I have been meeting at the seven deaneries continuing our focus on “creating intentional discipleship” in our laity, and in our parishes. At one of our deanery meetings a couple shared their journey. I asked permission to use their story in my Catholic Times column as a means of showing successful witness to living this “way of life” which is “intentional discipleship.”
When I was a kid I had mixed emotions about “going fishing” with the family. My dad and mom loved to fish. Dad was a “fly-fisherman” and so he was always actively engaged with that type of fishing and didn’t give much time to just “being” or teaching us kids how. My mom was that person. She always sat, and would patiently wait for the fish to bite. The concoctions she made by hand which she called her live bait were enough to make one gag. But it worked.
May 15 has been an important day for all of my 57 years of life. My parents were married on this day in 1954. I will offer Mass for their souls. When Easter comes early, like this year, the day also can be the day the church celebrates Pentecost.
For the past 45 years Quincy University has been the host site of a profound Catholic renewal called Cursillo, which means a short course in Christianity. This renewal program is a lay church outreach that invites adult men and women to share in a three-and-a-half-day gathering to renew folks in their Catholic faith.
Over the Easter holiday weekend I watched a wonderful television feature about a man who heard Billy Graham preach in his country of China. This Chinese man, probably in his early 30s, eventually converted to Christianity, but the journey of his conversion started in “the preaching of the Good News” by an evangelist named Billy Graham.
All throughout the diocese we hear the Alleluia sung with joy at the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We celebrate this joy for 50 days up to the great feast of Pentecost. Christ brought back hope as he stood in the midst of the Disciples in their locked room. Can you imagine what that glorious moment must have been like for the Disciples?
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki has shared about how many folks he has met on his pastoral visits have become concerned and often ask him, “Are you going to close our parish?” His second pastoral letter recently given to us, Ars crescendi in Dei gratia, has focused on growth in the diocese. We have set out to help all our parishes truly become “Total Stewardship Parishes,” parishes filled with many “intentional disciples.” How do you see your parish today? Is there a vibrant faith that truly is alive in Christ?
If you drive by the rectory/office of St. Augustine Parish in Ashland, you will see a sign in the pastor's office window that says, "It's Gonna Happen." That parish office is mine and I have it there while I am joining with all Cub fans who believe and hope that this year will be "the year" the Cubs can go all the way. (I know we have been hoping since 1908 — don't send a note or call to remind us.)
Lent has begun and we, like Jesus, are invited to enter into the desert of this season of conversion. Time well spent in prayer and introspection will encourage us to focus on where it is that God is calling me to experience growth and/or to a metanoia (change of heart).
Msgr. Paul Heinen was pastor of my home parish, Ss. Simon and Jude in Gillespie for more than 10 years. He came to our diocese from Germany. He was pastor in Taylorville, Jerseyville and Fieldon, and in Gillespie. He was such a well-loved priest in our diocese. In my first years of priesthood in the late '80s and early '90s every year the priests of our diocese always asked for Msgr. Heinen to speak to us at our annual Priests' Jubilee. He was such a great speaker, had a great sense of humor, and was an inspiration to all of us as a happy, joy-filled priest.