Today throughout the world many Catholics will gather in churches, shrines and other sacred places to reflect upon God’s mercy in their life and to ask for God’s mercy for others. This Second Sunday of Easter was given the designation “Mercy Sunday” by Pope John Paul II in the millennium year of 2000.
In an outline for a homily he planned to give in April 2005 (which was Divine Mercy Sunday that year) was this reflection. “To humanity, which at times seems to be lost and dominated by the power of evil, selfishness, and fear, the risen Lord offers the gift of his love that pardons, reconciles and opens the soul to hope. It is love that converts hearts and brings peace. ... How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy!” In this time in history where war, violence, stress and unsettledness deeply affects so many people, let us all pray that God's mercy may come upon all who are in need of healing at this time.
I offer a very grateful THANK YOU to our musicians, cantors, readers, ushers, greeters, sacristan, church decorators, security personnel, friars, church staff, benefactors and everyone who came to St. Peter's during the Lenten, Holy Week and Easter services. Because of your great devotion to the Lord and the ministry here at St. Peter's, the past few weeks have been a prayerful time and powerful witness to our city. May God bless all of you for your generous help. Let us continue to do all we can to help prevent the spread of COVID, and continue to pray for an end to the horrific war in Ukraine and the violence on our city streets and in our neighborhoods.
Today (Sunday, April 24) a free concert, "Standing Together for Peace", will be held at the Chicago Loop Synagogue, 16 South Clark Street, Chicago. This free concert is a fundraiser for the Jewish United Fund Ukrainian Relief Fund (juf.org/ukraine). Along with the Jewish United Fund, the Chicago Loop Synagogue, St. Paul Church of God in Christ, St. Peter's Church is also helping sponsor this event. This concert begins at 4:00 pm today and I encourage you to attend. More information will be found on the posters in our lobby and also on flyers available in church. And as I mentioned above, please continue to pray for end to this war and peace among all people of our world.
A few months ago, under the direction of Fr. Ed McKenzie, OFM, a member of the staff here at St. Peter's and himself a Vietnam Veteran, we began collecting items to help Vets who have been "on the street" get established in housing. As Fr. Ed indicates there is still much more work to do to help provide decent housing for those who have helped protect us all through their service.
Fr. Ed shares below a brief letter of gratitude to so many of you who have generously helped.
You may have noticed the “trash can” in our lobby as you come into the church and wondered about it. Well, it’s not a trash can! Inside that container is something MUCH greater than trash! It represents a generosity to our Veterans on the streets who are “down on their luck” and need a helping hand. It is filled with so many good things that such people need and you can provide! Let me be clear, this is not a “handout” it’s a “hand up!”
You have been so generous in giving from your hearts so that others can live with some dignity, a dignity that is absent from so many homeless veterans. Your generosity makes a basic dignity a possibility for so many and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart! I speak for my brother and sister veterans because so often they have no voice at all! Thank you for helping them and continue to give and help make their day and their lives a little brighter!
We collect things that you bring here and distribute them at Jesse Brown VA here in Chicago. It is gratefully received by so many. It really is a great need in our city and in the country in general.
We spend our time getting veterans off the streets and into apartments. We give them a bed in exchange for the cardboard they have been sleeping on. We give them “move-in” essentials for their one room apartments. Simple things and not expensive at all. Stuff you get at the Dollar Store, ordinary stuff, shower curtains, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, a clock - do you get the idea? All the stuff that we take for granted. Use your imagination! All the VA gives them is a key to four walls and a roof. They are on their own when it comes to the other little “stuff” that makes a house a home!
Anyway, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your generosity in the past and please continue to be generous in the future. The need is not “going away” any time soon!
+ God bless you and give you His peace! +
Fr. Ed McKenzie, ofm
Now that Lent and Holy Week have concluded we are resuming activities to celebrate the last few months of the 175th Anniversary of St. Peter's Church. I have listed below a couple of upcoming events and encourage you to mark your calendars now and plan to attend any of these celebrations.
On Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4 we will host a concert with the world premiere of "The Nature Suite" composed by Fr. Robert Hutmacher, OFM (the Guardian of the Franciscan Friars community at St. Peter's.). The Chicago Sinfonietta will be performing this wonderful reflective music at the concert. A number of other music selections will also be performed. If you want a preview of Fr. Bob's composition, CD's are presently available in our Book/Gift shop here at St. Peter's. More details about the concert will be available in the coming weeks.
On Thursday, July 14 we will have our annual Gala fund raising event for St. Peter's Church. After two years of needing to do the Gala virtually, we will return to the Union League Club to have the Gala in person. More details and tickets will soon be available in the church lobby. This is our biggest fund raising event of the year to help support the ministries here at St. Peter's. Hopefully many of you will be able to attend.
We will conclude our 175th Anniversary of the Church with a special Mass on Sunday, August 14, 2022 at 11:00 am. Cardinal Blase Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago will preside and preach at this special Mass. We are grateful to Cardinal Cupich for his willingness to join us for this special Mass.
On this Mercy Sunday, I invite you to reflect upon the following message of Pope Francis given last Sunday during his Urbi et Orbi message to all the world:
Dear brothers and sisters,
Every war brings in its wake consequences that affect the entire human family: from grief and mourning to the drama of refugees, and to the economic and food crisis, the signs of which we are already seeing. Faced with the continuing signs of war, as well as the many painful setbacks to life, Jesus Christ, the victor over sin, fear and death, exhorts us not to surrender to evil and violence. Brothers and sisters, may we be won over by the peace of Christ! Peace is possible; peace is a duty; peace is everyone’s primary responsibility!
May you have a blessed and safe Second Week of Easter!