Dear St. Paul parishioners,
In the span of a few weeks, after a period of relative tranquility because of the stay-at-home orders, a lot has transpired for us as a community and I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect with you on these extraordinary events as well as to share some important updates with you.
Specifically, I would like to share with you:
Response and Reflection on the Death of George Floyd
In the immediate aftermath of the death of George Floyd, I put together a brief note for a student group chat that was also shared on social media. After further reflection and prayer, I wanted to share with you the following reflection, which is an amended version of what I shared with the students:
St. Paul's is blessed through our diversity. On Sundays, it's common to have worshipers from every continent in our community. As beautiful as this is, we are called to do more, to mourn with those who mourn, to pray for and to create a better world.
As men of women of faith, we should be deeply saddened and righteously indignant when people are treated unjustly. We also believe in the dignity and importance of every human life, regardless of skin color.
After the tragic death of George Floyd and the protests which have followed, we are particularly impelled to ask difficult question of ourselves and our community. How am I contributing to the problems of racism and division? How can I be a part of the solution? And so many more difficult questions. As Archbishop Thompson said in his own statement: "As Christians we cannot turn a blind eye to acts of racial violence and hatred. We are called to do what we can to end this injustice."
We are called to change ourselves and our society. To leave the world better than we came into it. To be forces of good, love, truth, and unity. Even in a world of billions and a society on edge, change starts with you and me. It's an arduous task ahead, but the challenging path, the way of the Cross, is always the path of a disciple of Jesus Christ.
At St. Paul's, we will continue to pray for the victims of injustice and racism and work to build a community that is welcoming and open to people of all backgrounds. When Jesus looked into people's eyes, he looked into their very souls and love them. May he grant us the grace to be and act the same.
If you'd like to talk or pray, I'm here and are are the other priests and staff.
Our responsibility as Catholics toward victims of violence, unjust prejudices, racism and any forms of discrimination
It seems, given the current crises, there are constantly new challenges to be addressed and new questions to be answered. It's enough to make your head spin and nearly explode simultaneously.
As Catholics, we have a special responsibility to love those who are victims of violence and unjust prejudices, racism and any forms of unjust discrimination. We also have the special responsibility of loving everyone, even those who hate us or make us angry. Conversion, both personal and societal, is extremely challenging and requires determined and persistent efforts. At the same time, taking personal responsibility for addressing injustice is essential to our own flourishing and for the building up of a just society.
Because of these challenges, we are called to serve in ministry (as a parish and individuals) with special sensitivity. For some, we won't do or say enough. For others, we will do and say too much. It's critically important for me, for you, for all of us to take all of these challenges seriously, to ask hard questions of ourselves. And it's essential to respond to others charitably, to overcome frustrations, and make new resolutions to love more deeply, and to work more tirelessly for justice.
As a result, during these days, I cannot stress enough how absolutely and critically imperative it is for us as people of faith to prioritize our spiritual lives. In order to see our neighbor as God does -- as his beloved sons and daughters made in His image -- we need to sit for intentional, extended periods of time under the gaze of the God who loves me deeply, personally. Even though each of us is imperfect, broken, and struggling, we are loved beyond measure. Experiencing and knowing this love intimately in prayer is necessary if we desire to share it with the world.
Slowly (and often painfully) He transforms our gaze into His gaze. We start to see and love our enemies, the people we don't like, and the people who have hurt us, as God sees and loves them.
Yes, we must work for justice, create a community of welcoming and hospitality, and stand up to and against injustice. But, for these actions to have a lasting impact, they must come from our own identity in Christ. We must remember His love conquered sin and death. His love, and His love alone, unites and restores all.
On this note, I want to share with you a 2018 document from the USCCB on racism, "Open Wide, Our Hearts." This is a marvelous document and I highly recommend it to all of you for your reading and reflection. I would also like to share Archbishop Thompson's statement after the death of George Floyd.
June 17th Evening of Prayer for an End to Racism and Greater Peace and Justice in Our CommunitySt. Paul welcomes parishioners and friends to a Prayer Service for Peace and Justice. Readings, songs, and prayers will help us move, together, through the difficult realities of pandemics, both from disease and injustices.
Please wear a face covering and enter the building through the east facing double doors near the circle entrance. Because of capacity limitations, registration is required.
Donations will be collected for the June Food and Hygiene Drive sponsored by Bloomington Unitarian Universalist community. Items will be shared with Black Lives Matter, Shalom, and the Pantry at College Square.
We look forward to sharing this prayer service with you. Questions can be directed to Fr. Dennis, O.P.
To register to attend, please visit: https://prayerserviceforpeaceandjustice.eventbrite.com
Fr. Justus Celebrates 60 Years of Priesthood
At morning prayer on Thursday, June 4th, as we celebrated his 60th anniversary of priestly ordination, I was thinking of how beautiful a soul Fr. Justus is and how his life and ministry in Nigeria are a paragon for us in these times.
As a kid who grew up in an almost entirely Polish parish in inner city Chicago, his life's ambition was pretty simple: be close to Jesus and to bring Jesus to people. Whether it was to people in northern Nigeria who had never heard of Jesus or the people of our parish today, his life is really that simple and it is a great example for us. When you love Jesus so well, you serve everyone with the love of Jesus. In other words, love Jesus and serve others.
We are immensely blessed and enriched by Fr. Justus' presence among us. Congratulations, Fr. Justus!
Notes from Reopening for Sunday Mass
I wanted to share my joy with you about our reopening for weekend public Masses this past Sunday. Though the crowds were much smaller than normal (which was expected), it was a great blessing to be able to celebrate the Sunday Mass with our community after 13 weeks of separation. We recognize not all parishioners can be with us at present, but we rejoice in what progress we are able to make toward making the Sacraments more widely available.
Because many of our parishioners are unable to attend Mass at this time. We will make Holy Communion available for those of you who are able to drive to St. Paul's but are unable to come into the Church. On Wednesdays from 9:00-10:30 am and 2:30-5:00 pm, one of the priests or deacon will be available to bring you Holy Communion in your car. To participate, drive to St. Paul's, park in the parking lot, and give the front desk a call. The minister will come out with face covering and sanitized hands to bring you Holy Communion. For the best information, please go to our website.
If you would like the Sacrament of Confession without having to enter the Church, call the parish office to set up an appointment with a priest and one of the priests will meet you in the parking lot when you arrive.
For the time being, here is our schedule:
Fr. Patrick is a Dominican priest and the Campus Minister.