In the second reading today from St. Paul we hear, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord…..To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” (1 Cor12: 4-7) On this feast of Pentecost, we are reminded that the Gospel message Christ preached, while he walked the earth, has been entrusted to us who are his followers to continue to share the Good News of the Gospel.
Throughout the world, there are over 1.2 billion Catholics. That's a lot of brothers and sisters in the faith (!) Over 40% of Catholics live in Latin America. The fastest increasing area for growth in the Catholic Church is in Africa. Catholics continue to be the largest single denomination in the USA with over 68,202,492 Catholics and the second largest single denomination is Southern Baptists with 16,136,044. (Statistics from National Council of Churches.)
On this Pentecost Sunday, we are reminded, that through our Baptism, we are challenged to not only grow in faith ourselves but to share that gift of faith in Christ with others. In our troubled world today, the Gospel message of Jesus is needed more than ever. Let each of us do all we can to bring Christ's message to others.
Today (Saturday, May 27) is a bittersweet day for the friars here at St. Peter's Friary. Br. Vagner Sena, OFM and Br. Erlison Campos, OFM will be returning to their Franciscan brothers and their families after spending five years with us in Chicago. Through difficult days of learning the English language, learning about American and specifically Chicago culture and studying theology in preparation to be ordained priests, they now can say in the words of St. Paul, "I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith." (2 Timothy 4:7).
It is with pride and joy that we congratulate these young friars as they return home for ordination and the ministry that awaits them in the Franciscan Custody of St. Benedict of the Amazon. As members of the Franciscan community and as members of St. Peter's congregation, we have been honored to be a part of their formation towards priesthood. We have been blessed by their generosity of sharing their Franciscan life with each of us and other friars throughout the USA. We will miss their presence at Masses here at St. Peter's Church and their challenging and insightful homilies.
We will miss them but we are also happy that they are now ready to return to their beloved land of the Amazon region of Brazil. We are happy that their families will be able to join with them in celebrating their ordination in June in their home parishes. As they return to Brazil, I encourage you to keep Vagner and Erlison in your prayers. Keep the friars of their Custody in your prayers. Remember their family in your prayers. And, pray and encourage our young people among us to consider a life of service to the People of God as priest, brother or sister.
Though most of us cannot travel to Brazil for their ordination, you will be able to watch the ordinations using the following links...
Br. Vagner Sena, OFM
St. Anne Cathedral
Óbidos, Pará, Brazil
June 24, 2023
5:00 pm (Central Time)
Br. Erlison Campos, OFM
St. Michael the Archangel Church
Santarém, Pará, Brazil
June 29, 2023
5:30 pm (Central Time)
Below you will find a note for all of you from our Franciscan brothers, Vagner and Erlison.
Going Back to Brazil
Our life is made up of narratives and each of these narratives is full of memories that are part of our history and help us to give meaning and continuity to this beautiful journey called life.
After almost five years living in the Windy City, we, brother Vagner and brother Erlison, concluded our theological studies at the Catholic Theological Union and now it is time to return to Brazil. On the 27th of May, we will be in the Amazon region where we were born and raised. It is time to go back there and experience this fraternal communion with all of creation that inspired Saint Francis of Assisi and that motivates us to commit ourselves to the struggle for an integral ecology. The worrying attacks on the environment and the warnings of Pope Francis make us look for alternative ways to report to the Amazon. The cosmological vision of the traditional peoples from the Amazon region and Franciscan charism meet to help the cry of the Earth and the Poor.
In addition, we are going back to Brazil to celebrate with our families our presbyteral ordinations – June 24th brother Vagner and June 29th Br. Erlison. You will all be able to follow these celebrations through YouTube (the Link is available in this and future editions of the church bulletin).
The priestly ordination will probably be a very important day for us. And you will be there with us. All of you who were part of this wonderful journey and lived by us here in the United States, will be in our memory and in our hearts; and all of you who have prayed and are praying for our vocation and for the success of our ministry.
We will return home with many special memories of this time we lived here in the community of St. Peter. We feel happy and blessed to know that during these almost five years there has not been a single day that we have not felt welcomed, cared for, and loved by all our Franciscan brothers, by our closest friends as well as by all the people we have had the opportunity to get to know here in this community and in others where we serve as deacons. During this time, we witnessed what Jesus promised his disciples “There is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age" (Mark 10: 29-30).
Chicago has become our home, and the people who worship at Saint Peter's Church, our family. We could not return to Brazil without expressing our deepest gratitude to everyone who collaborated for this stage of our formation to be successfully completed. A new stage begins, now with new challenges and dreams as well. With the help of God and Our Lady, we will continue our mission serving the people of God who live in the Amazon region. We ask you to remember us in your prayers and pray that we will be happy in our ministry and that we can continue to put our lives at the service of the most needy and excluded in our society.
We will begin another narrative of our lives, but this time much fuller of experience and knowledge. The next chapter in the book of our lives will contain much of what we learned from you.
We ask God to bless each one of you. May God give us strength and courage so that even far from each other we can remain firm in faith together with the same purpose, which is to share the joy of the Gospel with our brothers and sisters.
Feel free to contact us through our emails:
Br. Vagner Sena - [email protected]
Br. Erlison Campos - [email protected]
ST. PETER'S 9th ANNUAL GALA
Thanks to the hard work of Fr. Mario and all the volunteers, we will return to the Union League Club on Thursday, July 13 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm to celebrate the Ninth Annul St. Peter's Church Gala. This is our largest fund-raising event of the year and it helps keep our ministry at St. Peter's operating. It is with the generosity of so many folks that, over the years, this annual event has enabled us to keep our doors open here in the Loop. You can purchase tickets for this event at the church or visiting our website. Hopefully, we'll see many of you at this important gathering of supporters of St. Peter's.
LITURGICAL MINISTERS NEEDED
We are inviting those who come on a regular basis to St. Peter's Church to consider serving as a Reader, Eucharist Minister or Greeter/Usher at our weekend and weekday Masses. With many of our former liturgical ministers no longer working or living in the Loop and an increase in the number of folks coming to our Masses and services, we are in need of additional liturgical ministers. Those who read at Mass receive training in reading from the scriptures, use of the sound system in church and other responsibilities of proclaiming God's Word at Masses. If you are presently a Reader or Eucharist Minister or would like to consider being a Reader, Usher, etc., please plan on attending a short meeting on Thursday, June 15 from 4:30-5:15 pm.
ANNUAL CATHOLIC APPEAL (ACA)
In early February, throughout the Archdiocese, the Annual Catholic Appeal was held. Your gift – no matter the size – helps bring the Gospel message to our fellow Catholics and others throughout our region. Given the great challenges we have all faced in these past few years of COVID, the work supported by the Appeal is more important than ever. Gifts to the Annual Catholic Appeal directly support the necessary work of parishes, Catholic schools and vital ministries throughout the archdiocese.
Each church/parish throughout the Archdiocese has a goal to meet to help the various ministries supported by the ACA. This year, the target goal for St. Peter's Church is $16,062. As of April 2023, the amount pledged or paid for St. Peter's goal was $14,260. I am hoping that, as in previous years, we will not only meet our goal, but we will exceed the goal by the time the 2023 ACA appeal is completed this summer. When contributions exceed our goal, St. Peter's Church will receive a rebate from the excess donated funds. In previous years, those funds that were over our goal have helped maintain our ministry here at St. Peter's Church. God's blessing to everyone who has contributed to the 2023 ACA. And, if you have not already donated, there is still time to participate in the ACA.