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On the Journey - Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

The McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame partners with Catholic dioceses and parishes to address pastoral challenges with young adults.

The ECHO program exists as one of the leading initiatives within the institute. It is a two-year service-learning program which offers participants the opportunity to earn an MA in Theology from the University of Notre Dame and to serve the Church by working in a parish in a leadership role.

The ECHO apprentices engage in leadership in a variety of parish ministries. Each apprentice is formally matched with a parish mentor to help guide their ministry experiences and assess their professional development.

Three years ago, our parish was part of bringing this program to the Joliet Diocese along with three other parishes in the diocese. Tricia McCarthy, served in our parish community for two years. She graduated from Notre Dame on July 29th and will begin her professional life at Elon University as a Campus Minister, this fall.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community has again been matched with an ECHO apprentice who will begin the two-year service program at our parish later this month. We look forward to welcoming our next young, catechetical leader. More information will be provided in next week's bulletin.

On the journey,
Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski

Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

I hope that you have enjoyed sharing stories and time with your family during this Christmas season. Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and as we listen to the story of how the shepherds were the first to be told by God's angels of Christ's birth, and they were also the first to visit baby Jesus. The shepherds were the poorest and most marginalized of all people in those days, yet they were chosen to bear the good news of what God's angels had announced: The Savior, the Messiah, the Lord, has been born.

Mary who is our model in responding to God's word also hears the good news from the shepherds, she ponders it in her heart and fully responds to it discovering who her newborn baby truly is. Mary's heart becomes the place of responding to Jesus, so too must our hearts become the place of our own response to the Lord.

This Sunday, the Church also observes the World Day of Peace, and the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops offers a Prayer for Peace in Our Communities and encourage all of us to pray for peace.

May this be a peaceful New Year for all!

On the journey,
Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski