Each summer parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago are asked to host a Mission Appeal from various mission areas of the world. This year St. Peter's will host Fr. Dennis Vargas a priest of the Diocese of Lucena in Quezon Province, the Philippines. Fr. Vargas will speak at all the weekend Masses, next weekend, August 12 and August 13, about the ministry needs in his home diocese.
The Diocese of Lucena is in Quezon Province, Philippines. It was canonically established and erected on September 8, 1950. At present, it has 42 parishes that shepherd to 987,412 Catholics. The diocese is headed by Most Rev. Mel Rey M. Uy, D.D. with 120 diocesan priests. Among these priests, there are about 15 retired priests who are residing in different parishes, diocesan institutions, or family relative residences. After 73 years of existence of the diocese, the bishop deemed it necessary to build a RETIREMENT HOME for the sick and retired priests of the diocese. The retirement home is specifically designed to provide community and family atmosphere among old and retired priests. Likewise, it will provide facilities that will cater to their spiritual, mental and physical health. Aware of financial constraints of the diocese for such a huge project, we are making an appeal for monetary help from the generosity of Catholics in the first world countries.
Born in Atimonan, Quezon, Philippines, Father Dennis Vargas attended school in the Philippines, high school at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Seminary in Sariaya, Quezon, college at St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Lipa City and studied theology at St. Alphonsus Regional Seminary in Lucena City. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Ruben T. Profugo of the Diocese of Lucena on Sept. 8, 2001.
Since arriving in the Diocese of Rockford, Father Vargas has served as parochial vicar at St John Neumann Church, St Charles (2018-2020). From there, he has been parochial administrator of St. Mary Catholic Church, East Dubuque, since June 15, 2020.
ST. CLARE OF ASSISI
Friday, August 11 is, for Franciscans throughout the world, a special day to celebrate the feast of St. Clare of Assisi. Clare was born in 1193 into a family of the nobility of Assisi, Italy. As a young girl, she showed great compassion for the poor and devotion to prayer. Hearing Francis of Assisi and his followers preach, she felt the call to follow their way of life in living the Gospel. Though facing great opposition by her father and brothers, Clare secretly went to the small church of Our Lady of Angels on Palm Sunday in 1212 and was received into religious life by Francis.
At the time of Clare, all religious nuns lived behind cloistered walls. Initially, Clare and her followers lived with the Benedictine sisters but eventually were able to move to the church of San Damiano in Assisi where a convent was established for the sisters. Because the culture of the Middle Ages and Church regulations would not allow women religious outside the cloister, Clare, and “the Poor Ladies” as they were called, devoted themselves to a life of prayer and sacrifice.
All her life, Clare fought (even the Pope!) for “the privilege of poverty.” It was only on her deathbed that Pope Innocent IV relented and signed the papal document giving that privilege to Clare and all the “Poor Clares” who would follow after her. Clare was canonized in 1255, two years after her death.
As the premier Franciscan saint, after Francis of Assisi, we honor St. Clare as a woman who fought to live the Gospel as faithfully as she saw Francis and his followers trying to follow Christ. I pray each one of us who worship here at St. Peter’s may have such passion and grace from God to follow the Gospel as Christ leads us. Let us keep in our prayers today our Poor Clare sisters throughout the world as they celebrate “Our Holy Mother Clare.”
PRAY FOR PEACE
Seventy-eight years ago today (August 6, 1945), Hiroshima, Japan became the first city to be destroyed by an atomic bomb. The summer of 1945 after years of fierce battles in World War II, the decision was made to use the new atomic bomb in an effort to speed up the end of the war. A few days later a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945. Nagasaki was the center of the Catholic community of Japan. It is estimated over 9,500 Catholics died and thousands of others in the blast of the bomb. On August 15, 1945, the Emperor of Japan announced the end of the war and surrender to the Allies.
Since the end of World War II, the world has lived with the threat of nuclear destruction as weapons have grown more sophisticated and more nations and groups have tried to develop nuclear weapons. Today, we are very aware of North Korea's push to be a nuclear nation and the threat that may pose for the nations of the world. The occasional threat of some nations to use nuclear weapons even today is a cause for all nations and people of the world to work unceasingly for peace.
The Catholic Church through Papal statements, Conferences of Bishops and many activists have spoken out for an end to the threat of nuclear weapons and an end to the threat of terrorism. As we remember our brothers and sisters in the faith who were killed in Nagasaki in 1945, may each of us pledge to do our part to pray and work to bring peace to our world. Let us intercede with Mary, the Queen of Peace, to do our part to make the world a place of peace where justice is available to all.
HOLYDAY OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
On Tuesday, August 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 wrote 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.”
Remember that the Solemnity of the Assumption (August 15) is a holyday of obligation this year. We will have a Vigil Mass for the Assumption on Monday, August 14 at 5:00 pm and on Tuesday, August 15 Masses will be at 7:30 am, 11:40 am and at 1:15 pm.
MAY HE REST IN PEACE
Bishop John Manz, auxiliary bishop emeritus, Archdiocese of Chicago died on July 14, 2023. Bishop Manz was a great leader in the Archdiocese and beloved especially in the Hispanic community. He served on a number of committees of the US Bishops Conference also. As many people described Bishop Manz, "He loved people and those who he served loved him." The funeral for Bishop Manz was held at Holy Name Cathedral on July 26. May God welcome this faithful servant to everlasting life with our Savior.