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We witnessed a tremendous sense of renewal in our parish last weekend as we celebrated the healing grace of Our Lady of Lourdes on our feast day. Thank you to all who participated in our healing services and to all who contributed time, talent and treasure to our parish throughout the year in order to create the vitality we see here. Once again, I remind you of our upcoming Dinner Dance on Feb.23. We are praying for support in a number of ways: You may choose to purchase tickets for the event, raffle tickets, contribute to the silent or live auction at the event or simply make a donation. By the way, these transaction can be made very simply by going online at ololchicago.org . We will use the proceeds for this event to begin work on the exterior walls and ceiling near the statue of the Blessed Mother in the southeast corner of the sanctuary. Please help us make this the best Dinner Dance ever!

Parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago are addressing multiple challenges in these current times. Jesus calls us to rebuild the church to breathe new life into our methods of sharing the Gospel. The Archdiocese of Chicago is now in the midst of a massive initiative known as Renew My Church. The goal is to re-establish a vision and strategic plan that responds to this call for renewal. Our Lady of Lourdes Parish has not been directly involved in this process at this point, nor do I foresee this in the near future. However, it is good for us to be aware of this process that is already affecting parishes near us.

Pope Francis challenges the Church with these words taken from Evangelii Gaudium  (The Joy of the Gospel ): “I dream of a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything so the Church’s customs, way of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.”

This vision calls us to look outward and reach beyond ourselves. It calls for courage and willingness to dream. It call us to be open to transformation that leads to change in our customs and ways of doing things. This even includes our schedules, languages and structures. Some parishes have decided to join with one another and form one parish; other parishes have closed. I have placed some information about these parish changes in church near the confessional. You will find general information about the reasons for Renew My Church as well as some startling statistics that are affecting our church in general.

For additional information, I invite you to go to renewmychurch.org,  which includes an inspiring video message from Cardinal Cupich about the importance of participating in the renewal of our Church and parish structures. The pastoral initiative of Renew My Church certainly addresses the issues of declining mass attendance, maintaining aging parish buildings and rapidly declining numbers of clergy. However, Renew My Church also challenges us to be open to a renewed sense of faith and vigor in our personal and communal encounter with Christ. This renewed faith enables us to find healing, forgiveness, and new life in the midst of constant change. As I see it, we are a church that is immersed in a general culture that is rapidly evolving. It is imperative that we adapt our ways of doing things in order to maintain mission vitality.

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