What’s New at Old St. Pat’s
I am not sure if it just “comes with the territory” of being pastor, but in this unique world of “operating” a Church such as ours, I seem to get most nervous when I run in to someone outside of this place and their first question to launch the conversation is: what’s new at Old St. Pat’s? When asked the question, I can feel the wheels in my head start turning and my anxiety being raised just a bit as I begin to formulate my answer. In the back of my noggin, I am thinking, somewhat foolishly, to myself: do we have enough going on? Are we “busy” enough? Will my answer impress this person? Can I answer this question with enough selfish pride and conviction that we are on the “cutting edge” of Church life!? I know that might sound silly, but I think human nature and the desire to sound “impressive” starts taking over. Let me tell you how wonderful we are at Old St. Pat’s. Is that what our mission is all about? We have to always be “doing” a lot of things and activities just to make us look busy?
Despite human weakness and wanting to impress my inquisitors, I really do believe that at the center of our mission is Jesus Christ and the Gospel! Is what we are doing helping us to grow in our relationship to Christ? Is what we are doing and the activities we offer helping us all to be transformed and thus compelling us to go forth and change the world into a holier, more just place?
And so we come to the great season of Lent.
Lent, from the German word that means Spring, is another period of sacred time set aside for us to be renewed in our identity as sons and daughters of God and baptized witnesses of the Living Lord. This is our time to figure out what activities, actions, attitudes, and practices are we going to “add” to our lives and which ones will we “subtract” in order for us to grow in this identity as disciples. In a poem about Lent, written by my friend and colleague Bob Kolatorowicz of Old St. Pat’s, he wrote: pay attention to what is most essential. I love that inspired line. On the first Sunday of Lent, we will hear the story of Jesus being led by the Spirit into the Desert for 40 days and nights where He will face temptation. The Desert is a common symbolic place for this period of Lent. In a Desert, you cannot hide. In a Desert, you discover what is most essential. Lent is our time to discover again what and, more importantly, Who is most essential in our lives.
I know temptation is not a glamorous idea and we are warned to avoid those things in our lives that come as temptations. I think sometimes one of the temptations we face is doing nothing. This Lent, if I can use temptation in a positive light, I hope we will all Tempt ourselves to do something so we can be someone different. Lent is an invitation to try something out of the ordinary.
In response to the question asked of me: what’s new at Old St. Pat’s this Lent?, let me tell you a few things, and I do so with humility, yet with eager invitation:
Lenten Speaker Series: You will not want to miss any of the speakers we have lined up for Lent. You will, today, want to mark your calendars!
- Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J., Tuesday, March 22,
- Avis Clendenen, Wednesday, March 30,
- Fr. Mike Pfleger, Tuesday, April 5,
- Eboo Patel, Wednesday, April 13.
To many of you, these names, with the possible exception of Fr. Pfleger, a great Chicago priest, may not look familiar. This is an all-star line-up and the speakers’ reflections around Life Without Borders: Compassion, Forgiveness, Justice, and Communion will not want to be missed. Old St. Pat’s staff worked very hard to secure these great people for our community. These talented, spirited leaders in faith will inspire us and challenge us during these Lenten days. Please make every effort to join us for this series. See page 8 of the bulletin for more information about this series.
Holy Thursday: For many people who have been around Old St. Pat’s for a while, you know one of the more sacred traditions celebrated here is Holy Thursday. For many years, the community of Old St. Pat’s has celebrated the Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper along with a sacred meal at tables, a Christian Seder of sorts. When the tradition began more than twenty years ago, there was enough room for everyone to be in one place —the Church Hall. As the community has grown, so too has the demand for more space. Consequently, we have been celebrating Holy Thursday in three locations on campus! This year, we would like to go back to our origins and try to get everyone in one location. We have investigated venues and we are proud to announce that Holy Thursday will be celebrated at the Great Hall of Union Station, just down the street. I hope you will make plans to experience the beauty and sacredness of this holy night. And yes, Mass also will be celebrated in the Church on Holy Thursday. See page 6 of the bulletin for more information about Holy Thursday.
The RCIA: Known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, we are proud to announce that 43 women and men are in the final steps of the process to be welcomed into the Church at Easter time. This ancient rite of welcome has been expressed so beautifully these past number of years and this year is no different. We are so blessed by these 43 candidates and their sponsors who have been discerning and exploring the mysteries of the Catholic faith since last September. Please pray for them during these days of Lent.
May these approaching days of Lent be a holy and life-giving time for all of us.
See you on Ash Wednesday!
Fr. Tom Hurley