September 20,2020

When I arrived at St. Peter's a few months ago, Fr. Kurt was most generous in helping me start to understand many of the important items to know about ministry here at the church. In the midst of the many restrictions due to the coronavirus, the church I moved into as pastor was unlike the church I knew of a few years ago when I lived in Chicago. Fr. Kurt, thoughtfully, left a series of church bulletins from the past few years in my office. I was looking at a few copies from last fall and I am struck by how many things were happening here at the church in 2019 and what few things we are able to offer this fall of 2020 due to the coronavirus.

While what we can offer this fall of 2020 is reduced from what we offered in other years, the friars, lay staff and volunteers, in light of Archdiocese and city health department guidelines, continue to offer the ministry of the Church to those who come to St. Peter's. We celebrate two Masses a day Monday - Friday and two Masses on Sundays. The opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) is available Monday - Saturday from 10:30 am until 3:00 pm. Our gift shop and Catholic book store is open Monday - Saturday from 10:30 am until 2:30 pm. It is also open on Sundays from 8:30 am until 12:15 pm. With our inability to gather in large groups at this time, perhaps you might want to read and reflect yourself on some aspect of our faith. The St. Peter's bookstore staff are available to offer you some suggestions on a good book to read.

Our great staff is working on various creative ways to continue St. Peter's tradition of making available opportunities to grow in our faith. Please check out (elsewhere in this bulletin) information about how to participate in the Little Rock Scripture Study. Though we can't meet in a group at this time we are offering the program through ZOOM. Fr. Derran (Program Director for St. Peter's) and Jo Ann Bednar (Communications Director) will be offering this excellent way to learn more about Scripture beginning September 25 and continuing until December 18. Contact them to learn more about this scripture study and to register to participate.

Fr. Derran and Jo Ann are planning other programs in coming weeks for learning more about our faith and life in Christ. While we look forward to the time when we can gather together as a group to share our faith for now we will use various media in order to continue our long tradition of programs to grow in our faith.

From the earliest days of the Church there have been guides who have helped others to grow deeper in their faith. These spiritual guides have helped countless people to come closer to Christ and one another. We are blessed here at St. Peter's to have two people who have studied spiritual direction and are able to offer spiritual direction to others who wish to deepen their faith. Franciscan Sister Fran Sulzer, FSPA and Br. Guillermo Morales, OFM have studied to be these spiritual guides. Spiritual Direction offers an opportunity to talk with a trained guide about our relationship with God and with others. More information about Spiritual Direction will be found elsewhere in this bulletin.

As we all know the impact of the coronavirus has not only limited the ministry and activities at church it has also reduced the number of people in the Loop and visitors to the City. The impact of this virus has affected not only our social life but also our financial life. Many, many people have been out of work these past months. While various government relief dollars have helped ease the burden on a lot of people the fear of not being able to pay rent, mortgages, utility bills or even getting food for their family continues to be a reality for many people in our country and city.

As I write these thoughts it appears that the US Congress is deadlocked on finding any way to further help people at this time. Though there are probably good reasons for this deadlock I find it unbelievable in this the strongest nation in the world that our elected representatives CANNOT find some way to ease the burden of so many people who are hurting financially because of this virus.

If you have been checking the weekly report on finances here at St. Peter's you will have noticed that our weekly income is usually less than $2,000 a week. With fewer people at Masses and fewer people in the Loop at this time it is not surprising that our income is also low.

I would like to publicly thank our very generous benefactors who have sent in extra donations to help us maintain our ministry in these difficult times. Your generosity, no matter how large or small all adds up so we can meet our financial obligations of salaries, utilities and other expenses to keep St. Peter's Church working and open for all who come.

As we have been announcing for the past few weeks our annual Church Gala to support the ministry of St. Peter's Church will be virtual this year due to the coronavirus. This year, especially in light of the financial struggles in the country due to the coronavirus and it's impact upon the nation and church the 2020 Gala is very important for the ministry of St. Peter's in the Loop. Please go to: stpetersauction.givesmart.com for more information and to register for the Gala. You will also find information on the church web site at www.stpetersloop.org

I am sure you have also noticed that we have had a number of second collections lately. Because churches were closed and Masses suspended the Archdiocese recently sent out an updated and revised schedule for special collections. Three weeks ago we had a collection for Catholic Charities, last week a collection for the Shrines and Ministries in the Holy Land and this weekend is a collection for the education of seminarians, our future priests in the Archdiocese. Your donations help to support these worthy causes.

While we will not be able to have our many activities and services this year, as we have done in previous years for the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, I still encourage you to join us as we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Francis by attending Mass on Sunday, October 4 at 9:00 am or 11:00 am. We will also have our annual Blessing of animals in front of church on the feast of St. Francis. We will announce the time of the blessing in next weekend's bulletin.

Congratulations and God's blessings upon Br. Marc Sheckells, OFM who will be ordained a deacon on Saturday, September 26 at St. Clare of Montefalco Church. He is preparing for ordination to the priesthood at Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Hyde Park. Please keep Br Marc in your prayers and also pray for Br. Erlison Campos, OFM and Br. Vagner Ferreira, OFM as they continue their theological studies at CTU this fall.

FRIAR-ARTIST

Fr. Jerry Bleem, OFM is a well-known artist and member of the Franciscans of Sacred Heart Province. He presently is an Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He writes a monthly column, "Eye of the Beholder" for US Catholic Magazine and helps in a variety of ministries in the Chicago area. The Riverside Arts Center in Riverside, Illinois has a solo exhibition of his artistic work, "STILL" until October 17, 2020. You will find more information and details by going to the following web site: https://www.riversideartscenter.com/freearksculpturegarden/2020/7/6/jerrybleem I encourage you to visit this exhibit by Fr. Jerry.

MORE FRIAR NEWS

Br. Marc Sheckell, OFM, who is in residence here at St. Peter's, is our Guest Master, works in the office and is studying for the priesthood at Catholic Theological Union in Hyde Park will be ordained a transitional deacon on Saturday, September 26. God willing Br. Marc will be ordained a priest in the coming year. Please keep him and the other religious who will be ordained deacon in your prayers. May God bless Br. Marc as he is ordained deacon and guide him as he prepares for ordination as priest.

SECOND & SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

Recently we received a note from the Archdiocese regarding a number of second collections that were postponed due to the restrictions on having Masses and public gatherings earlier this year. Some of those second collections have now been rescheduled. We had the collection for Catholic Charities the weekend of September 5-6. This weekend (September 13) is the annual Good Friday Collection for the shrines and the ministry of the Franciscans in the Holy Land. Donation through this collection helps support the maintenance of the ancient churches in the Holy Land, the pastoral ministries in the Holy Land and the care of Christians and others in war-torn areas of Syria.

The weekend of September 20 is the annual Archdiocese Seminarian Education Collection to support the education of seminarians for the Archdiocese of Chicago. Peter's Pence is scheduled for October 4. Throughout the world the weekend of October 18 World Mission Sunday is celebrated and the second collection is to help fund the work of missionaries throughout the world.

As we all struggle to fund our expenses your generous financial support for St. Peter's Church helps us to continue to offer Masses and confessions here at the church. Your donations to the second collections helps those special ministries to continue in this time of limited resources.

May God bless your generosity. Your financial help has allowed St. Peter's to continue to be here for you, even if on a limited basis at this time. The Franciscans and staff keep you in our prayers each day. Let us all continue to pray for those who suffer from the coronavirus and that soon the danger of this disease may be greatly lessened.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

As we all know the coronavirus continues to infect people throughout the world. Health authorities tell us that the most important thing each of us can do to help prevent the spread of this disease is to wear a mask, wash our hands frequently and avoid close contact with large crowds. We here at St. Peter's (following Archdiocese and local health department guidelines) are doing all we can to make sure it is as safe as possible for anyone who wishes to come to Mass or go to confession.

An important part of insuring the safety of everyone who comes to St. Peter's are our dedicated volunteers who help our security team with welcoming folks to the church, taking touchless temperatures and making sure everyone who comes has a mask. Our greeters for the Masses help direct people to our pews, guide them for receiving communion and welcome all who come to Mass in church.

As the restrictive guidelines continue we have become aware that we need a few more volunteers to help with welcoming people to the church, help with directing people who have come for confession to their place and volunteers to help as ushers for the Masses. If you are able and willing to help as a volunteer please contact James Kapellas at 312-853-2418. Your assistance will help us to continue to offer people an opportunity for confession and an opportunity to come to Mass on weekdays and weekends.

I also offer you a gentle reminder that it is now mandatory to wear a mask in stores and even on the city streets. As I go for my daily walk in the Loop I am seeing more and more folks not wearing a mask. I don't like to have to wear a mask on my daily walks but I know when I wear my mask, I am not only protecting myself but also you and anyone I walk by or see in any store. As Catholics we profess a profound belief in the sanctity of ALL life, of ALL God's creation. May each one of us take responsibility in our part of the world to protect life and help prevent the spread of this coronavirus..... Let us all do our part and Wear a mask. Wash our hands. And take care of our health and the health of others.

Fr. Michael