November 8, 2020

Last week we celebrated the feasts of All Saints and that of All Souls. These annual feasts of the Church remind us to pray for our relatives and friends who have died. The month of November is dedicated to the Poor Souls and all the faithful departed whom we pray rest in peace. I encourage you to make some extra time this month to pray for all the dead. I invite you to place the names of your deceased family members and friends in the Remembrance Book located near the baptismal fount in church. We are praying especially in November for all those listed in the book.

This Wednesday, November 11, we are reminded that one hundred and two years ago in 1918, on the 11th month of the 11th day at 11:00am an armistice was signed to end the First World War, “The war to end all wars!” President Woodrow Wilson called on the country to remember those who had died in the nation’s service. He invited America to “show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.” As we know, the world was soon plunged into an even greater war in 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland and soon the nations of the world were fighting the Second World War. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and many other wars have followed in various other troubled places throughout the globe.

As we celebrate Masses this month I encourage you to pray for the thousands who have died in war. If you have ever been in war you know the tragic consequences of evil in our world. If you have ever visited Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery outside Joliet or another national cemetery or battlefield in this country or elsewhere, you know the sobering reality of looking at thousands of graves and realizing most of them are men and women in their teens, 20’s and 30’s. They are the young and energetic people whose full potential was cut down by the horror of war.

As we come together this weekend and all during this month, let us pray for our men and women who have given so much for our freedom. Pray also for those innocent civilians who have died as a result of war. Let us pray for peace in our world. As we celebrate Veterans Day this year let us remember all those who have served and those who are presently serving in the Armed Forces, in Veterans Hospitals and everyone who is working to promote peace in our world.

Anyone who has ever served in the military knows that since the beginning of our country clergy have helped serve the spiritual needs of those in the Armed Forces. Chaplains served in the Revolutionary War, Civil War and countless other conflicts. Many members of the Sacred Heart Province of Franciscans have served in various chaplaincies throughout the world, both in peace and war times. Four Franciscan priest chaplains of the Province died during World War II. Fr. Patrick Maloney died in 1943 at Ft. Custer, Battle Creek, MI. Fr. Alexander O'Donnell died in 1945 as a result of injuries received in France. Fr. Elwin Bina was killed March 1945 in the Aleutian Islands as he was going to celebrate Mass for servicemen at an isolated base. Fr. Myles O'Toole was wounded and while giving the Last Rites to other soldiers was killed by an artillery shell on Luzon, Philippine Islands in January, 1945.

Many other priests have courageously served as chaplains. Fr. Emil Kapaun, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, served during the Korean War and died in a POW camp in North Korea. Fr. Vincent Capodanno, a member of the Maryknoll Missionaries, was killed in Vietnam serving as chaplain to the Marines. Both of these priests received numerous awards and both are recipients of the US Medal of Honor. The cause for canonization for both these priests has been taken up by the Vatican for their heroic service to others.

If you are interested in learning more about Fr. Kapaun or Fr. Capodanno you will find more details in the following books. The Miracle of Father Kapaun by Roy Wenzl & Travis Heying and Armed With Faith: The Life of Father Vincent Capodanno, MM by Stephan M. DiGiovanni.

Fr. Ed McKenzie, OFM, a member of the St, Peter's Church friar staff is also a veteran, having served in Vietnam during the war. Fr. Ed will be offering a special series in the New Year 2021 for veterans called CROSSWINDS: DEVELOPING CENTERS OF HOPE. Fr. Ed will be sharing more about this special series in the coming months.

Looking ahead we will soon publish information about our upcoming Advent Lecture Series. Though we cannot have in person gatherings at this time we hope to offer an Advent series via Zoom or You Tube during the Advent season. We have already begun plans for the 4th Annual Friars and Friends Christmas Concert. Because of the restrictions on preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus we will be live-streaming the event and recording it for later play on YouTube. We are also planning on an Advent insert in the weekly bulletins of the Advent Season.

As mentioned above, Fr. Ed will be offering a special series (CROSSWINDS: DEVELOPING CENTERS OF HOPE) for veterans in the New Year. Also in January we will be offering a discussion series on the recent Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis, Fratetelli Tutti (On Fraternity and Social Friendship). Watch the bulletin and church web site for more information in the coming weeks.

Due to the increasing spread of the coronavirus  we will have to adjust some of the sacramental offerings during Advent and Christmas. We will not be able to have our usual Penance Services but we are working on offering more opportunities for individual confessions before Christmas. We are presently looking at the number of Masses we might be able to offer for Christmas. The times for Masses may be different this year than last year in light of guidelines to protect the health of everyone. Keep checking out the weekly Sunday bulletin, our church web site and Facebook in the future for more details.

As we mentioned in last weekend's bulletin, the voice mail part of our phone system has ceased to work and thus you cannot leave a message on the church phones. It appears the voice mail messaging part of our phone system is unable to be repaired. Like many things it is old and beyond its service life. We are looking into many solutions but for now please be aware that you will NOT be able to leave a message for us on the church phone system. We are working as fast as possible to resolve the problem. We have had the system looked at and are awaiting news from technicians on a possible solution to this problem. We will continue to keep you updated.

The annual collection for Archdiocesan priests' health and retirement will be taken up throughout the Archdiocese this Sunday, November 8. There are two collection boxes designated for this collection in church this weekend. You may also donate by going to the web site: prmaa.org The money raised from this collection goes toward the care of retired Archdiocesan priests and not the religious priests working in the Archdiocese. The annual collection for Retired Religious Men and Women throughout the USA is taken up the weekend of December 12-13.

Remember to keep washing your hands frequently, wear a mask and avoid large crowds. Let us all do our part to respect life by doing all we can to keep one another healthy in the midst of this world-wide pandemic. Let us also remember one another in prayer and especially pray for all medical personnel, first responders, health care workers, and all who work in essential jobs.

Fr. Michael