Last year, at the 11:00 am Mass on Sunday, August 1, 2021, we began our year-long celebration of the 175th anniversary of St. Peter's Church. Fr. Thomas Nairn, OFM, the Provincial of the Franciscan Province of the Sacred Heart, presided and preached at that Mass. The COVID restrictions of the past year did not allow us to celebrate as we had hoped but we were still able to recall the blessings God has given to us over these 175 years of ministry here in the Loop.
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 appointed pastor. A new and larger church was constructed at Polk & Clark streets in 1865 to accommodate the growing Chicago population. The Franciscan Friars of Sacred Heart Province at the request of the Bishop of Chicago arrived on July 29, 1875 and accepted the ministry at St. Peter's. Due to changing needs for ministry in the Loop a new St. Peter's Church was constructed on Madison and Clark in the early 1950's. Our present church was opened and dedicated in 1953. The priests and brothers of the Province continue to minister here at St. Peter's.
We will conclude our year-long celebration with a festive Mass on Sunday, August 14, 2022 at 11:00 am. I encourage you and your family to join us as we give thanks to God for these 175 years of the ministry of St. Peter's. We also pray that God will continue to guide us as we seek to serve the spiritual needs now and into the future of those who live in the Loop, those who work here and all our visitors who come here to worship and experience the presence of God.
THE PARDON OF ASSISI
On Tuesday, 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.
MISSIONARY COOPERATION PLAN
The weekend of August 20-21, 2022 we will observe the Missionary Cooperation Plan, the annual collection that connects our archdiocese with missionary causes around the world. After two years being unable to host in person a missionary, this year in the Archdiocese various missionaries from throughout the world will be speaking at parishes in the Archdiocese.
Father Benedict, Missionaries of St. Francis De Sales (MSFS) will be making the mission appeal on August 20-21, 2022 here at St. Peter’s parish to promote education among the poor children in India. Christianity is India's third-largest religion with approximately 30 million followers, constituting 3% of India's population. Around 70% of Christians are Dalits, a marginalized group without any rights or power.
Dalits are formerly known as ‘Outcaste or Untouchables’ under the caste system of India. For centuries, they have been deprived of education, social justice and equal opportunity. Due to poverty, the children are unable to continue their schooling and end up working in restaurants, tea shops, brick kilns, hazardous firework factories and weaving factories. They are robbed of their beautiful childhoods and bright futures. More than 15 million children are listed as child laborers in India. The only way these children can break this vicious cycle of poverty, abuse and oppression is to return to school.
In this painful context, the Bishop of the Diocese of Chingleput in Northeast India, Bishop A. Neethinathan makes this appeal in seeking your help and prayers. Your generosity through this mission appeal can help our children return to school and enjoy their childhood. You can surely prevent many children from child labor, child trafficking and child migration. Your contribution will be used to pay school fees, books and uniforms. You can also support a child through educational sponsorship at www.dalitsolidarity.org.
Thank you and may God richly bless you for answering God’s greatest commandment -- to love.
I want to thank Fr. Mario DiCicco, OFM for his leadership, along with his co-workers, members of the planning committee and all the volunteers who worked so hard in the past year to enable our recent St. Peter's Gala to be an outstanding success. After two long years of having to have a virtual Gala, this past July 14 a record number of people gathered at the Union League Club to enjoy the presence of one another and contributed to this annual fund-raising event for the ministry of St. Peter's in the Loop. May God bless everyone who helped to make this year's Gala a momentous event.
We all know the past years of COVID have been difficult for everyone. Through the presence of more people in the Loop, more workers returning to offices and shops and visitors to the City, we have seen an increase in people also coming to St. Peter's for our services and also to rest in the quiet presence of God in church. I cannot cease to tell you how significant the contributions (both monetary and volunteering to help), both large and small, of so many of you has enabled us to keep St. Peter's open these past few years. Thanks!