Consecration of Russia and Ukraine: Friday, March 25, 2022

Dear Friends,

Pope Francis has asked us to join him praying the Prayer of Consecration of Russia and The Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Friday, March 25, at 12:30 pm Saint Louis time. We will gather in Church on Friday, beginning at 11:00 am, to pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, to celebrate the Eucharist on the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lord and then to pray the Prayer of Consecration, concluding at 12:40. Please plan to join us and invite as many as you can to also join us.

If you are unable to attend, please offer the prayer in your home, office or car at 12:30 on Friday. The Holy Father has asked us not to offer the prayer before he leads us all (1.3 billion of us; the Mystical Body of Christ) at 12:30 on Friday. God bless you.

World Day of Prayer for the Environment

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has asked us to pray today in a particular way for our environment.  On this World Day of Prayer for the Environment we are especially mindful of the victims of the natural disasters in our western states, in Louisiana and in Haiti.

Thanks.  God bless you.
Fr. Mitch

St. John the Baptist (SJB) Parish Council (PC) Minutes, May 19, 2021

St. John the Baptist (SJB)

Parish Council (PC) Minutes

May 19, 2021

 

In Attendance:  Fr. Mitchell Doyen, Deacon Dana Engelhardt, Kathleen Anger, Michelle Boehne, Marion Erwin, Donna Hawkins, Joan Lopez, Elizabeth Matoushek, Rosemarie Schelling, and Barbara Unger.  William St. Clair was absent.  Guests were Kathy Frank and Laura Tabachik, potential replacement members for Joan and Bill who are transitioning off the Council at the end of this meeting.  To have a twelve-member Council, we could add one more member.  For the sake of our guests, we went around the table and briefly introduced ourselves.

 

Opening Prayer:  Barb led us in a prayer by St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta.

 

Approval of Minutes:  The minutes of the April 21 meeting were distributed prior to the meeting for review.  There were no comments, so the minutes were approved as written.

 

Committee Reports

  1. Liturgy: At last Monday night’s meeting, Barb said the committee discussed the wearing of masks, and CDC and Archdiocesan pandemic guidance.  The choir is back together and singing for Sunday liturgies.  Eleven were consecrated to St. Joseph on May 1.  Upcoming events include having a Baptism during the 10 am Mass on Pentecost.  Everyone is encouraged to wear red.  The monthly Anointing of the Sick will resume, starting on the last weekend in May.  There will be a procession after the 10 am Mass on Corpus Christi.  The three stations for Benediction have been selected.

 

  1. Finance:  Donna said the committee has not met.  Fr. Mitch said the emergency grant from the Archdiocese to pay for the gas line replacement was approved.  The electronic sign board, funded by an anonymous donor, has been ordered and is to be shipped the second week in June.  Fr. Mitch hopes it will be installed by the Feast of St. John the Baptist, when we are having an outdoor pizza and ice cream social after the 4 pm Mass on Saturday, June 26.

 

  1. Buildings:  Elizabeth said the committee has not met; Fr. Mitch said it will meet in June.  Elizabeth reported the warped asbestos floor tiles are being replaced as carefully as possible to avoid problems.  Tuckpointing is the next big project.  Rosemarie reported she had noticed cracks in the ceilings above the St. Joseph and Mary statues in Church.  Elizabeth said this will be investigated.

 

  1. St. Vincent de Paul Society:  Kathy reported 12 families were helped with utilities, 6 with mattresses and/or clothes, 1 with a mortgage payment, and 1 with funeral expenses.  We are serving fewer families because there is currently more state aid available.  We have received a $1000 donation from St. Clement’s and three carloads of food, which we shared with two local food pantries.
  2. Parish Missionary Disciples (PMD):  Rosemarie reported the prayer box program is being expanded to include all residents (not just parishioners) on the blocks on which the Block Captains live.

 

  1. Pro Life:  Elizabeth reported that Thom Pancella ordered half as many roses for Mother’s Day as last year.  But they did not arrive until early Sunday morning, so there was no time to prepare them.  Elizabeth apologized for the bedraggled appearance of the roses.  However, donations covered the cost of the roses and more than enough to send Elizabeth to the Pro Life Convention in October.

 

Tenants

  1. St. Francis Community Services: Rosemarie reported there is nothing new on their website.

 

  1. Billiken Teacher Corps:  Fr. Mitch said all the student teachers were at last Sunday’s farewell Mass for the five who are graduating.  There will be fourteen student teachers at SJB over the summer.  Then four of them will move to Springfield IL in the fall.

 

  1. PSR: Fr. Mitch mentioned the last board meeting of the 2020-2021 school year is the first Monday in June.  He also said he was inspired by and grateful for the good attendance of both students and teachers throughout the year.

 

Pastor’s Report

Fr. Mitch shared a reflection on the upcoming Gospel for Pentecost:  John 20: 10-23.  Pentecost is the birthday of the Church; it is when the Triune God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — is revealed; and it is when we hear that repentance of sins leads to salvation.  It is significant that Jesus says “Peace be with you” twice.  We must have peace within us to be able hear and listen to God.  If we do not forgive sins, God’s mercy will not flow.

 

Fr. Mitch plans to record a robocall detailing the relaxed pandemic restrictions.  Masks are to be worn upon entering and leaving Church and when going forward to receive Holy Communion.  Social distancing is to be continued, but masks do not need to be worn in the pews or outside.  The Offertory procession of bread and wine – but not the donation basket — will be resumed.

 

Old Business

  1. Laudato Si:  The encyclical is available online, but Fr. Mitch volunteered to order some hard copies.  We scheduled a workshop on Laudato Si for the leaders of our Church organizations for Saturday, October 9, starting with 8 am Mass and concluding by noon.

 

  1. Recycling:  To be implemented by all Parish organizations after the above workshop.  One recycling idea is to ban plastic bottles at all Parish meetings.  Another is to use compostable utensils and dishes at all Parish events serving food.

 

New Business

  1. Reuse of the Fenced Playground in the Corner of the South Parking Lot:  The wooden playground equipment was too dilapidated to be reused, but the metal bench was moved to near the West entrance to the Church.  Someone suggested the area could be turned into a community garden with raised beds.  The produce could be donated to a food pantry.  This idea would have to be coordinated with the Garden Committee (Cindy Kveton, Phyllis Bilger, and Linda Yarnell).  Brightside might be a resource for developing a garden.  Someone else said the area may already be slated to be paved to enlarge the parking lot.  It was noted that we have adequate parking at this time.

 

  1. PC:  Meets at 7 pm on the third Wednesday of the month, August through May.  No meetings in June and July.

 

  1. Donut Sundays:  Normally held on the first Sunday of the month during the school year.  Eddie’s delivers the donuts, which are ordered by Kathy A., who coordinates with whichever Parish organization is hosting the event that month.  We hope to resume having donuts on the last Sunday in August in lieu of the first Sunday in September.

 

  1. Men’s Club BBQ:  Dates in September, October, and November were discussed, but no decision was made.

 

  1. Women’s Quiet Retreat at King’s House in Belleville IL:  Barb has registered about fifteen women for either September 24-26 or October 15-17.  The latter weekend is fully booked unless pandemic capacity restrictions are lifted.

 

Closing Prayer:  Elizabeth led us in a prayer, starting with “Lord of Day and Night.”

 

Next MeetingAugust 18, 2021

 

Opening Prayer:  Kathy A.

 

Closing Prayer:  Deacon Dana

 

Refreshments:  Anticipating that food restrictions will be lifted, Elizabeth volunteered to provide refreshments.

Abriendo Puertas with St. Francis

From Meredith Rataj:

As a supporter/partner/friend of St. Francis, I wanted to let you know what we’ve got going on with our new initiative called Abriendo Puertas, so below is an email I recently sent to our Adopt a Family for Christmas donors that you may also find helpful, especially as people may be asking you, “How can I help?”

This summer we have seen the families coming in the front doors of St. Francis Community Services reflect what we are all reading about in the front page news and on our social media feeds.  We and our other immigrant service provider partners are welcoming people from around the world.  At St. Francis, we are focusing our efforts and expertise on new arrivals coming from the southern border.  I’m reaching out to you because while we at St. Francis can do our part in helping connect people to services and walk them through some of the first steps of settling in to their new city, we really need your help to provide 25 families (and counting) with household and hygiene essentials.  We have created the Abriendo Puertas initiative to “open a door” for our new neighbors by delivering these housewarming items on September 11th.  Here are some ways you can be involved:

Donate & Sponsor:

At the bottom of our Abriendo Puertas webpage, you can make a tax-deductible donation on the secure form to sponsor an entire family’s household needs or purchase beds for newly-arrived family members.  Your contribution will not only allow the families to furnish their new home but will also help provide for the supportive services of bilingual staff as well as delivery of families’ furnishings.  (And spoiler alert for those of you are thinking of emailing me to ask what the most needed item for families is right now:  It’s beds!)  If you typically come together as a family, friend group, or office at the holidays to adopt a family, this could be your end-of-summer way to connect with those people and work together for a good cause.

Purchase Individual Items:

You can also purchase individual items from our Target registry (before Labor Day, Sept. 6th to allow for shipping time) to help a newly arrived family establish their home.  If you are ordering online, the delivery address will auto-populate at check-out so you can have your purchase shipped to us.  If you’re shopping in person at the Target store (for the millionth time this week to get all the things you forgot to buy on your last Target run, like me!), you can find the registry in Target’s “Housewarming” registry list using First Name: St Francis, Last Name: Community Services.  You can text me at 314.960.6362 or email me to arrange a drop-off at our office (or at my house if it’s more convenient) before September 11th.

Volunteer:

Throughout this effort, our staff members need help organizing and distributing household items to families. You can sign up to lend a helping hand.  We especially need volunteers on September 1st  from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at our office to organize donations and on September 11th from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm to make deliveries.  You don’t even need to stay for the whole time for our big Abriendo Puertas delivery day—you can grab some deliveries and go!  You can also indicate on the sign-up form if you have a truck and would be willing to help us pick up and deliver furniture on a day to be determined.

Please also help us spread the word about Abriendo Puertas—forward this email, share our Facebook post, or suggest it to friends who are asking (like mine are) how they can help.

Don’t hesitate to reach out with questions, and thank you for being such a welcoming community!

 

Staying Awake

Dear Friends,

In light of the strongest recommendations from our local health department and the head of the regional Coronavirus Task force, Dr. Garza, we will continue to Worship daily, including Friday Devotions, but we will not have any other gatherings in our meeting spaces.

As this year comes to a close and we enter the Season of Advent, our desire to begin again is palpable. The ongoing spread of the Coronavirus and Covid-19, together with the unrest in communities throughout the world, leave us in a time of exile. This is what Isaiah is praying about in the first reading on the First Sunday of Advent. I am attaching a beautiful reflection from Fr. Ron Rollheiser; it names what we are experiencing and lifts our eyes to hope.

I encourage all of us to be mindful of one another in prayer. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

 

Staying Awake

In his autobiography, Report to Greco, Nikos Kazantzakis recounts a conversation he once had with an old monk. Kazantzakis, a young man at the time, was visiting a monastery and was very taken by a famed ascetic, Father Makarios, who lived there. But a series of visits with the old monk left him with some ambivalent feelings as well. The monk’s austere lifestyle stirred a certain religious romanticism in Kazantzakis, but it repelled him too; he wanted the romanticism, but in a more-palatable way. Here’s their conversation as Kazantzakis records it:

Yours is a hard life, Father. I too want to be saved. Is there no other way?”

More agreeable?” asked the ascetic, smiling compassionately.

More human, Father.”

One, only one.”

What is that?”

Ascent. To climb a series of steps. From the full stomach to hunger, from the slaked throat to thirst, from joy to suffering. God sits at the summit of hunger, thirst, and suffering; the devil sits at the summit of the comfortable life. Choose.”

I am still young. The world is nice.  I have time to choose.”

 Reaching out, the old monk touched my knee and said:

Wake up, my child. Wake up before death wakes you up.”

 I shuddered and said:

I am still young.”

Death loves the young,” the old man replied. “The inferno loves the young. Life is like a lighted candle, easily extinguished. Take care—wake up!”

We are very much asleep, both to God and to our own lives.

Wake up! Wake up before death wakes you up. In a less dramatic expression that’s a virtual leitmotif in the Gospels. Jesus is always telling us to wake up, to stay awake, to be vigilant, to be more alert to a deeper reality. What’s meant by that? How are we asleep to depth? How are we to wake up and stay awake?

How are we asleep? All of us know how difficult it is for us to be inside the present moment, to not be asleep to the real riches inside our own lives. The distractions and worries of daily life tend to so consume us that we habitually take for granted what’s most precious to us, our health, the miracle of our senses, the love and friendships that surround us, and the gift of life itself. We go through our daily lives not only with a lack of reflectiveness and lack of gratitude but with a habitual touch of resentment as well, a chronic, grey depression, Robert Moore calls it. We are very much asleep, both to God and to our own lives.

How do we wake up? Today there’s a rich literature that offers us all kinds of advice on how to get into the present moment so as to be awake to the deep riches inside our own lives. While much of this literature is good, little of it is very effective. It invites us to live each day of our lives as if was our last day, but we simply can’t do that. It’s impossible to sustain that kind of intentionality and awareness over a long period of time. An awareness of our mortality does wake us up, as does a stroke, a heart attack, or cancer; but that heightened-awareness is easier to sustain for a short season of our lives than it is for twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years. Nobody can sustain that kind of awareness all the time. None of us can live seventy or eighty years as if each day was his or her last day. Or can we?

Spiritual wisdom offers a nuanced answer here: We can and we can’t!  On the one hand, the distractions, cares, and pressures of everyday life will invariably have their way with us and we will, in effect, fall asleep to what’s deeper and more important inside of life. But it’s for this reason that every major spiritual tradition has daily rituals designed precisely to wake us from spiritual sleep, akin to an alarm clock waking us from physical sleep.

It’s for this reason we need to begin each day with prayer. What happens if we don’t pray on a given morning is not that we incur God’s wrath, but rather that we tend to miss the morning, spending the hours until noon trapped inside a certain dullness of heart.

The same can be said about praying before meals. We don’t displease God by not first centering ourselves in gratitude before eating, but we miss out on the richness of what we’re doing. Liturgical prayer and the Eucharist have the same intent, among their other intentions. They’re meant to, regularly, call us out of a certain sleep.

None of us lives each day of our lives as if it was his or her last day. Our heartaches, headaches, distractions, and busyness invariably lull us to sleep. That’s forgivable; it’s what it means to be human. So we should ensure that we have regular spiritual rituals, spiritual alarm clocks, to jolt us back awake—so that it doesn’t take a heart attack, a stroke, cancer, or death to
wake us up.

Ron Rolheiser

 

Priorities at the Polls

As Catholics approach the polls, we are asked to weigh many important issues. The U.S. bishops have reaffirmed that “the threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed.” While they did warn us not to “dismiss or ignore other serious threats to human life and dignity such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty, and the death penalty,” they did give priority to upholding and defending our brothers’ and sisters’ most basic right—to live.

Abortion tragically ends someone’s life when he or she is most vulnerable and most in need of loving protection. Abortion is an intrinsic evil, meaning that it is never permitted or morally justified, regardless of individual circumstances or intentions. The personal and societal consequences of attacks against human life, whether at its earliest stages or at its final stages, are all the more serious because most often they are “carried out in the very heart of and with the complicity of the family—the family which by its nature is called to be the ‘sanctuary of life.’” This is the place where a person should be most loved, cherished, and protected.

Catholics are called to defend human life wherever it is threatened and stand up for human dignity wherever it is violated. The enormous number of human lives destroyed by abortion is one factor that elevates its importance. The most recent available data indicates over 2,000 children per day die from abortion in the United States. Since abortion was legalized in 1973, over 61 million children have been killed—and untold numbers of women and men suffer in the aftermath.

The tragedy of abortion is also distinct in that it is currently legal to directly and intentionally take the life of an innocent human being. Current laws in our country fail to protect the lives of unborn children. Our highest Court does not recognize children in their mothers’ wombs as persons and claims that abortion is a constitutional right. Further, many political leaders work actively to increase access to abortion. Some falsely describe it as health care and even as a basic human right.

People of good will must boldly stand up against this intrinsic evil, especially when it is occurring on a massive scale, implemented in law and funded, in some instances, by the government. As believers and citizens inspired by the Gospel and guided by the shepherds of our Church, we must do what we can to end violence in the womb, to ensure that unborn children are fully recognized and protected by our laws, and to support mothers and fathers in embracing life.

Fall Blood Drive: Sunday, October 18, 2020

Our Fall blood drive will take place on Sunday, October 18, in the Parish Center from 7:45 am – till 12:00 noon.  Bring a photo ID and eat a good breakfast prior to donation. Donors receive either a special t-shirt or a $5 gift certificate.  Due to social distancing standards, appointments are required. To schedule, go to www.bloodcenter.org or contact Parish Nurse Diane Huck, 353-1255, Ext. 106.

Please consider giving this special gift of life which is needed more than ever during this time of the coronavirus. 

Don’t Be Distracted from the Path of Love

Dear Friends,

As we look out upon the world we are like Jesus looking out over Jerusalem (Mt 23:37); the sadness and the pain are so deep within us and all around us, we cannot imagine what to do. Jesus’ tears become a call to us to follow him; his next steps are into the city he loves, where he will be arrested, scourged, ridiculed and crucified. Jesus pours out his life, revealing the only way to bring about true peace. We must follow him in the way of self-surrendering love. We cannot let fear, nor anger, nor misunderstanding, distract us from the path of love. We know darkness will yield to light, violence to peace, death to life.

We will gather on the evening of Wednesday, September 9, to pray for peace. And even now, please set your hearts on Christ, who shows us the way, for He is the way, the truth and the life.

In Wake of Kenosha Violence, U.S. Bishops’ Chairman for Committee Against Racism Urges Day of Prayer and Fasting

AUGUST 27, 2020 BY PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE

WASHINGTON – This Friday, August 28 marks the 57th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington where Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech. In this historic address, he proclaimed that when the builders of our nation wrote the words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, “they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism offered a reflection on Dr. King’s iconic words on the anniversary:

“That promissory note must be satisfied. On this Friday’s anniversary, in the midst of our country’s ongoing racial unrest, we restate our commitment to peacefully seeking racial justice. We stand in solidarity with Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee, which serves the City of Kenosha, who earlier this week said, ‘Violence can never be the means to attain peace and justice. The Church stands as a beacon of hope. The sins of violence, injustice, racism, and hatred must be purged from our communities with acts of mercy, with the protection and care for the dignity of every human person, with respect for the common good, and with an unwavering pursuit of equality and peace.’

“We reiterate the value of those whose human life and dignity in this country are marginalized through racism and our need to fight for them including the unborn. Considering the violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and in other cities across the nation, we urge all people of faith to observe August 28 or the Feast of St. Peter Claver on September 9 as a day of fasting and prayer. We urge Catholics to consider attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and offer your participation in reparation for sins of racism to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We invite the faithful to also consider praying the rosary, the USCCB’s Prayer Service for Racial Healing, and for the intercession of the saints who have fought for racial equality such as St. Katharine Drexel and St. Peter Claver. We must continue to engage the battle against the current evils of our society and in the words of Dr. King, refuse to believe ‘that the bank of justice is bankrupt.’ Dr. King’s dream, as he himself said, is deeply rooted in the American Dream. Let us not forget the price that he and so many courageous witnesses of all faiths and creeds paid to bring us to this moment.”