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From Fr. Mike Shanahan, our Pastor

Our focus on this First Sunday of Advent is on the process of Renew My Church. The purpose of Renew My Church is for parishes to explore ways to combine resources so as to enhance our mission of Catholic presence and ministry. This process has become necessary due to many shifting realities for Catholicism both locally and nationally. Many parishes in the Archdiocese have combined and some have even closed.

Renew My Church began for us in October with discussion of several scenarios (options) with St. Mary of the Lake, St. Benedict and St. Andrew parishes. The parishioners and friends of Our Lady of Lourdes have been studying and commenting on several scenarios for these past several weeks. It is clear that our strongest support is for a scenario in which the church of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish continues as our place of worship. Throughout the Archdiocese, there are several parishes who have combined while maintaining two different churches for worship. There are several other scenarios which include Our lady of Lourdes parish joining with either of the other parishes mentioned above. The strongest support seems to be that Our Lady of Lourdes Parish joins with St. Mary of the Lake parish. If you are interested, I invite you to view the many details of these scenarios on our parish website at ololchicago.org under Renew My Church.

After significant consultation, our parish discernment team is preparing a summary for review by Cardinal Cupich and the Archdiocesan Presbiterial Council and the Renew My Church Commission will submit several scenarios with our comments. Cardinal Cupich will inform us of his decision in January 2021. We pray for Cardinal Cupich and all parishioners involved in this process. May we remain confident in God’s providential presence and guidance.

As we begin Advent today, my reflection is upon Jesus who reflected on the scripture of the prophets before him. In Advent we will hear the words of the prophet Isaiah. “Prepare the way of the way of the Lord. Make straight the ways of the Lord. Jesus was profoundly immersed in the words and spirit of the prophets. Jesus came to see himself as the One who would be crucified, suffered, died and rose again to new life. Imagine his trust in the Father who would sustain Jesus through Good Friday through to Easter Sunday. We join in this paschal mystery in our own lives, and particularly in our parish. We believe in Resurrection. We believe that God is preparing a way for the Lord as a result of Renew My Church. We are an Easter people.

In a recent conference on Renew My Church and the Paschal Mystery, we discussed the meaning of the following insights offered by Dr. Terry Nelson Johnson. He offered many profound insights that empower us as we move through Renew My Church. Easter is usually a surprise and we do not organize it or anticipate it. We are usually ambushed by Easter. Easter is a bold expression of God’s commitment to new birth and transformation. Easter is a declaration that love has the last word.

Suffering and joy were dancing in the tomb and Easter broke out. We move forward in Renew My Church empowered as an Easter people.

I confess that it is quite odd to focus on Easter while we are here on the First Sunday of Advent. I only do so to conclude a series of articles in which I have shared useful reflections on the Paschal Mystery and Renew My Church.

Let us pray for one another.

(Please note this article was written nearly two weeks before publication so most current events are not included)

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