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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

Third Sunday of Lent

Last Monday, March 13th, Pope Francis celebrated his 4th anniversary as Bishop of Rome and leader of the Global Catholic Church. The Holy Father's first four years have been driven by mercy, service and humility. Reading about the pope in the media one confirms that his message and actions have clearly captured the world's attention. An important theme during the first four years of his papacy has been "forgiveness".

I want to share some experts taken from an article published by Loyola Press: Pope Francis on the Parable of the Merciful Father. This reflection speaks to the people who might feel their sins are too great to ask God for forgiveness.

"Think of the younger son who was in the father's house, who was loved; and yet wants his part of the inheritance. He goes off, spends everything, hits rock bottom, where he could not be more distant from the father. Yet when he is at his lowest, he misses the warmth of the father's house and he goes back…

Had the father forgotten the son? No, never. He is there, he sees the son from afar; he was waiting for him every hour of every day. The son was always in his father's heart, even though he had left him, even though he had squandered his whole inheritance, his freedom. The father, with patience, love, hope, and mercy had never for a second stopped thinking of him, and as soon as he sees him still far off, he runs out to meet him and embraces him with tenderness, the tenderness of God, without a word of reproach: his son has returned!

…God is always waiting for us; he never grows tired. Jesus shows us this merciful patience of God so that we regain confidence, hope-always!"

- Excerpted from The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis

On the journey,
Fr. Dennis G. Lewandowski