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For the past couple of months, you have been warmly greeted upon entering church and guided to your pew by our team of volunteer ushers. They carefully spray sanitizer on your hands upon entering and again before receiving communion. They check the names of every single person that enters. After all have left the church, our volunteers carefully clean every single pew that was used for that service. They have several additional responsibilities as well. This happens during every service that takes place for our Sunday masses, Tuesday morning mass, reconciliation for the students, Confirmation services, baptisms and weddings. The parish is enormously grateful to each of our volunteer ushers and cleaners. They are the reason we have been able to open the church. They volunteered and accepted training according to the strict archdiocesan guidelines we are using. They give up time during their weekends to come and provide this vital service to the parish. I just want to say thank you to each of you on behalf of myself, Fr. Dominic and the entire parish. Please share a word of gratitude to them as you leave church this morning. They have been working very hard for all of us. God bless you and all those you love.

I was involved in a 3-day online conference this week in preparation for Renew My Church. There were pastors and associate pastors from dozens of parishes from the Archdiocese present for this conference. Our particular planning group includes these parishes: St. Andrew, St. Benedict, and St. Mary of the Lake. Of course, this present article is being written before that conference actually takes place so I can only imagine what the conference will be like.

What will happen in Renew My Church? The discernment teams from each of these parishes will evaluate parish data over a period of several years in regard to: mass attendance, annual income from collections and fund raising, conditions of the parish buildings, strengths and learning opportunities, as well as ministries and charismas that are unique to each parish. The overall objective is to explore options of combining these parishes if necessary, in order to enhance the effectiveness and vibrancy of the mission of nurturing faith. In the near future, please expect invitations to open parish meetings (online) in order to share in the process. There will be a series of consultation meetings involving various parish groups from each of these parishes along with their discernment teams. I expect that I can provide further detail after the conference with the neighboring parishes.

Finally, we are fortunate to have celebrated Confirmations and First Communions for our young people over these past weeks. We will continue to celebrate our First Communions at the 11am masses until the end of October. Thank you to our parents and their families for your patience and presence now that we have finally been able to celebrate these special moments with the young people. Your witness to our shared faith is a blessing.

Also, please note the Awakening Concert for the parish on Friday, Oct. 30 at 7 pm. This will be a pre-recorded concert. The concert is offered free though your donations are gratefully accepted. This information is included in the bulletin here and also on our parish website at ololchicago.org. We have only to raise a little more than $10,000 to reach our goal of $50,000. Thank you for all who have made this possible. We are blessed indeed. Pea

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