July 30, 2023


This weekend, I encourage you to be generous to the appeal of the Little Sisters of the Poor at our Masses to help in their challenging ministry to the elderly poor here in Chicago and in other places throughout the USA. For over 145 years, the Sisters have helped care for the elderly who are in need here in Chicago. I first met some of the sisters and their ministry when I was pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Indianapolis. When I was pastor at St. Anthony Parish in St. Louis, I was also impressed with the care and concern the sisters gave to many of the elderly in their facility in St. Louis. When some of the parishioners from St. Anthony's could no longer manage their own homes, they eventually moved to the Sisters’ Home. When the Sisters had to close the St. Louis home due to many reasons, some of the residents moved with the Sisters to the Little Sisters of the Poor facility in Kansas City.

The friars here at St. Peter's are especially grateful to the ministry of the Sisters who operate St. Mary's Home on the Northside. Fr. Wenceslaus Church, OFM now resides at St. Mary's Home and is doing wonderful with the care he is receiving from the Sisters and staff. Below I have listed some information from the Sisters’ website about this world-wide order of religious sisters who care for so many in their older years. 

The Little Sisters of the Poor are an international congregation of Roman Catholic women religious founded in 1839 by Saint Jeanne Jugan. Together, with a diverse network of collaborators, they serve the elderly poor in over 30 countries around the world. Continuing the work of Saint Jeanne Jugan, their MISSION is to offer the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they will be welcomed as Christ, cared for as family and accompanied with dignity until God calls them to himself. (For more information go to their website: https://littlesistersofthepoor.org)


On Wednesday, August 2 we celebrate a feast especially important to Franciscans. The Feast of Our Lady of the Angels of the Portiuncula honors Mary and commemorates a small chapel in the valley below Assisi where St. Francis gathered the early friars and reached out in service to others. St. Francis had great devotion to Mary, Queen of the world and when he saw that the church was deserted, he began to live there constantly and repair it.  He heard that the angels often visited it, so that it was called St. Mary of the Angels. It was at the Portiuncula that Francis founded the Order, received St. Clare as his spiritual daughter, and where he died commending this spot above all others to the friars. 

On a night in July, 1216, Francis was praying in the little church of the Portiuncula devoured by love for God and a thirst to save souls. He prayed for the forgiveness of sins of everyone. Suddenly, a brilliant light shone all around. In great splendor, Jesus and Mary appeared in the midst of a dazzling cloud surrounded by a multitude of radiant angels. Then Jesus said to him: “Francis you are very zealous for the good of souls. Ask me what you want for their salvation.”  St. Francis was speechless. When he regained his courage, he said: “Lord, I beg You to concede an indulgence to all those who enter this church, who are truly contrite and have confessed their sins. 

Jesus answered: “It is a very great thing that which you ask Me; but you are worthy of even greater things, Friar Francis, and greater things you will have. So I accept your request, but I want you to go to my Vicar (The Pope), to whom I have given the power to bind and loose in Heaven and on earth, to ask him on my behalf for this indulgence.”

With one of his companions, Francis hastened to Pope Honorius III and implored him to proclaim that everyone visiting the church and confessing their sins with a contrite heart would be as pure from all sin and punishments as he was immediately after baptism. The Pope granted this petition. (Sections of the story above were adapted from St. Francis of Assisi and the Great Pardon known as the Portiuncula Indulgence by Susan Tassone)

The Pardon of Assisi, Plenary Indulgence has been extended to all parish churches throughout the world. According to the directives for Indulgences the following are guidelines for the Indulgence: Celebrate Confession, attend Mass, receive Holy Communion and pray an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for the intentions of the Pope, eight days before or after
August 2.


On Friday, July 21st, the St. Clare Auditorium in the lower level of the church was filled to capacity as many people came to experience our first Summer Concert of this year. Mr. Bennett King, trumpet and his brother, Mr. Elliot King, violin, accompanied on piano by Fr. Robert Hutmacher, OFM gave a rousing selection of music from Vivaldi, Bruch, Pachelbel, Bach and more. It was really an uplifting time for all of us who were there.  These young musicians (Bennett is 15 years old) and (Elliot is 14 years old) along with their parents and some family members are parishioners of Ascension Parish in Oak Park. The quality of their music and their ease at playing in front of an audience was captivating. Though we hear a lot of criticism these days of "young people," I and everyone in attendance at this concert, were edified and appreciative of the gift of music that Bennett and Elliot shared with us.

I have mentioned to a number of the friars and some parishioners that I have been very impressed and encouraged by the increasing presence of children and young people at our Masses. I am encouraged in my own faith when I see many young adults coming to Mass, celebrating God's forgiveness in confession and many coming to St. Peter's throughout the day to pray quietly in the peace of the church away from the noise and business of the Loop.

Though news reports and stories often have much to report about violence, looting and lack of respect for others, there are many young folks who are doing all they can to promote understanding and dialogue in times in which no one seems to want to learn from others. On Sunday, July 9, the nonprofit, My Block, My Hood, My City organized a tour of the city for teens from various Chicago neighborhoods to come "Downtown" and for most of these teens to experience this part of Chicago for the first time. I commend this effort to build up understanding between citizens of Chicago. In some of the news reports it was encouraging to hear the hope of these young folks to see that downtown, the Loop, the Lake is part of their city also. The nonprofit, My Block, My Hood, My City also offers tours of various neighborhoods conducted by youth in their neighborhood throughout the city. It seems to me to be an excellent approach to fostering better understanding between citizens of our city. For more information go to their website: https://www.formyblock.org


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, August 12 and August 13 about the ministry needs in his home diocese.


I will be away this week visiting some of my relatives. I hope you are able to take some time for connecting up with relatives or friends this summer also. If you can't visit them in person, why not send a greeting via e-mail, text or phone or even use the "old fashioned" method of...writing them a letter or sending a card? And don't forget to keep in touch with God during these summer days. If you are in the Loop and feeling the heat of summer, stop in St. Peter's and take some quiet time in the coolness of the church and listen to the Lord speak to your heart. The times of services and when the church is open will be found elsewhere in today's bulletin or on our website. And, if you are looking for some summer time reading, check out our St. Peter's Book & Gift Shop on the lower level of the church.

Fr. Michael