práctica mis habilidades de enseñanza.
Después de su vida sacramental, la
educación católica es el mayor regalo
que Dios ofrece a la Iglesia católica
para dar a los demás. Sin llegar a
conocer a Jesucristo y sin haber sido
formado en su estilo de vida, el ser
humano no puede alcanzar su potencial
al máximo.Y la Iglesia no puede ser una
fuerza de bondad efectiva en el mundo.
Por supuesto que la formación
cristiana se puede alcanzar por medio
de otros modos que no sean a través
de la Escuela Católica. Propiamente
organizada y conducida, sin embargo,
las funciones de las Escuelas Católicas
como una comunidad única de fe
y amor, sirviendo tanto como una
extensión del núcleo familiar como una
localización de una Iglesia en general.
Tal vez existan alternativas a escuelas
católicas. Sin embargo, no substitutas.
El rostro de la educación Católica
en los Estados Unidos ha cambiado
dramáticamente de muchas maneras
durante los últimos 40 años. Tres
cambios en particular han tenido un
efecto negativo. Estos cambios están
El primer cambio es la reducción de
personal religioso. Mujeres y hombres
religiosos han hecho una contribución
inestimable en la vida de la Iglesia
católica y sus miembros han trabajado
en este país por un largo periodo de
tiempo. No hay forma alguna de poder
agradecer adecuadamente a todos
ellos. Por eso, la ausencia de estos
administradores en nuestras escuelas
católicas en estos tiempos hace que la
misión Católica sea más difícil y que los
costos de la educación aumenten.
Un aumento en el costo,
naturalmente, es el segundo cambio
significativo. Sin embargo, aun si
nuestras escuelas contaran con un
gran número de hermanos y hermanas
religiosas trabajando en ellas, los
costos aun serian bastante altos. El
número de alumnos por clase sería
menor, actualizaciones tecnológicas
tendrían que implementarse, los
salarios y beneficios de los empleados,
sin importar su vida vocacional serían
La secularización de nuestra cultura
es la tercera, tal vez sea este un
cambio menos obvio. La fuerza de esta
secularización, unida a la pérdida de
personal religioso, hace muy difícil el
cumplir con la misión de la Educación
Católica, llamada a formar discípulos
de Jesucristo que puedan traer su
presencia a este mundo.
Estos cambios combinados, significa
que menos padres de familia católicos
se decidan por una educación católica
para sus hijos. (Algunos padres,
inexplicablemente, permiten que sus
hijos tomen esta decisión.) Y muchos
de los que se deciden por Escuelas
Católicas no están comprometidos con
la misión recién mencionada. Para ellos,
una educación privada con la etiqueta
de católica es suficiente.
Con el fin de reforzar las escuelas
Católicas, estos tres cambios y sus
efectos tienen que ser revertidos.
Primero, necesitamos comprometernos
a la misión de la Educación Católica.
Eso significa promover vocaciones
religiosas, proveer una formación más
intensa para los empleados laicos,
ayudar a los padres y estudiantes a
entender y suscribirse a la misión, y
hacer del discipulado, el verdadero
enfoque de todo en nuestras escuelas.
Segundo, necesitamos incrementar el
número de niños católicos que asisten a
Escuelas Católicas, aun si esto significa
comenzar más escuelas (en lugar de
cerrarlas). Necesitamos ayudar a los
padres de familia católicos realizar
el gran acto de amor que harían al
proveer a sus hijos con una educación
católica. Aun con esa apreciación
por la educación católica, muchas
familias no pueden alcanzar el costo
total. Es necesario un gran empuje a la
asistencia financiera para las matriculas.
La oficina de Fondos para la Educación
Católica de la Diócesis de Joliet es un
excelente recurso para generar fondos
para becas escolares. Todos necesitan
apoyar este proyecto, ya que por cada
niño que recibe educación católica
beneficia a toda la Iglesia en cualquier
Nada de esto será fácil, como al
parecer lo fue entre los años 1950
y 1960 cuando la mayoría de niños
católicos de mi generación asistían
a escuelas Católicas. Precisamente
porque la tarea parece tan abrumadora,
debe de seguirse vigorosamente. En
realidad, padres de familia, profesores,
administradores, pastores y otros que
apoyan la misión ya están demostrando
grandes esfuerzos y sacrificios.
Por años, las escuelas católicas han
formado jóvenes de tal manera que
sigan a Cristo, como miembros de su
Iglesia y sociedad. Ellos han servido
como compañeros de padres de
familia y de las parroquias para crear
un ambiente consistente de fe. Ellos
han ayudado a personas de diferentes
orígenes a integrarse al Cuerpo de
Esto no ha sido siempre perfecto.
¿Qué es este lado del cielo? Esa no
es razón para conformarse con menos
y menos aún, darse por vencidos.
Además, hay demasiado en juego.
Jesucristo es el Camino, la Verdad
y la Vida. El llegó a liberar al mundo
del pecado y de un vacío eterno. Más
que nunca, nuestra sociedad y nuestra
Iglesia requiere discípulos de Jesús
que estén bien formados, enteramente
catequizados y profundamente
comprometidos a ser una luz para el
Obispo R. Daniel Conlon
Diócesis de Joliet
Cristo es nuestra
2 Christ is our Hope / December 2011 / Dioceseofjoliet.org
Table of Contents
6 Parenting Journey
This bullying has to stop
7 Marriage Matters
8 Catholic Life
Failure, Is it Neccesary?
A Light for Us All
12 Ask the Priest
13 Catholic Charities
Friends for Life
14 Saint of the Month
St. Francis Xavier
16 Spiritual Fitness
18 Living Life while Dying
A deacon battles cancer
22 Making Heavenly Music
24 Facing Sorrow with Faith
26 Gift of Christmas
28 Reflexiones de fe
La Luz que
29 Local News
31 Last Word
The Magazine of the Catholic Diocese of Joliet
Most Reverend R. Daniel Conlon
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS
Volume 4: Issue 9
Miguel Moreno, Monica Harness
Rev. Dwight Ezop
Patrick M. O’Brien
PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Elizabeth Martin Solsburg
DIRECTOR OF CUSTOM PUBLISHING/
Christ is Our Hope (USPS 25288) is a membership
publication of the Catholic Diocese of Joliet, 101 W. Airport
Road, Romeoville, IL 60446-6527. Published monthly
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all subscription information and address changes to: Christ
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Road, Romeoville, IL 60446-6527 ©Christ is Our Hope
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broadcast, rewritten or otherwise reproduced or distributed
in whole or in part without prior written authority of the
Diocese of Joliet and/or FAITH Publishing ServiceTM .
For reprint information or other questions regarding use
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For subscription information
Please call (815) 834-4060
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY
NEW YEAR FROM ALEXIAN BROTHERS
A Healthy Community Begins with Alexian Brothers.
© 2011 Alexian Brothers Health System
Diocese Donates More Than $380,000 to the
Pontifical Mission Societies
The diocese contributed $383,457 to the
Pontifical Mission Societies during last year’s special
collection at the parishes. The money goes to
support about 1,500 mission dioceses around the
world. “I write to convey the prayerful thanks of
this Congregation to you and to the faithful of the
Diocese of Joliet for the gifts and sacrifices oered
during the year 2010 …” said the Most Reverand
Ferando Filoni, the prefect for the Congregation for
the Evangelization of Peoples, in an Oct. 10 letter to
Bishop R. Daniel Conlon. The money also went to
support the next generation of priests and help in
educating children about the Gospel in the poorest
places in the world.
Mary Hostert, a parishioner at St. Joseph Parish in
Joliet, prays the rosary in the recently constructed
prayer garden on the church grounds.
St. Joseph Parish in Joliet
Builds Prayer Garden
For those in downtown Joliet who need a place to
pray outside in a beautiful setting, St. Joseph Parish
has built something for you. Father Tim Andres, O.
Carm., thought of the idea to build a prayer garden
to make use of unused space that was the back yard
of the rectory between the rectory and the parish.
The space was mainly mud and grass, but Father
Andres envisioned something dierent and more
“I thought we could use a place where people
could come and spend in meditation and in prayer
in the beauty of God’s creation,” said Father Andres,
who celebrated his 25th anniversary of his priestly
ordination on Nov. 27 at the parish. “We have an
adoration chapel. We have an incredibly beautiful
church. But I thought we could find a place within
all the cement of an inner-city parish downtown
with all the streets around us and no grass where
people could be in the presence of God … and
also a place where they can meditate and seek the
intercession of certain saints.”
There are six dedicated prayer stations in the
garden, which encourage people to pray to the following
Catholics: Blessed John Paul II, St. Faustina
Kowalska, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, St. Teresa of
Avila, St. Andre Bessette, and Blessed Anton Martin
The garden was dedicated at the end of October,
and it was built through donations raised by those
who bought personalized bricks, which commemo-
rate the memory of past and present parishioners,
friends and supporters of the parish. Mike Dudek,
a parishioner, alumnus of the class of 1984 from
St. Joseph School and a landscape designer, helped
shape Father Andres’ vision into a plan that Jim
Phelps Landscaping brought into reality.
Bishop Conlon Meets Volunteers, Thanks
Donors at Sacred Music Event
The diocesan Catholic Education Foundation
thanked its dedicated volunteer community in
October by showcasing some of the best musical
talent from area Catholic schools. St. Petronille
Parish in Glen Ellyn was the site of an evening
of sacred music featuring the Benet Academy
Madrigal Singers. Also headlining the performance
were student and professional vocalists from
Catholic parishes in Woodridge, Wheaton, Glen
Ellyn and Lockport. The music was arranged and
choreographed by Father Gerald Riva, pastor of St.
Scholastica, Woodridge. Bishop R. Daniel Conlon
was on hand to greet donors and volunteers from
parishes and schools throughout the diocese. The
event was aimed to introduce the new bishop of
the diocese, to express appreciation to thousands
of donors who support diocesan Catholic schools,
and to celebrate Catholic education with numerous
volunteers and philanthropists in the area.
The event was hosted by St. Petronille’s pastor,
Father James Dougherty, and school principal, Dr.
Mary Kelly. The Catholic Education Foundation
distributes more than $1 million dollars each year
in need-based scholarships to the 55 Catholic
grade schools and high schools of the diocese. For
further information, contact the foundation, at
(815) 834-4023, or review their Facebook page or
Priests from Around
Diocese Gather During Convocation
Priests from around the diocese gathered for several
days in St. Charles in early October at Pheasant
Run Resort in a sort of mini-convention known as
a Priests’ Convocation. These convocations are held
every two years in the diocese, and they are a time
for fellowship and spiritual renewal.
“The convocation is an opportunity for the
priests of the diocese to grow in our fraternity as a
presbyterate, united in and with Bishop Conlon,”
said Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Siegel. “It is unique in
that there is very little business discussed. Rather
we come together to pray, reflect on our ministry
and enjoy each other’s company as we share meals
and times of fellowship. As we left the convocation
this year, I felt we were strengthened in our
unity as brothers in Christ as well as refreshed and
renewed to serve the Lord and our people with
greater zeal and dedication.”
One of the speakers was Father J. Ronald Knott,
a former director of the Vocation Oce for the
Archdiocese of Louisville and the director of the Institute
for Priests and Presbyterates at St. Meinrad School
of Theology. He spoke about the need for fostering
unity among priests in harmony with the bishop.
Another speaker was Cardinal Francis George,
OMI, who talked about the Second Vatican Council.
“[Cardinal George] exhorted us to continue the
vision of the council and to be aware of the cultural
climate in which the council was initially interpreted,”
said Father Steven Borello, from Notre Dame Parish in
Clarendon Hills. “Just as in families where it is necessary
for them to communicate frequently to stay close
and help each other, so, too, in the presbyterate we
need the opportunity to come together to be with our
family in both structured and unstructured ways, allowing
us to strengthen our friendships and help each
other in their needs.”
Father Borello added that he enjoyed the time spent
at the priests’ convocation.
“I heard so many wonderful stories about the history
of the diocese and all the dierent personalities
that make our history so rich,” he said. “They shared
their experiences in ministry, the miracles at which
God allowed them to be present, the struggles and the
crosses that they have been asked to bear, and the joys
found in a life of selfless love. … I look forward to the
next one in two years.”
In the October/November 2011 issue of Christ
is our Hope, on page 7, in an article titled “Selective
Reduction: A Morality Tale,” the author, Susan E.
Wills, talked about “selective reduction” as it applies
to in vitro fertilization (IVF). She mentions how the
act of aborting one or more babies who were born
as a set of twins or triplets to “reduce the pregnancy”
to one child is “intrinsically evil.”
However, the author did not explicitly state the
Church’s position on IVF, which is that IVF is gravely
sinful. According to the Catechism (number 2376),
“Techniques that entail the dissociation of husband
and wife, by the intrusion of a person other than
the couple (donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate
uterus), are gravely immoral. These techniques (heterologous
artificial insemination and fertilization)
infringe the child’s right to be born of a father and
mother known to him and bound to each other by
marriage. They betray the spouses’ ‘right to become
a father and a mother only through each other.’ ”
The Catechism (number 2377) also futher explains
the Church’s teaching on IVF.
In 2009, the U.S. Bishops issued a document,
“Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology,” in which
they wrote: “Children have a right to be conceived
by the act that expresses embodies their parents’ selfgiving
love; morally responsible medicine can assist
this act but never substitute for it. Therefore, in vitro
fertilization (IVF) also is not morally justified, as the
procreative act is not performed within the loving
context of marital relations.”
Christ is our Hope / December 2011 / Dioceseofjoliet.org
This Bullying Has to Stop.
What Do We Do?
My 4th-grade son has recently become really clingy
and has been making excuses not to go out on the
playground at lunchtime. After asking him a few questions,
I realized that a new classmate has been bullying
– hitting kids when they’re standing in line and threatening
them. My son is afraid it will get worse if he or I
“tattle,” but this needs to stop. What should I do?
aAlthough your son may feel
lonely, he is far from alone.
Get school administrators
and teachers on board. A
tattle-tale is someone who gossips about
others. On the other hand, your son is
sharing important information with the
adults at school. Emphasize that you will
do your best, working with his teachers and
principal, to keep him safe. Write down as
many details as possible and share them
with the school administrators. Do they
have an anti-bullying plan in place? How do
they plan to respond to this situation? Now
that the school ocials are aware of the
problem, eorts need to be made to change
the classroom and playground climate. See
how you and other parents can support
Are Over the Top
these eorts. The solution should address
long-term concerns and not just focus on
this particular bully.
Discuss options that are under your
child’s control. Find out from your son
how he has been responding to the bully’s
actions. Help him figure out if there
are more eective eective ways to react in
each situation. “Why Why Are You Picking
on Me? Dealing With Bullies” ” by
John Burstein discusses
specific actions, such as
choosing a seat by the
driver of the school bus.
Role-play what your son
plans to do when the
I love Christmas as much as the next person, but my
neighbor’s decorations are over the top. He lights up the
house with so many bulbs that we end up with traffic jams from
the rubberneckers who come to view the display. Sometimes, I
have to wait to get into my own driveway – how can I stop this?
Regretfully, this situation has
created hundreds of disputes
every year. We all agree that
disputes between neighbors
can become very bitter and
cause great distress for both
sides. Initially, I suggest a
friendly approach. Visit your
neighbor and demonstrate
your sincere appreciation
for the gesture of enhancing
his house and even the
block with his decorations;
however, you would like to
Talk to your child about cyberbullying.
It might seem as if home is a refuge from
bullying, 4/7 experience for many children.
Text messages and social media sites allow
the harassment to occur anywhere.
If your child remains anxious about
participating fully in school, then consider
having him talk to a school counselor or get
a referral to to a psychologist psychologist in your
community. community. Encourage your child
to to share his his fear and anxieties anxieties
with God through prayer. He can
choose a Bible verse to
bring to mind when the
bully is near. “When I am
afraid, in you I place my
trust.” (Psalm 56:4)
Dr. Cathleen McGreal is a psychology professor and certified spiritual advisor.
negotiate with him certain
inconveniences that are interrupting
the daily life of the
block. You can suggest that
the lights go on when people
have already come home
after work and go off before
midnight to allow people to
go to bed in a peaceful way.
Mediation, whether informal
or in the presence of lawyers,
is another option for settling
disputes. It is often the best
way to resolve them.
Dr. Gelasia Marquez is a
psychologist and family counselor.
Liturgical Calendar: St. Francis Xavier, priest December 3 | St. Nicholas, bishop December 6 | St. Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church December 7
HE SAYS: SHE SAYS:
“ I don’t want
my son raised
by a stranger.”
Steve says: We always agreed
that, when we had children, Kelly
would stay home with them. So,
when our son was born six months
ago, I assumed Kelly would
quit her job. However, once her
company’s family leave was up,
she announced that she intended to
continue working and we’d need to
find day care for Sam. I don’t want my
son raised by a stranger – I want Kelly to
live up to our agreement.
WHAT DO THEY DO?
This reminds us of a time within the history of the Roman
Catholic Church when a non-Catholic party to a Catholic
marriage was required to sign a statement saying
they agreed to raise their children as Catholic. On the
surface, that sounded right and proper; however, most
non-Catholics did not know what “being Catholic” really meant!
Logically and ethically, how can a person
be held accountable for something about
which they know nothing? In other words,
how can Kelly be held to an agreement
for something she had no knowledge of
– the future! Life happens and things we
once thought possible or probable most
often morph into some other blessing
(often disguised as an obstacle) we never
dreamed about. Jo and I faced a similar decision
in the first years of our marriage; Jo
wanted to continue working in the field for
which she went to school, yet we had two
children. Financially, we were just about
breaking even after paying for the day-care
center that our children did not like! It
was time for a “dierent” decision that was
not in our plans before we were married.
Circumstances and situations changed,
and our plans needed to change along with
them. And many people find that staying
at home with their children brings rewards
and blessings they could not foresee.
Living with a plan developed yesterday
seldom reflects today’s needs, and is only
a guide for tomorrow. Plans should be
situationally applied and reviewed often
for changes in circumstances, environment
and desires. Plans should not be viewed as
set in concrete because life events change
our needs, wants and desires. Flexibility
and adaptability are key ingredients for all
marriages if they are to survive these dicult
economic times and our changing families.
Kelly appears to be concerned about the
family’s economic security, and it appears
that Steve is not addressing her concerns.
Our experience says that worries
over the security of the home will
far trump previous agreements
that do not address
the principal worry faced
by members of the family
unit. Since Steve’s job is less
stable, and he is concerned
about day care, this might
“I love my job.”
Kelly says: I know we talked about
the idea of me staying home with
our children. But that was before
the economy took a nosedive.
Steve didn’t mention that his
company is doing poorly and that
he had to take a 7 percent pay
cut last year. Without that money,
we really need my job. Also, I
love my work, and in just these
few months, I’ve realized that being
a stay-at-home mother would bore
me to tears.
Your Marriage Matters
be an opportunity for the couple to consider
prayerfully the option of Steve staying home.
The important issue here is how this situation
is aecting Steve and Kelly’s relationship,
and in turn their relationship with a God
who is Love. Love is gentle, kind and considerate,
and we are called to be Love to our
spouse as Jesus is to his spouse, the Church.
When we become Jesus to our spouse, Love
becomes the driver, and solutions are developed
that work for both spouses and not just
one. There is something positive and lifegiving
to a relationship when both spouses
approach an issue out of love and respect for
their partner. It does not become
a contest of who is correct or
who won this particular round,
instead it becomes a gift of self
for the other. Steve and
Kelly would do well if they
changed their approach
from getting (what was
agreed on some time
ago) to giving (what can
I do for you, my beloved,
Deacon Tom Fogle and JoAnne Fogle help prepare couples for marriage.
Is it Necessary? Father
Success is overestimated,
failure is underappreciated.
When I was a
young boy, I listened, with
my father, to Notre Dame
football games. When they
lost, which was infrequent
in those days, I was distraught.
So was my dad,
but he would say “You
don’t win them all, Jack.”
And, he added, “It’s not
good to win them all.” Maybe
so, but I still preferred
an undefeated season.
We all want to succeed; no one wants
to fail. Yet, we all have an intimation that
failure, somehow, may not be all bad. As
a matter of fact, failure may be a necessity.
Is there some truth in these folk adages?
“The only thoughts worth listening to are the
thoughts of the shipwrecked.” “You are only
truly free when you have lost your reputation.”
Individuals who have been battered
by life may come to a point where they
acknowledge their inability to make their
lives go right, and they have to turn them
over to Another. I remember my aunt, who
spent years feeding her husband through
a tube in his throat, saying, “I don’t know
how anyone gets through life without
faith!” Some of the most “real” and loving
people I know have been brought to their
knees in life, but now stand again in faith.
Failure may be inevitable if we wish to
become mature and generous in life. It
may be inevitable if we are going to be
able to love God and our neighbor. Great
joys and celebrations can strengthen faith,
too. But, failure has a way of getting our
attention, and it may be our path to true,
We struggle so hard in life to “make it”
that we become very self-preoccupied,
necessarily so. But, once we have constructed
a life and all the parts are more
or less in place, we may be self-satisfied
and ego-centric. Loving God and neighbor
means stepping outside our carefully constructed
life. It means a “letting go,” and
no self-respecting ego is going to “let go”
just because it is a good idea. We tend to
continue to fortify our life and try to grow
increasingly self-sucient. Failure teaches
us we cannot control life; we are not our
own gods. If we want to go on, we have to
step outside ourselves and acknowledge
our need for a strength beyond us.
To love God means to live in a way that
allows one’s will to be shaped by God’s
will. It means allowing God to find us.
God cannot find us if we are hiding in the
“home” of our self-sucient life. And the
experience of loss or failure may be something
we look back on with gratitude.
Failure, unbearable loss, humiliating
defeat, deep disappointment may not
always be “setbacks” in life, but may actually
move life forward in unexpected ways.
These experiences may be as much a necessary
part of life as inhaling and exhaling
are to breathing. The cross promised by
Jesus to his followers comes in unexpected
forms. Death and resurrection become the
pattern of life as we share in the paschal
mystery, the death and resurrection of
To love God is not a matter of feelings.
Nor is it a matter of beautiful thoughts
about God. As in any love, there is only
so much knowledge, so much data we
can gather about the beloved. At a certain
point, we have to simply surrender into
the mystery of the other person. So it is
with God. At a certain point in life, often
after a life has started to show cracks, we
have a golden opportunity to surrender to
mystery, with a truly biblical faith of trust
At that point, having gone through our
personal hell and now lifted up by grace,
we have something to say, not only in
words but in the witness of our life. Love
of neighbor now becomes truly compassionate.
Instead of saying, “That poor guy,”
or, “Those poor people,” we now can say,
“We poor!” And we then wait in hope with
all who wait in hope for God’s mercy.
As Christians, our boast is not in a
trophy, or an Emmy, or an Oscar, or an
Olympic medal. Our boast is in the cross
of Christ through which we have true
and ultimate victory. It carries with it the
promise of a future when every season is
undefeated, and every tear is wiped away.
John Welch, O.
Carm., resides in a Carmelite
community in Joliet.
8 Christ is our Hope / December 2011 / Dioceseofjoliet.org Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary December 8 | St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin December 9 | Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe December 12 | St. Lucy, virgin and martyr December 13 | St. John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church December 14
for us all
Christmas is great. Winter is not. Outside
of the excitement for the holidays,
many of us struggle through these
short, dark days in the Northern Hemisphere.
So if you are like me, perhaps
you’ll benefit from the inspiration and motivation
that comes from one of our saints: St. Lucy.
The Church recognizes
the dark times of winter and
celebrates opportunities for
metaphor. Christmas, for
example, was placed on Dec.
25 (thought to be the shortest
day of the year) to mark
Christ’s arrival, bringing and
expanding light into the world
as the days begin to subsequently
It is also a time when we
celebrate the feast day of St.
Lucy, whose name means
light. As a child, I was intrigued
and interested in
this saint because my loving
grandma is named Lucy. At
the same time, I was haunted
by the saint’s macabre image
in my “Picture Book of
Saints” where she was depicted
holding a goblet containing
two eyeballs, staring directly
at me. But as I grew older and
overcame my phobia of dis-
embodied eyeballs, I learned
more about her, and I became
aware that she is the patron
saint of vision: a symbolic
contrast to the darkness of
St. Lucy (Lucia) lived in
Syracuse, Sicily, under the
Roman Emperor Diocletian.
One can only imagine how
tough it was being a Christian
trying to live a devout
spiritual life in a violent and
pagan early fourth century.
One story has it that Lucia
refused to marry a pagan
and vowed to consecrate her
life and virginity to God. The
angry suitor handed her over
to the Roman government.
After several horrific but failed
attempts to kill her (including
the gouging of her eyes), she
finally died by a stab wound
to her heart. In studying saints
like these and the suffering
Pepparkakor (Swedish Ginger Cookies)
1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 ½ cups brown sugar
½ cup molasses
3 ½ cups flour
they endured, I find the inspiration
to persevere through
the dark times of the year, and
the dark and tough times of
With Dec.13 marking the
feast day of St. Lucy, celebrations
take place in those
parts of the world where
she is particularly revered.
In Sweden, St. Lucy’s Day
marks the beginning of the
Christmas celebration where
local recipes are prepared as
part of the traditional festivities.
Among the homemade
sweets is a Swedish ginger
cookie called Pepparkakor.
How wonderful that during
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl or container,
combine all dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, ginger,
cloves, baking soda and salt) and set aside. In a large mixing
bowl, beat together the butter and brown sugar. Mix in egg
and molasses until well combined. Slowly add dry ingredients
into the creamed mixture. Knead and form into a ball.
Place dough into an airtight container and refrigerate for
about an hour.
Remove from refrigerator and divide dough in half (leaving
one half in refrigerator to stay firm). Roll dough to a 1/8inch
thickness onto a cool, floured surface. Use cookie cutters to cut desired shapes. Using
a spatula, carefully place onto a parchment lined (or greased) baking sheet. Bake for 8-10
minutes and cool completely on wire rack. Repeat process with remaining dough.
this time of year, we can use
culinary arts to combat and
liven the somber gloom of
winter. I would imagine that
St. Lucy applauds the invocation
of her name within the
context of celebration, cuisine,
and the thwarting of winter’s
Aside from being easy to
make, these crispy and delicious
cookies are easy to eat.
The next time winter gets you
down, warm your house with
a batch of these treats, take
inspiration from St. Lucy’s
perseverance, and find peace
in knowing that you will make
it to May.
Michelle DiFranco is a
designer and the busy mom
of two children.
10 Christ is our Hope / December 2011 / Dioceseofjoliet.org St. Peter Canisius, priest and doctor of the Church December 21 | St. John of Kanty, priest December 23 Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord December 25 | St. Stephen, first martyr December 26 | Feast of St. John, apostle and evangelist December 27
Ask the Priest
Is Cremation Allowed?
I remember when the Church did not allow
funerals with cremated remains, but
recently I attended one when the person
had already been cremated. What is the
Church’s position on cremation?
The short answer
is that the Church
does permit cremation;
she prefers that the body
is buried. Canon 1176 of the
Code of Canon Law sums it up:
“The Church earnestly recommends
that the pious custom of
burying the bodies of the dead be
observed; it does not, however,
forbid cremation unless it has
been chosen for reasons which
are contrary to Christian teaching.”
A Catholic may choose to be
Christ is our Hope / December 2011 / Dioceseofjoliet.org
cremated. However, the cremated
remains must be treated with
respect, being stored in a worthy
vessel, carried in a manner of
respect, and “buried in a grave
or entombed in a mausoleum or
(Order of Christian
ask why it
matters. It is in
of the Church
QRecuerdo cuando la Iglesia no
permitía los funerales con cuerpos
cremados, sin embargo,
recientemente asistí a uno
en el cual la persona ya había
sido cremada. ¿Cuál es la posición de la
Iglesia ante la cremación?
La respuesta corta a esta pregunta es que la Iglesia si
permite la cremación, aunque prefiere que el cuerpo sea
enterrado. El Código del Derecho Canónico dice en el
canon 1176: “La Iglesia aconseja vivamente que se conserve
la piadosa costumbre de sepultar los cuerpos de los muertos, no
obstante, no prohíbe la cremación, a menos que haya sido elegida por
razones contrarias a la doctrina cristiana.” Un católico puede elegir
ser cremado. Sin embargo, las cenizas deben ser tratadas con respeto,
guardándolas en un recipiente digno, llevado en una manera respetuosa
y “enterrado en una fosa o sepultado en un mausoleo.” (Orden de
Funerales Cristianos, 417).
Tal vez, alguien pregunte por qué esto es importante. Es una
It is in the
tradition of the
Church to show
respect and reverence
it became a
temple of the
to show respect and reverence
for the body because it became a
temple of the Holy Spirit (see 1
Cor. 6:19) when it was washed
in baptism and anointed with
the oil of salvation. It has been
fed with the bread of life and has
loved and been loved by others.
We are not solely spiritual; we are
made up of body and spirit, and
Jesus reveals to us through His
resurrected and glorified body
that we, too, will experience the
resurrection of the body, which
we profess in the Apostles’ Creed.
It is clear in the Rites and in
the literature of the Church that
the preference is to bury the
body or to at least have the body
present at the funeral liturgy
before cremation. Because of the
and out of the
do not forget
14 Saint of
Father Matthew Pratscher
is parochial vicar at St. Dominic
Parish in Bolingbrook. To submit
questions to him, email
work of commending a beloved
soul to God through our rites and
prayers, on March 21, 1997, the
Sacred Congregation for Divine
Worship and the Discipline of
the Sacraments granted an indult
that permits the local bishop to
allow for the cremated remains
to be present at the funeral Mass.
The appendix of the Order of
Christian Funerals contains ritual
adaptations for when the funeral
rites are celebrated in the presence
of the cremated remains of
tradición de la Iglesia mostrar respeto y reverencia
por el cuerpo, porque fue un templo del Espíritu
Santo (ver 1 Cor. 6:19), cuando fue lavado por el bautismo
y ungido con el aceite de la salvación. Ha sido
alimentado con el pan de vida, ha amado y a sido
amado por otros. No somos solo espíritu; estamos
compuestos por el cuerpo y espíritu, y Jesús nos
revela através de su cuerpo resucitado y glorificado
que, también nosotros experimentaremos la resurrección del cuerpo,
lo cual predicamos en el Credo de los Apóstoles.
Es claro que en los Ritos y en la literatura de la Iglesia la preferencia
es que hay, que el cuerpo sea enterrado o por lo menos tener
el cuerpo presente en la liturgia del funeral antes de la cremación.
Por la creciente solicitud de cremaciones y, fuera de la preocupación
pastoral, que no se olvide de la obra misericordiosa de recomendar
un alma querida a Dios a través de nuestros ritos y oraciones. El 21
de marzo de 1997, la Sagrada Congregación para el Culto Divino y la
Disciplina de los Sacramentos otorgó un indulto que autoriza al obispo
local permitir que las cenizas del cuerpo cremado estén presentes
en la Misa del Funeral. El anexo de la Orden de Funerales Cristianos
contiene adaptaciones del ritual, para cuando los ritos del funeral
sean celebrados en la presencia de las cenizas del cuerpo cremado.
Feast of The Holy Innocents, martyrs December 28 | St. Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr December 29
t was a rainy day in late August when I
visited Polly Anna Ellison-White. It also
happened to be her 109th birthday.
As she sat in her wheelchair enjoying
ice cream and cookies to celebrate
the landmark day, I watched as Polly Anna’s
friend leaned in to ask her a question.
“Do you think it was raining 109 years
ago today, Polly?” Midge Daucanski asked.
A smile washed across Polly Anna’s face as
she responded, “How would I remember?”
The two women chuckled, as they’ve
done hundreds of times over the course
of their 11-year friendship. The pair met
when Polly Anna and Midge were matched
through Catholic Charities’ Senior Companion
Program, which connects low-income
seniors with homebound seniors who need
extra attention. Midge had recently lost her
husband and sought volunteer opportunities
to help ease her out of her grief. “I was walking
around in a fog. I was just a robot,” she
recalls now of the difficult time in her life.
Polly Anna was 98 years old at the time and
living independently, but on a very limited
income. Plus, she needed some additional
care after a recent hospitalization.
Midge told me that Polly Anna has
taught her many things over the years. For
example, Polly Anna shared her passion for
cooking with Midge. The two would meet
for a visit and have six crockpots lined up
on the kitchen counter, full of traditional
The two women spend hours sharing
stories from their long and interesting
lives. Midge is fascinated when Polly Anna
To learn more about the programs and services provided by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet,
please visit catholiccharitiesjoliet.org
reminisces about her childhood in Alabama,
growing up with 13 siblings, jobs as a cook
and a nanny, escaping her abusive husband
and the journey to her home in Kankakee.
Midge shared many stories of her late husband,
helping her grieve.
A few years ago, Polly Anna needed a
higher level of care and moved from her
home into a nursing home in Bourbonnais.
Even though Polly Anna now receives fulltime
care, Midge still visits often.
It’s hard to imagine what Polly Anna and
Midge’s lives would be like without the bond
they share as part of Catholic Charities’ Senior
Companion Program. Perhaps Midge
would have spiraled deeper into her grief
and depression. Maybe Polly Anna wouldn’t
have been able to live independently in
her home for as long as she did. There’s
no way of knowing, but it’s clear to me that
both women’s lives have been enriched and
blessed by this invaluable connection.
Sitting with these two fantastic women, I
am struck by how perfectly matched they
are, despite the fact that they have almost
nothing in common.
“I just love Polly to death,” Midge explains.
“It’s a great connection.”
Story and Photography by Maggie Pielsticker
aint Francis Xavier, the
patron saint for the Diocese
of Joliet, never
set foot in America.
But, his connection
with the diocese can be tied to
the fact that Bishop Martin D.
McNamara, the first bishop of
the diocese, was a pastor at
St. Francis Xavier in Wilmette,
Ill., before being named bishop.
And he was the one who designated
the diocese’s patron saint.
So, who was this saint?
He was born in Navarre, Spain, in 1506,
and he is known for his evangelization eorts
in India and Japan. He was a co-founder, with
St. Ignatius of Loyola, of the Society of Jesus,
commonly referred to as the Jesuits. Here is
how one of his biographers, Horatio Tursellinus,
described St. Francis Xavier: “It is almost
impossible to imagine the charm of his face, his
gestures, his talk, his words. His natural gifts,
perfected by the grace of God, attracted and
held hearts. A smile always gay, a freedom without
reserve, sympathetic conversation – it was
enough for a sick man to see him to feel better,
a healthy one to be exhilarated and joyous.
Many went to him to stimulate their souls with
his heavenly force, to excite in themselves the
desire for a good life, to set their souls on fire.”
The seeds of his own fire started within his
family. St. Francis Xavier was the fifth and
youngest child of pious parents who instructed
him well in the faith. He attended the University
of Paris, hoping to return to Spain as a
scholar-priest to find a well-paying position.
But, at the university, he shared a dormitory
room with Ignatius of Loyola. One of the ways
the future St. Ignatius ignited a zeal for the faith
in his friend was by constantly asking Francis
one question Jesus posed in the Gospel: “What
profit is there for one to gain the whole world
yet lose or forfeit himself?” (Luke 9:25)
Growing in faith, the seven young men who
co-founded the Society of Jesus decided to oer
themselves at the service of the Church. In St.
Francis Xavier’s case, that meant he became a
missionary, something he did with great zeal.
Some of the places he traveled to included
the East Indies, Western India, Malacca, the
Malucca Islands and Japan. In all those places,
he preached and catechized, and thousands of
people converted to Catholicism.
“I wish [university students] would work
as hard at converting these people as they do
at their books,” he once wrote, “and so settle
their account with God for their learning and
the talents entrusted to them. This thought
would certainly stir most of them to meditate
on spiritual realities, to listen actively to what
God is saying to them. They would forget their
own desires, their human aairs, and give
themselves over entirely to God’s will and His
choice. They would cry out with all their heart:
‘Lord, I am here! What do you want me to do?
Send me anywhere you like – even to India!’ ”
One of the ways he catechized was to write
verses in the language of the people he was
visiting, illuminating them about the Catholic
faith. Then he would set the verses to a
He suered persecutions. Traveling was not
easy in those days, so his life was usually spent
in constant danger. Reportedly, he did not fear
death because he felt he was being sent by the
Holy Spirit. “If I die, it is because God wills it,
and he will send other laborers,” he wrote to
friends once. In another letter he wrote, “Abundant
spiritual consolations … are to be found
on these islands; for all the toils and dangers
that are willingly encountered here for the
love and service of God our Lord are treasures
abounding in great spiritual consolations, so
much in fact that in here on these islands a
man might well lose sight of his bodily eyes
within a few years from the abundance of his
consoling tears … It would be better if they
were called ‘Islands of Hope in God’ rather than
‘Islands of Moro.’ ”
His love for others and for Christ compelled
him to evangelize far from his home.
As he put it once: “Many, many people
hereabouts are not becoming Christians for
one reason only: There is nobody to make
San Francisco Javier, el Santo Patrón de la Diócesis
de Joliet, nunca puso un pie en América. Sin
embargo, su conexión con la diócesis pudiera ser a
través del Obispo Martín D. McNamara, quien fuera
el primer obispo de la diócesis, que siendo sacerdote, se le
asignó como pastor de la parroquia de San Francisco Javier
en Wilmette, IL. Fue el Obispo McNamara, quien designó a
San Francisco Javier, como Santo Patrón de la Diócesis.
¿Quién es este santo?
Nació en Navarra, España, en
el año 1506 y es conocido por
sus esfuerzos en la evangelización
en India y Japón. Junto
a San Ignacio de Loyola fue
co-fundador de la Compañía de
Jesús, comúnmente llamados
Uno de sus biógrafos,
Horatio Tursellinus, lo describe
así: “Es casi imposible imaginar
el encanto de su rostro, sus
gestos, sus palabras. Sus dones
naturales, perfeccionados por la
gracia de Dios, atraía y retenía
corazones, una sonrisa siempre
alegre, una libertad sin reservas,
conversación agradable- todo
esto era suficiente para sanar a
un hombre enfermo, ver a un
hombre saludable regocijarse y
ponerse alegre. Muchos acudían
a él para estimular su alma con
su fuerza celestial, para despertar
en ellos el deseo por una
buena vida, para prender fuego
en sus almas.”
Las semillas de su propio
fuego comenzaron dentro de
su familia. San Francisco Javier
fue el quinto y el último de los
hijos, tuvo unos padres muy
piadosos quienes le instruyeron
muy bien en la fe. Asistió a la
Universidad de Paris, con la
esperanza de regresar a España
como profesor para sacerdotes
y encontrar una posición bien
pagada. Sin embargo, en la universidad
compartió el dormitorio
con Ignacio de Loyola. Una
de las maneras en que el futuro
San Ignacio encendió la chispa
del entusiasmo de la fe en su
amigo Francisco fue al preguntarle
pregunta que Jesús hizo en el
evangelio: “¿De que le sirve a
uno ganarse el mundo entero si
pierde y arruina su vida?” (Lucas
Creciendo en fe, los siete
jóvenes que co-fundaron la
Compañía de Jesús decidieron
ofrecerse al servicio de la Iglesia.
En el caso de San Francisco Javier,
eso significó convertirse en
misionero, algo que él hizo con
gran entusiasmo. Algunos de los
lugares a los cuales viajó fueron
las Indias Orientales, el Oeste de
India, Malacca, las Islas Malacca
y Japón. En todos esos lugares
predicó y catequizó. Fueron
miles de personas las que se
convirtieron al catolicismo.
En una ocasión escribió:
“Deseo que [estudiantes universitarios]
en convertir a las personas tal
como lo hacen con sus libros. Y
así saldar sus cuentas con Dios
por lo aprendido y los talentos
que se les encomendaron. Este
pensamiento ciertamente que
incitaría a cualquiera de ellos
a meditar sobre las realidades
espirituales, a escuchar atentamente
a lo que Dios les estaba
llamando. Ellos se olvidarían de
sus propios deseos, de cualquiera
de sus asuntos y entregarían
completamente a los deseos de
Dios. Gritarían desde el fondo
de su corazón: ‘¡Señor aquí
estoy! ¿Qué quieres que haga?
Envíame a cualquier lugar que
tú desees… ¡Aún a India!’ ”
Una de las maneras que
utilizaba para catequizar, era escribiendo
versos en el lenguaje
de los lugares que visitaba,
iluminándolos con la fe católica.
Y, después, convertía los versos
a una tonada “con gancho.”
San Francisco Javier sufrió
persecuciones. En aquellos días
viajar no era fácil, así que su
vida estuvo en constante peligro.
Se dice que él no le temía a la
muerte, ya que sentía que era
enviado por el Espíritu Santo.
En una ocasión escribió a sus
amigos, “Si muero, es porque
Dios así lo desea, y después
enviará a nuevos trabajadores,”
y en otra ocasión escribió:
“Abundantes consuelos espirituales…..
se han de encontrar en
estas islas; por todos los trabajos
y peligros que por voluntad
propia se enfrentan en este
lugar, por el amor y servicio a
Dios nuestro Señor, son tesoros
que abundan en los grandes
consuelos espirituales, tal es el
caso que en estas islas, un hombre
podría perder la vista de
sus ojos corporales en tan solo
unos años por la abundancia de
sus lágrimas de consuelo…sería
mejor si se les llamara “Islas de
Esperanza en Dios” en lugar de
llamarse ‘Islas de Moro.’”
Su amor por otros y por
Cristo lo llevaron a evangelizar
lejos de su hogar. Como el
dijera en una ocasión: “Muchas,
muchas personas aquí no se
están convirtiendo al cristianismo
por una sola razón: no hay
nadie quien los convierta en
t Francis Xavier Christ is our Hope / December 2011 / Dioceseofjoliet.org
Story by Carlos Briceño
The Meaning of the Christmas Crèche
he Word was made
flesh. The very source
of life, the creator of all
things of us sent His
son in the likeness of
sinful man. The Father sent His Son
in human flesh to dwell among us
that we might draw near to God. Do
Often, I hear people say that “we will take our
children to the crib and explain to them what is
going on in this scene and who He is. It is so dear,
so good for the children.”
But what about us “world-weary” adults? What
do we think when we look at the crib scene?
Do we still believe? If we do, what exactly do we
• I would encourage you to have a
manger scene in your home beginning
with Advent. Each day, visit that
little crèche and gaze upon this reminder
that God loved you so much He would
come down to you; He would stoop so
that you could gaze on Him and see
Him eye-to-eye in order to save you
from your sins and lead you home!
• This little child is your safety, your
security, your savior, the one who
conquered eternal death for you!
Does it take faith to believe that? Of
course. So come to the crèche and
kneel, bow down and ask God for faith.
Maybe you will feel like a fool, but the
Gospel is a paradox. It always turns
things upside down and inside out.
believe? Will we kneel before the manger scene in
church this Christmas and thank God, our Father,
for what He has given us in His Son, Jesus Christ?
God, the Father, gave us His only Son and that
Son, Jesus, came into our world as a vulnerable,
helpless infant depending on total care from human
beings. He made Himself utterly helpless so
that we could draw near and not be afraid. God
our Father did not want us to be terrorized by
seeing His infinite majesty. So he came “in human
form, being born in the likeness of men.” (Phil. 2:7)
We were made for union with God. But God
will not coerce! He gave us the awe-full gift of free
will so we are free to choose. We can choose to
utterly reject, or we can choose to draw close to
that tiny infant in a cold manger, a food trough,
who became like us in all things but sin so that
we might more easily bow down.
God, the Father gave us His only Son and that Son, Jesus, came
into our world as a vulnerable, helpless infant depending on total
care from human beings. He made himself utterly helpless so that
we could draw near and not be afraid.
Embracing truth will set you free. “Bow
down in order to be raised up.” Unless
you become like a little child, you cannot
enter the kingdom of heaven. The
Gospel is a paradox over and over. God
turns the world’s priorities upside down
and inside out
• When we bow down before that
manger, we are saying in effect:
“Lord, I kneel before you. I need
your help, your saving grace in my
life. I need to grow in faith that I might
be able to trust you with my life.” You
may feel foolish but God hears that
prayer and will respond. Give Him the
gift of your humility this Christmas, the
admission that you don’t have all the
answers, even that you don’t have any
answers. Many things we’ve tried in
life have failed, have turned to dust…
16 Christ FAITH Christ FAITH Christ FAITH Christ is Magazine our Hope / July/August / December 2011
Feast of the Holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph December 30 | St. Sylvester I, pope December 31
Sister Ann Shields is a
renowned author and a member
of the Servants of God’s
Love. Questions can be addressed
to Sister Ann Shields,
Renewal Ministries, 230
Collingwood, Suite 240, Ann
Arbor, MI 48103
prayer and a
of this topic,
see my book: Pray
and Never Lose Heart,
available from Renewal
Ministries, 230 Collingwood,
Suite 240, Ann
Arbor, MI 48103. $12.
we feel empty, helpless, in need. And
every time you kneel down in front of
the manger during Advent, ask Him for
faith — faith to believe that He is a God
of love, faith to believe that He forgives
your sins when you admit them and
ask him for forgiveness, faith that He
knows you and loves you and wants to
shepherd your life, if you will allow Him
to do so.
• Then, on Christmas Eve, go to
church, and, before Mass, go to the
manger and offer that small baby
your whole life – to begin again
to follow Him or to follow Him more
closely. That infant is your Savior, your
Lord, your Redeemer. God paid the
ultimate price for your life: His life to
save yours. Bow down and accept His
gift; His gift that is beyond price.
eacon Tom Richardt, from
St. Joan of Arc in Lisle,
is dying. Diagnosed with
pancreatic cancer earlier in
the year, he does not know
how long he has to live. What he does know
is his cancer cannot be cured – it’s spread
to his lymph nodes – and his medical care
these days consists of a morphine patch
“The chemotherapy is not curative,” he said, “but the doctor is
trying to slow down the growth of the tumor so that I don’t have to
increase the pain medication.”
At one point during the summer, his level of pain discomfort
was so intense that his wife had to help him out of the door of
their home. He was on his way to see a Franciscan nun who
has a healing ministry, and the day after he saw her, he said the
intensity of the pain had disappeared. And since then, even before
his chemotherapy, he has not taken any supplementary pain
medication, he said.
He attributes the decrease in pain to the power of prayer.
After the pastor, Father Gabriel Baltes, O.S.B., at his parish told
parishioners at all the Masses in the spring that Richardt had
cancer and asked others to pray for him, dozens of people let him
know about health problems within their families or that they were
praying for him.
“My eyes were opened,” he said. “My heart was opened to them.
I could listen with much empathy and could understand what they
were saying. Because of my diaconate, I think I’m able to bring
some spiritual wellness into the conversation. I tell them the Lord
is there for us with His hand out. He has His arm around us. We
are not alone.”
In terms of his own spiritual life, he said that before his illness
he thought he was in good spiritual shape. He tried to live out the
Gospel message, he said. But, since his diagnosis, he has developed
a better relationship with Jesus.
“I’m not looking at Him as somebody way, way far away that
I’m trying to serve but someone that I am close to, walking with,
talking with, conversing with every day,” he said. “There’s a
dierence there. He’s not two miles away. He’s in this room. He’s
sitting next to me. He’s holding my hand. I feel that.”
His wife, Barbara, has also felt the power of other people’s
“The prayers of others help get me up in the morning,” she said.
The illness has made her realize how much she needs God in
“I hope each day that I live I am growing closer to God,” she said.
“The illness has opened my eyes to how much I depend on God.
Christ is our Hope / December 2011 / Dioceseofjoliet.org
Each day I feel Him walking with me, with us. And each day,
as I continue to pray that His will be done, I hope that His
will is my prayer: healing for Tom.”
But in the end, she knows that God will continue to be
there for her, no matter what happens.
“The love that Tom and I share is a gift from God,” said
Barbara, who has been married to her husband for 42 years,
“and I cherish each moment and touch that I have with
him. I cannot conceive life without him. But, in my heart,
though, I know God will not forget or abandon me. I’m
torn between knowing that Tom will be in the arms of God,
which is our goal, and knowing that when I reach out, I
will not be able to touch his hand.”
To thank people who were praying for him and to share
with them what he was experiencing, he gave the homily
at all the Masses during a weekend in June. (The homily is
printed at the end of this article.)
The homily resonated with a lot of people, he said, as
many asked him for a copy of it.
He made the point that people should live every day as if
it were their last.
“One of the biggest frustrations that I have is I see time
as something that is very, very precious, and I need to do
so much in such a short period of time,” said Richardt,
65, who has been a deacon since 2007. “Sleep is a thing
Christ is our Hope / December 2011 / Dioceseofjoliet.org
of premium. I find myself getting up and spending half
a night doing things I fear I am not going to get done.
Things around the home. I don’t want to leave my wife with
something that needs to be done or is only partially done.
This is going to sound ridiculous, but two nights ago I got
up and mopped the kitchen floor at 3:30 in the morning. It
came over me while I was sleeping that this was something
I needed to do. Or I will get up and put together some
things for the ministries that need to be done in terms of
He said he realizes that all that he is trying to take care of
before he dies is “ridiculous” because it is never-ending.
“There is never going to be a time when I can finally say
I’ve got everything done,” he said, “because my life is too
complex to ever let that happen so part of this emptying
myself is I have to learn how to turn things over to our Lord
and say, ‘You know, Lord, I can’t do it all. You’re going to
have to kick in here.’ And He has. And I’m learning how to
He is sleeping much better, as a result, he said.
“My conversations with our Lord have much more
meaning now, and I’m able to be more at peace. This is part
of that emptying yourself, and I think I’m finally going to
get to a point where I turn everything over to Him and say,
‘You know what, Lord, I’m ready.’ ”
Deacon Richardt’s Homily About God’s Love
For those of you new to the parish, I am Deacon Tom.
It has been nearly three months since Father Gabriel
announced to you of my untreatable cancer diagnosis.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the
cards, well-wishes, encouraging dialogue, suggestions, health
foods, healing touches, sacramentals, Masses, novenas and the
continuing prayers. Without these acts of sincere kindness and
the “stormin’ of heaven,” I can only guess what state of mind I
would be today, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that
with these prayers you have given me life, a wonderful life that
can only come from Christ our Lord through the intercession
of the Holy Spirit. I feel our Lord with me every moment. The
sky is bluer, the rainbows brighter, the presence of God’s love
is so much more vibrant – even the evening lightning bugs are
brighter. I see God’s mercy and I feel His love. My conversation
with Him is frequent, spontaneous and more meaningful;
the love for my wife, Barbara, is deeper than ever. I could go
on and on, but I won’t. Let me sum it up by telling you I feel
surrounded with love – from you, my sisters and brothers. I pray
each day for all of you that God’s mercy and love will permeate
your life as well. Thank you!
All is not as comfortable as I would like; I have good days, and
then I have better days; but, all of us could say that! I know that
many of you are enduring much more pain and discomfort than
I, and I pray for your relief. My doctor has told me my cancer
has not gone away. Sometimes I wonder if he is surprised that
I am still here. But, I can tell you what has gone away – thanks
to your prayers – is my fear, my fear of hearing what the Lord
expects of me and not being able to meet those expectations
because I am a sinner – one unworthy of God’s love. But I have
rid myself of that fear and having no fear is, in fact, emptying
yourself to God – trusting in Him and admitting to yourself that
you are dependent on Him.
That God loves you always despite our sins against Him and
one another. The more I accept that, the more I love Him. This
was a conversion step for me! And, the psalm today captures
that: “Lord, you are good and forgiving.”
Several months ago, I was finishing my consultation with the
wonderful sta at the Mayo Clinic. At the end of my visit, the
doctor looked over my report, raised his eyes to me and told
me there wasn’t anything medically they could do for me. Like
a voice from someone I should have recognized, he said, “Live
every day as if it were your last.” You could have knocked me
over with a feather! I immediately thought to myself – shouldn’t
I be doing that anyway? Hasn’t Jesus told us we don’t know the
hour or the day? During His time on earth, didn’t He give us
the example for how to bring heaven on earth? Didn’t He reveal
to us so many things that can bring happiness to each one of
us now and forever? Didn’t He send us the Holy Spirit, give us
the Church, the sacraments and the community of saints and
sinners to help us?
All my life, I have listened to His word. Yet, I confess I have
not always heard Him! Why is it that I hear what my doctor tells
me but have ignored what our Lord has been telling me? Could
it be that it was Christ attempting to reach me in another way
through the guise of a doctor?
When I was growing up in rural southern Indiana, our family
had a quarter-acre family garden and eight kids to care for it.
My dad didn’t believe in chemical weed killers, so finding ways
to get a good harvest of fresh vegetables was always a challenge.
There were times when the weeds were as plentiful as the good
plants. My dad, like the master in the parable, would tell us to
make sure the plants with the weeds were watered and cared
for, and at “pickin’ time” we would separate the vegetables from
the weeds. He would say, “Don’t uproot the garden to take out
the weeds.” In today’s Gospel, God uses the weeds as an analogy
for our sins – steadily forgiving our sins – letting them stay with
us, reminding us of our faults, without uprooting us. Certainly,
God wants to forgive us. He does not want to preserve the weeds
(in other words, our sins), but He loves everything about us. He
loves us because we are sinners; we need Him!
I love the good-guy, bad-guy movies. I used to watch Superman
and the bad guy battle it out in the comic books. They would
fight man-to-man, wielding secret weapons and tricks, sometimes
somersaulting across the tops of skyscrapers, spinning kicks to
the head. Finally, the bad guy would fall lifeless over the edge.
Retribution was accomplished. A silent roar of approval would
swell within me. Good was again the winner. All were relieved
and happy – except, of course, the bad guy.
Just for an exercise, pretend you are the bad guy. As the bad
guy, maybe there is a moment when a deep-down whisper says,
“I wish I could stop this ugliness and be a good person.” I think
we all have had those moments. If this is so, we have hit upon
the point of today’s Gospel in still another way. Admitting that
we are full of weeds and sins is so important to us and to our
God. We can call it a step – a conversion step – realizing that He
loves us despite our sins and those ever-present weeds.
Imagine Jesus saying from the cross, “Father, send all these
people who have hurt me to Hell forever.” Now that would be
a major case of tearing out both weeds and veggies. Instead, He
leaves the weeds and says, “Father, forgive them, they know not
what they do.” Emptying ourselves – having the faith and trust
that God will not rip out the weeds in us, but will forgive us as
many times as it takes because of His infinite love for us – makes
every day the best day of our life.
Forgive the weeds!
Catechism Tip: God Oers Forgiveness
through Sacrament of Reconciliation
The whole power of the sacrament of Penance consists
in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in
an intimate friendship.” Reconciliation with God is thus
the purpose and effect of this sacrament. For those
who receive the sacrament of Penance with contrite
heart and religious disposition, reconciliation “is usually
followed by peace and serenity of conscience with
strong spiritual consolation.” Indeed the sacrament of
Reconciliation with God brings about a true “spiritual
resurrection....” (Catechism, number 1468)
Story by Carlos Briceño | Photography by Alexus Jones
Making Heavenly Music
from the Cathedral
Thomas’ job as director of
music at the Cathedral of St.
Raymond Nonnatus started
25 years ago. He was working
as the choir director at
Holy Ghost Parish in South Holland when
he saw an ad in a newspaper for the job at
the cathedral in Joliet. After he got hired, his
first month at work was a bit of a doozie in
terms of an introduction.
He played the music at the cathedral for the funeral of a congressman,
Rep. George O’Brien, who had recently died. One of
the dignitaries at the funeral was then Vice President George
H.W. Bush’s wife, Barbara. Then, shortly afterward, one of the
prisoners held captive in Iran during the hostage crisis that
began during President Jimmy Carter’s tenure and ended when
Ronald Reagan became president was welcomed back. Father
Lawrence Jenco, a former hostage who was born in Joliet, attended
a Mass at the cathedral.
“It was my third week on the job,” Thomas said. “It was a
nationally televised event. I didn’t know the choir. That was
In the years since, Thomas has obviously had time to get to
know the people who make up the choirs – there’s a cathedral
choir and a diocesan choir, made up of singers from the cathedral
and from around the diocese who usually perform during
special Masses, such as the ordination of a bishop.
The cathedral choir season usually runs from September
through June. They rehearse every Wednesday during those
months, between one-and-a-half hours to three hours. Their
preparation includes learning two dierent choral anthems
every week, rarely repeating, Thomas said.
But one of the strengths about the choir is that most of them
know each other really well. There are about 35 members in
the cathedral choir, and he added that he’s known 25 of them
for about 20 years or more.
“We’ve become like a very close family,” he said.
One of the choir members, Michael Zafran, has known
Thomas since 1982. Zafran sang for Thomas when Thomas
was the choir director at Holy Ghost Parish and then continued
the friendship by joining the cathedral choir.
“He’s real friendly,” Zafran said. “He draws you in like he’s
a friend to everybody. Even though he’s a director, he still has
Megan Goolsby, another cathedral choir member, has known
Thomas for more than 20 years. She is a music teacher in the
Plainfield School District, so she appreciates the eort Thomas
“He’s entertaining as a musician,” she said. “It’s such a thrill.
It’s so much fun. The music he puts out is phenomenal. Some
of it is very challenging. The end result, when you hear it with
the orchestra playing, it’s just spectacular. Every holiday, every
season, I have chills. I remember the first Christmas we did with
him. I remember my husband, my son and I came home, and
I said, ‘Oh, my gosh. That was so beautiful.’ He goes above and
beyond with all of his music.”
In terms of his other preparation, Thomas also rehearses on
Tuesdays with members of the cathedral and diocesan chorale
before special liturgies. During this past summer, the highlight
of their eorts was the installation Mass for Bishop R. Daniel
Conlon, the diocese’s fifth bishop, who was installed on July 14
at the cathedral.
There were 135 singers and an orchestra consisting of 18
members for that Mass – the most ever for a Mass he’s been
involved with, he said. He spent around 40 hours in the weeks
before to prepare, he said.
“Some churches are known for their contemporary music, and
others are known for their Gregorian chant music,” he said. “And
others who strictly do hymns. I try to do a little bit of all of that.”
Excellence is something Thomas always has strived for in
presenting music at the cathedral.
“The music people all know that, and I also strive for professionalism,”
he said. “If you are professional, it comes forth in
what you do.”
But there also are other things that he hopes for: that the
music helps people to pray and sets a good example.
“The cathedral is the example of what the liturgy should
be for the diocese,” he said. “I always tell [the choir members]
what we do, whether we know it or not, in some way or
some how, will go back to a visiting person, or a person from
another parish or another state. In the summer, I’ll have people
come up to me and say, ‘I’m visiting from Michigan. Or I’m
visiting from California. We just love the music. It’s so dierent
than from where we worship.’ A lot of times people will ask – I
guess it’s a good thing because they liked it – they’ll ask what
music we did that day. They get a title and a composer so they
can take it back to their church choir director.”
Thomas’ love for music was probably born because his father
played the drums and played in a local band. Thomas sang in
choirs while growing up in Lafayette, IN, and the Chicagoland
“In junior high school, I was the only boy in the choir with 8
million girls,” he said.
He didn’t learn how to play the piano or organ until his first
year in college. He went to Thornton Junior College, which is
now known as South Suburban College, in South Palos for two
years and then went to Chicago State University, where he got a
bachelor’s degree in music, with an emphasis on choral music.
He taught music at Laramie Junior High School in Oak Forest,
while getting his master’s degree in music, with a choral em-
phasis, from Governors State University. He taught at the junior
high school level for eight years and then got his first full-time
job at a parish. He also taught as a part-time instructor at South
Suburban College for 16 years; 13 years ago he was hired at
Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills as the music
instructor and co-ordinator and now he is the head of the Department
of Fine Arts and Humanities there.
When he arrived at the cathedral, he directed the choir in
back of the altar, by the side of the pulpit. Then the location
was changed to the side of the cathedral where the St. Joseph
statue is, during the renovation 20 years ago. Then, after the
arrival of former Bishop Peter Sartain and with his approval,
the choir ended up in the balcony, its present location, he said.
Renovations had to be made, with Thomas leading the fundraising
charge. The choir raised more than $96,000, which
went toward purchasing an organ and leveling the pews and
getting choir risers and a carpet and storage space, he said.
Over the years, he added, he and the choir have raised more
than $297,000 to help purchase equipment, such as pianos,
hand bells, choir robes, hymnals and timpani.
But, in the end, it’s really the music that makes it all worthwhile.
As for what kind of music he likes, Thomas said he likes
the music of Aaron Copland, George Gershwin and the Beatles,
though he also likes the Black Eyed Peas and Katy Perry. Some of
his favorite songs are “Amazing Grace” and “Panis Angelicus.”
“A standing joke in the choir is if they know I like something,”
he said, “then they add it to my ongoing funeral list
of choices that I’m going to have at my funeral, which totals
around 200 songs.”
Until then, Thomas will keep on leading beautiful music at
Story by Carlos Briceño
t was going to be a great trip for Jim Hoeflinger and his wife, Marie, a romantic
getaway to Hawaii, where the couple had gone on their honeymoon 20 years
earlier. The trip wasn’t as expensive as it could have been because Jim’s sister,
Cheryl, and brother-in-law, Tom, had invited them to stay at their time-share resort
in Maui. And Marie had no inkling that Jim had set up a special surprise – a ceremony
for them to renew their wedding vows. Everything was perfect, except for one thing:
Marie was dying. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2004 and, by
the time of the trip to Hawaii, the cancer had spread to her brain.
Usually Hawaii is like paradise, but when
the couple arrived, the island was experiencing
a tropical depression. So it rained. And
rained. And rained.
But then, after three days, on the day the
ceremony was supposed to take place, the
horizon began to clear. And, with tears of joy,
they were able to renew their vows during a
beautiful sunset, he said.
He could not sleep well that night, he said.
So, without waking his wife, he rose around
5:30 a.m. and began walking on the beach.
He said he felt extremely calm as he walked.
At one point, he came across a small bonfire,
though no one was around. Then he saw the
“I began to notice the bright orange-red
sunrise coming over the eastern hills as the
sky began to change colors,” he said. “In
the distant western sky, it was still dark and
gloomy from the storms around the island.
Suddenly, as the sun began to rise further, I
saw the most beautiful double rainbow over
the other distant islands. The sky reminded
me of puy pink, blue and orange cotton
candy as the sunrise worked its way around
the distant stormy skies. As I continued
to walk back to the hotel, I noticed sprays
of water in the distant waves. I [gave] a
closer look and realized I was watching
whales swimming and spraying water in the
He eventually returned to the hotel, where
Marie was still asleep, and started to reflect
on what he saw.
“I realized that God was talking to me,” he
said. “He held me in His hand, showing me
the miracles and beauty of His creation. The
calm I felt was Him telling me everything was
going to be all right. Marie was on her way to
a glorious place in Heaven. He was telling me
that I was going to be safe, too. I believe this
passionately from the depths of my heart and
my soul. I felt Jesus in my heart.”
Marie died several weeks later, on May 5,
He had met Marie about 25 years ago. She
was a receptionist at a law firm he worked
at. He invited her to lunch one day on her
birthday. They started dating. And then they
got married and had three children. They
moved from Chicago to Plainfield.
He went to Catholic grade school growing
up. He was an altar boy and attended a
Catholic high school.
“I always felt connected spiritually with
God,” said Hoeflinger, a parishioner at St.
Mary Immaculate Parish in Plainfield.
Marie, though, did not often attend Mass
with him. The only times were usually dur-
ing Christmas or Easter.
She developed a cough during the summer
of 2004. Tests revealed she had spots on
her lungs, though she didn’t smoke. She was
diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. She
started chemotherapy, which did not help. In
time, the disease spread to her brain.
At a certain point, with the urging of some
friends, he felt he needed to prepare her,
spiritually, to get closer to Jesus.
One day, coming home from the doctor’s
oce with his wife, Hoeflinger decided to
stop by St. Mary Immaculate Parish, where
a statute of Our Lady of Fatima was set up
on the church grounds. He wanted to have a
conversation with her about her need to get
closer to Christ in order to prepare herself
spiritually for when she died.
They held each other and cried. He asked
her if she was ready to accept Jesus as her
Savior and if she was mentally and spiritually
ready to take the journey into heaven. They
also recited the Apostles’ Creed.
“I had never prayed like that with her
before,” he said. “Never. At that moment she
finally let Christ into her life, and I felt she
was spiritually ready.”
She had been afraid before, but he said
he saw her more at peace after that. She also
received the Anointing of the Sick, which,
according to the Catechism, is defined this
way: “The special grace of the sacrament of
the Anointing of the Sick has as its eects:
the uniting of the sick person to the passion
of Christ, for his own good and that of the
whole Church; the strengthening, peace, and
courage to endure in a Christian manner the
suerings of illness or old age; the forgiveness
of sins, if the sick person was not able to
obtain it through the sacrament of penance;
the restoration of health, if it is conducive to
the salvation of his soul; the preparation for
passing over to eternal life.”
Since her death, he has had to play father
and mother to his three children: Kelly, 22;
Ryan, 16; and Erik, 9. His faith has helped
him cope, he said.
“You cope through prayer,” he said. “You
cope through asking for the Lord’s support
and asking for the wisdom to get through
a situation. It’s really amazing when you’re
in that continual daily connection in prayer
with God, whatever you’re doing, life doesn’t
seem as dicult.”
He has tried to pass on that strong faith to
One time, as part of his middle child’s
preparation process for Confirmation, they
had to keep a prayer journal in which they
read Scripture passages and wrote down and
discussed faith-sharing questions.
He recalled two questions from the journals.
The first question was “Have you ever
prayed for something and received ‘no’ for an
answer from God?” He said his son replied
by saying, “Yes, I prayed my mom would live
and not die from cancer.” The second part of
the question was, “Do you think God knows
best’? His son replied, “Yes.”
Another question, Hoeflinger said, was
“How has God shown his faithfulness to you?
His son replied,
“I’ve felt Him in
am very proud
and happy he
has felt the
hand of God in
He said he
has not been
angry at God at
any time since his wife’s death.
“I’ve accepted my faith 100 percent in
knowing this is God’s plan,” he said. “Is it
hard? Is it sad? Is it frustrating at times?
Absolutely. It’s His plan. Who knows what
would’ve been or could’ve been. This was His
plan. I don’t ask Him why; I just say, ‘Help
me cope. Help me understand. Help me be
the best I can be on this new journey because
there is nothing you can do about it.’ ”
What’s been the greatest lesson he’s
“If you truly believe in God and are truly
faithful to His plan, then you realize that
when you have a loss like I have had that it’s
not a permanent loss. It’s a temporary loss
because, if you truly believe in God’s plan,
you truly believe then that your eternal life is
not here but in heaven. That’s where she is,
and one day we will be together again, and
meanwhile you have to continue to live out
God’s plan the best way you can and let His
life shine through you and your family and
live your life by the commandments.”
But if Hoeflinger had to sum what advice
he would give to others who are facing a trial,
he said it would be to turn to Christ.
“What people need to get out of my faith
journey is that they should not be afraid to
ask Jesus to come into their lives and to ask
God to hold them in His hand and help
them,” he said. “It’s an easy gesture if it’s done
with passion and love in your heart. It was
a miracle for my wife, and it can happen to
anyone who has the courage to ask Jesus for
that same relationship. It’s truly that simple.”
24 Christ is our Hope / December 2011 / Dioceseofjoliet.org
Story and photography by Carlos Briceño 25
The Gift of Christmas
Giving Hope to Those in Need
Charities and Christ is our Hope magazine have collaborated to
offer the Gift of Christmas charitable campaign. To help others in need this
Christmas season, read the following stories, choose a family to support and
make a donation to Catholic Charities. Give others hope this holiday season!
Claudia and her five children recently
became homeless after a domestic violence
situation left her suddenly single and unable
to aord housing for her large family.
They are staying with Claudia’s sister until
they can get into an aordable apartment.
It’s been a challenging year emotionally and
financially, and Claudia’s young children
would love to have presents for Christmas.
Your gift of $300 could help purchase gifts
for this family.
Kelly has a chronic disease that caused her
to become paralyzed from the waist down.
She cannot work or drive, but is responsible
for her four children. Despite these dicult
circumstances, Kelly remains cheerful. Your
gift of $250 would purchase household
items and clothing for this family.
Grace is a senior who has lived with paranoid
schizophrenia for many years. She is
a great advocate for herself and others with
similar challenges. She lives on a very low
income and is unable to pay for anything
beyond her basic needs. Your gift of $150
would pay for the Tai Chi classes Grace
wants to take to help manage her stress.
Nia is six months pregnant with her third
child and is working with a nurse in Catholic
Charities’ Expectant Mothers Initiative.
She recently graduated from college and is
eager to find a job with her new degree, but
is currently unemployed and concerned
that she won’t be able to buy Christmas gifts
for her children this year. Your gift of $200
would buy clothes and toys for this family.
Mona and Jason are struggling to pay
their bills with one part-time income.
These loving parents volunteer in their
3-year-old daughter’s Head Start classroom.
They live with Jason’s mother, but hope to
rent their own apartment soon. Your gift
of $250 could get this family basic necessities
and also something special for their
When Alex’s wife of 16 years was killed in
a tragic accident this fall, he became a single
dad to the couple’s five children. While the
family grieves this sudden loss, Alex also
struggles to pay bills, provide basic necessities
for his children and continue to pay
funeral costs. Your gift of $300 could give
Alex and his family a bright Christmas.
Josefina works hard to provide for her
large family, but her limited income barely
covers the cost of food. Despite their challenges,
Josefina’s teenagers are all honor roll
students. Josefina would like to buy clothing
and bedding for her children – and a
new vacuum. Your gift of $300 would help
make that happen.
Imani and her two children stayed in a
refugee camp in a war-torn country after her
husband was killed. After barely surviving
her time in the camp with very little food or
clean water, the family came to the United
States. Although Imani spoke very little
English and suered from Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder when she arrived in the U.S.,
she is flourishing with help from Catholic
Charities’ SHIFT program, a Permanent
Supportive Housing Program for homeless
families in DuPage County. Your gift of
$150 could allow Imani to buy gifts for her
children this Christmas.
John is 55 years old and lives alone with his
dog in a mobile home. He suers from de-
mentia in addition to several other medical
problems. When Catholic Charities began
helping John, he was behind in his rent and
in danger of eviction. He had no food and
couldn’t remember the last time he’d eaten.
He’s now getting caught up on rent and
benefiting from home-delivered meals. John
would like to buy a vacuum to help clean
up the pet hair in his home. Your gift of
$150 would make this happen.
Amanda is facing an unplanned
pregnancy. She’s working with a case
manager from Catholic Charities’
Maternity Services Program and is
deciding between adoption and parenting
her child. Amanda is unable to work
during her pregnancy and needs to buy
household essentials. Your gift of $150
could help Amanda get these items.
Nicole is known for her strength and
determination to make a better life for her
five children. She and her family recently
escaped a violent relationship and ended
up at a Catholic Charities’ homeless
shelter. With little income and no family
support, Nicole was in a tough situation.
However, she found a job, saved money
and rented an apartment with help from
Catholic Charities. The family is looking
forward to spending their first Christmas
together, safe in their new home. Your gift
of $300 could help Nicole obtain household
items for her new apartment.
Sofia suered major brain
trauma when she was
beaten by her husband.
After sustaining this horrible
injury, she became a homeless
single mother with
no income and very little
family support. Catholic
Charities helped Sofia rent a
home where she can recover
and keep her family safe.
Although her own personal
struggles could be overwhelming,
Sofia’s top priority
is caring for her children.
The whole family needs
coats and boots for winter.
Your gift of $250 would make this happen.
Ana has custody of her two young nieces
and works hard to provide a safe and loving
life for them. She is proud of recently
becoming a Certified Nurses’ Assistant and
hopes that, with her new certification, she
can find a new job and move the family to
a better neighborhood because her current
job barely pays the bills. Your gift of $150
could help this family buy winter clothes
and a few new toys for Christmas.
Jasmine entered Catholic Charities’
Transitional Housing Program after she
courageously left her abusive husband
while she was pregnant and had three
other young children. She returned to work
immediately after her baby was born and
is working hard to take care of her family.
Jasmine needs professional clothes for her
new job, in addition to diapers and other
household items. Your gift of $250 could
make this happen.
Kiara had a tough childhood and now that
she’s a mom her main goal is ensuring that
her children receive the best education
and attend top colleges. Her children
participate in Catholic Charities’ Head
Start program to gain the experiences
that she was not fortunate enough to
receive. As a single mom, Kiara struggles
with meeting the basic needs of her five
children. Your gift of $300 would provide
this family with the warm winter clothing
they desperately need.
Marie is a senior who was the victim of
financial exploitation for many years. She
lives on a very limited income and came to
Catholic Charities for help because her bills
were going unpaid and she was ashaned
to lose her utilities. After working with a
case manager at Catholic Charities, Marie
has caught up on her bills. She would be
thrilled with new sheets for her bed and a
blanket for winter. Your gift of $150 would
make this happen.
Cassandra is a mom to four young girls
who became homeless last year and stayed
at Catholic Charities’ Hope House shelter.
Now the family lives in Catholic Charities’
Transitional Housing, and Cassandra works
two jobs in an eort to pay o her debts
and save money for her own place. Your gift
of $250 would help Cassandra purchase a
home computer to take online classes.
Although Shanice hadn’t intended to
become pregnant, she chose life and is optimistic
about parenting her child. Shanice’s
pregnancy is considered high-risk because
she struggles with mental illness. With the
help of her case manager from Catholic
Charities’ Maternity Services Program, she’s
reading books and taking classes to learn
how to be a good parent. Your gift of $150
would help Shanice buy baby items to
prepare for her bundle of joy.
To read about many more families in need and how you can help, visit
Catholic Charities’ website at www.catholiccharitiesjoliet.org and click on
the Gift of Christmas logo at the top of the page.
• Monetary gifts can be made for the Gift of Christmas in several ways:
call (815) 724-1140;
• Make your gift online using your credit card at www.catholiccharitiesjoliet.org
and clicking on the Gift of Christmas logo at the top of the page.
• Or, send a check payable to Catholic Charities. Mail it to Catholic Charities,
Gift of Christmas, at 203 N. Ottawa Street, Joliet, IL 60432.
For more information, call Maggie Pielsticker at (815) 724-1165 or
send her an email at email@example.com.
26 Christ is our Hope / December 2011 / Dioceseofjoliet.org
Story by Maggie Pielsticker | Photography by Carlos Briceño
Reflexiones de fe
La Luz que nos Enceguece
este tiempo santo, los
libros de oraciones presentan
un himno que nos invitan a
pensar en el gran misterio del
amor de Dios:
Al seno de Madre santa
baja gracia celestial,
y el vientre de la doncella
lleva un fruto divinal.
En nuestros cantos se entrelazan la figura de la Virgen María
y del Salvador del mundo.
No podría ser de otro modo, pues, desde el anuncio del ángel
Gabriel, María se hace madre y el Creador se hace criatura.
¡Qué verdad tan Misteriosa! ¡Qué misterio tan Amoroso!
La luminosidad nos enceguece, tal como ocurre cuando miramos
el sol. El sol no se apaga, sigue brillando como siempre;
sin embargo, nuestros ojos se vuelven
incapaces de absorber tanta luz.
María, la bella joven de Nazareth;
María, la morenita del Tepellac: ¡Bendita
tú que llevaste por nueve meses al Salvador
del Mundo en tu seno!
María, cuéntame: ¿qué miró Dios en
ti, que te llamó para tan gozoso encargo?
María, que nos regalaste tu plasmada
imagen en la tilma de san Juan Dieguito,
cuéntame ¿cómo fueron esos nueve
meses de maternidad?
María, ¿qué hubo en tu corazón al no
encontrar un espacio aquella noche de
diciembre? ¿Qué sintió tu corazón al recibir al Creador en aquel
lugar dedicado a los animalillos? Cuéntame, Morenita mía, lo
que sentiste, viviste, pensaste. Dime tú, la llena de gracia, tu
alegría, tu contento, tu jubilo, al ver al niño Dios envuelto en tu
Y, a través de María, nos llega el Salvador del mundo, cuyo
nacimiento, desborda el pensamiento de todo mortal. Una vez
más, la luminosidad de Dios nos enceguece. Una vez más,
reconocemos y ensalzamos la grandeza y el amor profundo
de Dios por todos y cada uno de nosotros. ¡Qué dios es más
grande que nuestro Dios! Nuestro Dios ha visitado y redimido
a su pueblo. Dios ha llegado a tu casa y a la mía, ha compartido
con nosotros el Pan del Cielo y nos ha ofrecido la salvación.
En este tiempo, se canta las virtudes de María, la joven y humilde
mujer de Nazareth; como también, la misericordia y bondad
de Dios que llega ha establecerse en medio de su pueblo.
Es imposible hablar de Jesús, sin hacer referencia a María.
Es imposible evangelizar, evitando decir el nombre de quien
Christ is our Hope / December 2011 / Dioceseofjoliet.org
Por la fe concibe al Hijo,
no por obra de varón;
y su seno casto y puro
se toma templo de Dios.
tuvo en sus brazos al Salvador de todo ser humano. Tal vez,
por eso, con mucha sencillez, pero reconociendo también que
Dios ha hecho grandes maravillas en ella, expresa con una
alegría desbordante una verdad profética: “Desde ahora, todas
las generaciones me llamarán la llena de gracia.”Y eso es tan
cierto, que lo empezó diciendo el ángel Gabriel, su prima Isabel
y, a lo largo de la historia, la Iglesia Católica no ha dejado de
reconocer las bondades y misericordias
que Dios ha tenido con María, Madre del
Salvador. Pasarán los años y donde quiera
que se proclame la grandeza de Dios, la
misericordia de Jesucristo, la salvación del
ser humano, el nombre de María también
Este tiempo santo de Adviento y
Navidad, nos invita a renovar nuestra
fe, esperanza y caridad en Jesucristo y
su Iglesia. Este tiempo es una invitación
a dejar la envidia, el rencor, el enojo. Es
una invitación a ser mejor cristiano, mejor
hijo, mejor hermano, mejor amigo, mejor
esposo y esposa. Es un tiempo de gracia, es un tiempo que nos
debe llevar a la eternidad.
El himno de nuestra Iglesia durante este tiempo, refresca
la profecía de María, recordándonos a la llena de gracia: “Tu
vientre se hace templo de Dios.”
También, el mismo himno nos
expresa: “Se dará a luz a la Luz del
mundo.” La luminosidad de Dios nos
enceguece y nos fortalece.
Hermanos y hermanas,
hemos sido salvados en
Jesús, en aquel niño que
María tiene en su regazo.
¡Feliz tú que crees!
Y dio a luz la luz del mundo,
al que Gabriel anunció,
al que encerrado en su seno
el Bautista presintió.
Miguel Moreno es el Director de la Oficina Diocesana
del Ministerio Hispano. Usted puede comunicarse con él a
El artículo por Miguel Moreno
Diocese Promotes the Sacred Heart
Devotion in Catholic School System
Father John Belmonte, SJ, the diocesan superintendent
for Catholic Schools, wanted to
unite Catholic school children across the diocese
in prayer and to get them closer to Jesus.
And one idea he had to do this was to create
“Perfect Friendship: A Sacred Heart Project,”
which promotes devotion to the Sacred Heart
of Jesus, helps develop the devotional life
of children and adults and implements the
Catholic identity strategy called forth in the
strategic plan for schools.
The project started on Oct. 17, which was
the feast day of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque,
who is widely credited as one of the people
responsible for spreading the devotion after
seeing visions of Jesus that started in late
1673 and lasted for 18 months. In the visions,
Jesus told her she would be instrumental
in spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart.
“The Sacred Heart of Jesus is an inexhaustible
fountain and its sole desire is to pour
itself out into the hearts of the humble so as
to free them…” she wrote in a letter. “From
this divine heart three streams flow endlessly.
The first is the stream of mercy for sinners;
it pours into their hearts sentiments of
contrition and repentance. The second is the
stream of charity which helps all in need and
especially aids those seeking perfection in
order to find the means of surmounting their
diculties. From the third stream flows love
and light for the benefit of His friends who
have attained perfection….”
A special day of training was held in mid-
October at the St. Charles Pastoral Center in
Romeoville, during which Catholic school
children from around the diocese attended
to learn about the devotion and to go back to
their schools to teach their fellow classmates
about the devotion.
One of the school children who attended
the training day was Aylin Padilla, an
8th-grade student at St. Andrew School in
“I think it is really good that we get to
come out and represent our school so we
might be able to teach the younger ones
about it,” she said. “It’s pretty important to
learn about the Sacred Heart. We get to know
more about Jesus.”
Prayer activities and catechesis on the
devotion are being held at the schools every
Friday through mid-February, which is the
ending date of the project. A consecration to
the Sacred Heart Mass will be held on Feb.
23, with Bishop R. Daniel Conlon presiding.
Teachers at the schools have been encour-
aged to coordinate activities and lessons at their
individual schools and develop materials for
families at their homes, while parents have been
encouraged to promote family prayer activities
and home enthronement to the Sacred Heart
A teacher who also attended the October
training day said she went through years of
Catholic schools growing up, but she never
heard about the Sacred Heart devotion.
“It is something I can use as an adult,” said
Rhonda Johnson of Immaculate Conception
School in Morris, who teaches fourth and fifth
grades. “This is a new outlook on how we look
at our faith.”
The Diocese Celebrates the Many Years of Service by Those in the Religious Life
Bishop R. Daniel Conlon celebrated a Mass honoring those who are in their jubilee years in the religious life in mid October. The following are
the jubilarians living and/or working in the diocese (listed with their order abbreviations and years of service):
Sister Bernita Hessling, SSND
Sister Rita Greene, OSF
Sister M. Judith Kurry, OSF
Sister Johanna Murphy, SSCM
Reverend Louis B. Antl, OFM
Sister Cabrini Ganz, SSND
Sister Agnes Kulas, OSF
Sister Mildred Slabenak, OSB
Sister Marcellita M. Weller, OSF
Sister Mary Patricia Fallon, OSB
Sister M. Josephine Kallus, OSB
Sister Mary Virginia Kallus, OSB
Sister Marlene Bemis, OSF
Sister Dorothy Birk, OSF
Sister Eleanor Blake, OSF
Sister M. Yvonne Brais, SSCM
Reverend Warren Carlin, O.
Sister Marguerite Caulfield,
Sister Elizabeth Crotty, IBVM
Sister Julianne Diebold, OSF
Sister M. Francis Gresser, OSM
Siste Benita Jasurda, OSB
Sister Rosemary Lynch, IBVM
Sister Evelyn McCloskey, IBVM
Sister Jerome Marie Menard,
Sister Anna Marie Metz, OSF
Sister Thomas Leo Monahan,
Sister Rosemary Rafter, SP
Brother Bernard Rapp, FSC
Sister Barbara Rowan, OSF
Brother Nicholas Schumer, FSC
Sister Josephine Sincak, SFCC
Sister Mary DePaul Stava, OSB
Sister Patricia Ann Wagner,
Sister M. del Rey Waite, IBVM
Sister Patricia J. Walsh, OP
Sister Mary Lou Wcislo, IBVM
Reverend Donald R. Wehnert,
Sister Helen Zulka, OSF
Sister Louise K. Bernier, OSF
Reverend Robert Colaresi, O.
Sister Catherine Cox, OP
Sister Alice Drewek, OSF
Reverend James F. Fanale, CSV
Sister Ann Freiburg, OSF
Sister Madelyn Gould, OSF
Reverend John Guiney, SMA
Sister Judith Ann Heble, OSB
Sister Helen Kavanaugh, CND
Sister Martha Kienzler, OSF
Sister Mary Martin, O. Carm.
Sister Lois Prebil, OSF
Reverend R. William Sullivan,
Sister Elaine Teders, OSF
Sister Juanita Regine Ujcik,
Brother Thomas Dominic
Sister Linda K. Hatton, SSCM
Brother Christopher Ford, FSC
Sister Kamila Wojdyla, MChR
Sixth-grade students from St. James the Apostle School in Glen Ellyn recently dressed as their patron saints and/or their
favorite saints on All Saints’ Day as part of a school tradition, giving them the opportunity to learn about the lives of these
saints. During the Mass, which was presided by Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, they processed into the Mass and gathered
afterward for a photo with the bishop.
The Diocesan Pastoral Council: An
Advisory Board to the Bishop
The Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC)
consists of lay members, clergy and religious
who meet every three months as an
advisory board to the bishop. According to
their mission statement, they are “called to
dialogue and reflect on the directions of the
During their most recent meeting in
early October, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon
spoke of his hope to enlist the DPC to assist
him in shaping the pastoral direction for
the diocese, said Sharon Pierscionek, the
council’s vice chairperson and a parishioner
at Christ the King in Lombard.
With that in mind, the Council created a
list of 33 suggested topics to be presented
to the four regional commissions for
consideration – and who will then return
to the full DPC with a list of four priorities.
Some of the topics include figuring
out how to assist those in financial distress
while community programs diminish;
promoting marriage; and encouraging
In addition to the clergy and religious
who serve on the council, each diocesan
cluster has two representatives, one man
and one woman, who meet with the parishes
of their clusters, said Tom Kappel, the
Council’s recording secretary and a parishioner
at Ss. Peter and Paul in Naperville.
Following the cluster meetings, written
reports are filed and then presented at the
next full council meeting.
“Bishop Conlon wants to know what’s
on the parishes’ minds and where the diocese
can essentially be of the most help,”
Another big aspect of the DPC is its
A Mass for persons with disabilities was celebrated on Oct. 16 at Holy Family Parish
in Shorewood. The brunch after the Mass was provided by the Joliet Chapter of
the Knights of Columbus. The volunteers were from several councils from around the
Diocese, including the Father Frank Anksorus Council 6521, who did all the cooking,
and officers of the Joliet Chapter. Several of the volunteers pose during the brunch with
Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, who presided at the Mass.
role in organizing the Diocesan Assembly,
which is held every two years. According
to Kappel, “It usually has a significant
theme and the whole diocese is involved.
There’s a prominent speaker, and it’s a real
shot in the arm to the participants from our
parishes who attend. It’s an invigorating
Annual Collection Provides Support
for 34,000 Elderly Sisters, Brothers,
Priests in Religious Orders
The 24th national collection for the Retirement
Fund for Religious will be taken up
in most U.S. parishes on Dec. 10-11. Sponsored
by the National Religious Retirement
Oce in Washington, the annual appeal
asks Catholics to Share in the Care of more
than 34,000 women and men religious past
age 70 who benefit from the collection.
As religious continue to age, fewer mem-
bers are able to serve in compensated ministry,
leading to a sharp decrease in income. By 2019,
National Religious Retirement Oce data
projects that retired religious will outnumber
wage-earning religious by nearly four to one.
For more information, visit www.retiredreligious.org.
Join Bishop Conlon and Bishop Siegel in a
Pilgrimage to Ireland
Bishop R. Daniel Conlon and Auxiliary
Bishop Joseph M. Siegel will be going to the
50th International Eucharistic Congress in
Dublin, Ireland, from June 9-19, 2012. Join
them on this pilgrimage of faith, which will
also include other cities and sites of interest to
Catholics in Ireland. The cost is $3,498 per
person. For more information and to register,
contact Patrick McKenna at 800-206-TOUR,
ext. 109, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or go
Barbara Gfesser Frank Stock
30 Christ is our Hope / December 2011 / Dioceseofjoliet.org
reaches you each
month courtesy of
your parish and the
Diocese of Joliet
Maternity BVM Church in Bourbonnais
St. Walter Church in Roselle
St. Anthony Church in Frankfort