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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

The Epiphany of the Lord

"Arise, shine; for your light, has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but the LORD will rise upon you. And His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising".
—Isaiah 60:1-3

Starting this Sunday, January 8 to 14th, the Catholic Church celebrates National Migration Week in the United States. This is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking. The theme for the 2017 celebration draws attention to Pope Francis' call to create a culture of encounter, and in doing so to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us.

Welcoming the migrant has a central place in the development of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Stories in both the Old and the New Testament highlight the fact that in "providing hospitality to the stranger we might also be unwittingly entertaining angels" (Heb 13:2; Gen 18:1-15). The Letter to the Hebrews, highlights the story of Abraham who, by faith, "obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country." (Heb 11).

Therefore, we must always remember that our very faith has its roots in the decision made by one man, Abraham--a migrant--who decided to follow God's command to travel to a foreign land.

Catholics are called to stand with new American immigrants as our brothers and sisters. This is who we are. This is what we do. We belong to the same Church no matter where we're from. Our Catholic identity is not based on where we live but on our faith in Jesus Christ. We're one family, and the Catholic Church is always our home. We are also called to teach people about what the Church's rich body of social thought says about our Christian responsibility to "welcome the stranger among us."

The U.S. Catholic bishops welcome our support to protecting immigrants and refugees. Information is available online at the Justice for Immigrants' homepage at justiceforimmigrants.org.

On the journey,
Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski