January 31, 2021

ANNUAL CATHOLIC APPEAL (ACA)

This weekend, throughout the Archdiocese, is the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) Announcement Weekend. This year's theme is "Come, follow me...and bring hope to the world." Many Catholics, throughout the Archdiocese, will be receiving the Annual Catholic Appeal mailing from Cardinal Cupich soon.

The Annual Catholic Appeal offers a wonderful opportunity to answer Jesus’ call to “Come, follow me ... and bring hope to the world.” This is especially important during these trying and challenging times. Many in our parishes are affected financially by the pandemic, and we encourage giving at all levels to support this initiative.  In addition to providing for ministries and services throughout the archdiocese, the Annual Catholic Appeal funds services in our own area.

When we financially support the work of St. Peter's Church, the archdiocese and the Catholic Church throughout the world, we experience a feeling of deep gratitude, especially when we contemplate God’s many gifts to us personally. By sharing our wealth through gifts to the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal, we demonstrate our commitment to the Church and each other.

Due to COVID protocols and the continuing need to provide safe guidelines at Masses the usual ACA collection in-pew procedures will not be used this year. As a directive I received recently stated,  “This year’s appeal is slightly different from other years because we are not collecting in-pew pledge forms." Rather, you will have the option to pick up a mail-in giving envelope located in the back of the church where the envelopes are available this weekend.

Another alternate will be to make your gift to the ACA online. As the note I received from the Archdiocese indicated, “We highly encourage you to consider making your gift online this year." It only takes a few simple steps and is secure. You can visit the website annualcatholicappeal.com to make your pledge online. You will also find in this weekend's bulletin or at the exit to church a pamphlet, "Come, Follow Me... and bring hope to the world," that further explains how funds raised through the Annual Catholic Appeal helps support the ministry of the Church here in the Archdiocese.

This weekend I am preaching at all the Masses about the ministries that are supported through the ACA and how we here at St. Peter's also benefit in keeping our ministries active in order to serve those who come to St. Peter's.

LENTEN SEASON

Last week the Liturgy Committee of St. Peter's met to discuss how we might be able to celebrate Lent and Ash Wednesday this year here at St. Peter's in light of the pandemic. As I mentioned in last week's bulletin, I recently received Guidelines for Lent and Holy Week - 2021 celebrations in the Archdiocese. Because of the ongoing danger of the COVID virus every church in the Archdiocese will need to continue to follow established protocols to help stop the spread of the disease.

While how we celebrate Ash Wednesday, Lent and Holy Week this year of 2021 may look very different than what is our usual practices, how we celebrate this year is meant to help safeguard the health and well being of everyone coming to church and at the same time to remind us of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord. As Bishop Casey wrote to all the pastors recently, "In a special way, I pray during this upcoming Lenten season we will all unite ourselves more closely to Jesus' own Passion and Way of the Cross. With complete and childlike trust in Him, we will be led to the joy of Easter Sunday."

Below you will find some very specific description of how we will celebrate Ash Wednesday here at St. Peter's following the directives of the Archdiocese and health protocols.

1) Next weekend, February 6-7 we will have the annual Blessing of St. Blase for diseases of the throat and other illness after the Masses. The formula that will be used this year is praying the prayer of blessing everyone gathered in church. There will NOT be individual blessings this year. The blessing will be given at the conclusion of Mass.

2) Please note this very important change for Ash Wednesday this year..........Ashes will only be given at one of the Prayer Services or Masses on Ash Wednesday. The ashes will be distributed in the following manner as directed by the Sacred Congregation in Rome and Archdiocese Guidelines....

After blessing the ashes and sprinkling them with holy water in silence, the priest address those present, reciting once the formula found in the Roman Missal: "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" or "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return." The priest then puts on a face mask and a shield, sanitizes his hands and distributes ashes to those who come forward.

The ashes are sprinkled on each person's head without saying anything.

3) Due to the danger of the coronavirus we must follow the safety protocols we have been using for Masses the past few months. We will offer a number of prayer services with the distribution of Ashes and three Masses on Ash Wednesday. You MUST call and register to attend one of the services or Mass. There is a capacity limit on how many people can attend these services. The Ash Wednesday schedule for Services and Masses will be found elsewhere in today's bulletin as well as on the insert and on the church web site and Facebook page.

4) Confessions on Ash Wednesday are scheduled from 10:30am until 3:00pm. There will be two priests on duty for confessions on Ash Wednesday. The schedule for confessions during Lent are Monday - Saturday from 10:30am - 3:00pm.

5) Weekday Masses during Lent are Monday-Friday at 11:40am and 1:15pm.

6) Lenten Programs are available on either Zoom or YouTube. Details on programs will be found in the bulletin or on St. Peter's web site at: www.stpetersloop.org

We know some of the ways we will have to journey through Lent and Holy Week this year will be different and perhaps difficult. As Bishop Casey encouraged us..... that no matter how we celebrate Lent let us resolve, In a special way that... during this upcoming Lenten season we will all unite ourselves more closely to Jesus' own Passion and Way of the Cross.

On Ash Wednesday we will pray...... "O God, who are moved by acts of humility and respond with forgiveness to works of penance, lend your merciful ear to our prayers and in your kindness pour out the grace of your blessing on your servants who are marked with these ashes, that, as they follow the Lenten observances, they may be worthy to come with minds made pure to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of your Son."

May these words guide us all throughout the upcoming 2021 Lenten season. We will give more information and details in next week's bulletin and on the church web site.

Fr. Michael