ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
This weekend, August 14-15 we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On November 1, 1950 Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption of Mary to be a dogma of our faith. In his declaration he said, “We pronounce, declare and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma that the immaculate Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory.” The Church has held belief in the Assumption as far back as the fifth century. In the midst of our summer activities and vacation we pause this weekend to recall the important role Mary has played in salvation history. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI reflected a few years ago that, “…precisely because Mary is with God and in God, she is very close to each one of us. While she lived on this earth she could only be close to a few people. Being in God, who is actually ‘within’ all of us, Mary shares in this closeness to God.”
This week we will be having a meeting of our 175th Anniversary Committee. On Sunday, August 1, 2021 we began our year-long celebration with a festive Mass at 11:00am. Fr. Thomas Nairn, OFM, the Provincial of the Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart presided and preached at this Mass. Throughout the coming year we plan to have a number of special events to commemorate our 175 years here in the Loop. As we honor our history we also will explore ways in how we can best ministry to folks in the Loop in light of the impact of the COVID pandemic of the past two years. The anniversary committee will be scheduling various events throughout the coming year at our meeting this week. Continue to check our weekend bulletins, Facebook, posters in church and on the kiosk in front of the church and our web site for these special events and services. We will conclude our year-long celebration with a festive Mass next August 2022.
St. Peter's Church was established in 1846 to minister to the increasing German immigrant population in Chicago. The site chosen to build the first church was on the south side of Washington Street between Wells and Franklin Streets. The church building was completed that summer and dedicated on August 2, 1846. It was a frame building, forty feet wide and sixty feet long, with a seating capacity of 700. A Catholic school was located behind the church and the rectory was west of the church building. A diocesan priest, Fr. John Jung was the first appointed pastor. We will be sharing more information about our history in the coming year.
Sometime this month on Madison Street in front of the church you will see a couple of banners on the light poles announcing our 175th anniversary. The banners show an image of Old St. Peter's and our present church. A big Thank You to the generosity of some members of St. Peter's congregation that enabled us to install these banners,
A second meeting that will take place this week is our Gala Committee. Due to an increase in the possibility of further restrictions of increasing COVID dangers this year's Gala will be "virtual" as we did last year. The 7th annual St. Peter's Church Gala will be held on Saturday, October 2, 2021. The live stream is from 6:30pm - 8:00pm. You can register at: stpeters7thgala.givesmart.com Online auction bidding begins on September 27, 2021 at 10:00am. More information is available on our web site or you may call Mrs. Jo Ann Bednar (Communications & Events Director) at 312-853-2376.
The funds raised through our annual Gala are crucial to supporting our ministry here at St. Peter's Church. Since my arrival last year, I have been impressed and inspired by the generosity of so many of you who participated and contributed to last year's Gala. Your donations enabled us to continue keeping the church open and providing ministry to so many people who come to our doors. Fr. Mario DiCicco, OFM is again this year guiding the Gala Committee and providing us with insightful leadership. We hope that with your generosity again this year for the Gala we will continue to provide quality ministry to everyone who comes to St. Peter's Church.
As I write these words it is Sunday, August 8 and Masses are completed for this weekend. Unfortunately, this morning began with the news announcing the shooting death of a Chicago police officer and another officer shot and seriously injured during a traffic stop. The news also reported the shooting of over 45 people (4 fatally) since Saturday. I am at a loss to express how senseless this on-going violence is to our lives.
Last month Cardinal Archbishop Blase Cupich wrote a letter addressing the painful violence affecting our City and country. A copy was placed in our July 25, 2021 church bulletin. I hope you had a chance to read the Archbishop's reflections. In light of the continuing plague of violence touching all areas of Chicago, I urge you to read and reflect upon the Cardinal's thoughts. I have placed below some excerpts from his letter. I'll share more in next weekend's bulletin.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
In Chicago, in the metro area, and even more widely across our nation, we face a profoundly painful moment in our life together. So many families are grieving the loss of loved ones to violence, and those loved ones include babies and small children. The grief is compounded by the senselessness of the loss. Fear accompanies many of us as we go about our daily lives. We are afraid of becoming a victim of gun violence, or a carjacking, or an assault. And we are afraid not only for ourselves but also for the people we care for.
As we recover from the pandemic and embrace a more familiar way of life, the comfort of normalcy we had hoped for is being spoiled by a menacing violence that threatens all of us. Understandably, we want this horrifying situation resolved without delay. Government leaders and community activists have offered many ideas, for example: more effective policing, reforming the criminal justice system, stemming the flood of illegal guns, dismantling gangs, investment in historically disadvantaged neighborhoods, strengthening education and shoring up family life. I cannot claim special expertise in all these matters. But as a pastor, I can point to the underlying spiritual crisis that this violent and unstable situation has provoked.
When violence prompts grief, fear, and a loss of hope, as it always does, people feel alienated from one another. On one level, the fractures appear to be along the lines of race, ethnicity, economic class, and political affiliation. But it runs much deeper than that. We seem unable or unwilling to comprehend that we are inextricably connected with each other. Yet we truly are fratelli tutti, as Pope Francis put it — all brothers and sisters to each other. If we lose that sense of interconnectedness, we also lose our sense of compassion, empathy and responsibility for each other. And that counts as an incalculable spiritual loss, with profound consequences for how we live together as neighbors, as members of the same human family. In this light, I recall the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1964: “We must learn to live together as brothers [and sisters] or perish together as fools.” (St. Louis, March 22, 1964)
If we, the people of God, are to remain faithful to our identity and our calling, we must respond to the challenge to human solidarity that violence has provoked. At the same time, we can legitimately ask ourselves: What can we do? What difference can we make? How can we bridge the divides that separate us? Faith does not give us ready-made solutions to complex problems. Faith does give us hope that with God’s help we can move forward, and that we ought to move forward as best as we can.
May you have safe and prayer-filled week.