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Parish Wide Curriculum 2017

Finding God – Parish- Wide Enrichment

One of the primary responsibilities of a parish community is to foster the faith of its parishioners through religious education. Mistakenly, this is sometimes reduced to merely having a parish school and/or a K-8 Religious Education program, but in fact, the responsibility extends to all ages as we pursue the knowledge of and relationship with God.
But how do we do that and what will we study?

Thankfully, our parish now has a unified curriculum that extends across the entire parish through Loyola Press’ Finding God series. This series is built on a spiraling curriculum that enriches the capacity of each student year by year over set themes. Both our parish school and K-8 Religious Education programs have adopted this curriculum, which provides a strong framework for the rest of the parish. For the first time, our parish bulletin, homilies, classrooms, media, and adult education opportunities will have a common theme from which to draw and every subgroup will be having variations on the same subject at the same time.

This is not only helpful for efficiency of planning, but it also makes sense when offering parents and adults opportunities for faith formation. If you have a child or grandchild in our K-8 programs, you may sometimes wonder how to answer the questions they have about what they are studying in religion class. How beneficial it would be to have a corresponding program for adults that offers broader context to what is going on in the classroom. How much more helpful is it when articles found in the bulletin and on social media reinforce the conversations our teachers are having with their students.

From now until late October, we will be focusing on the first unit of the Finding God curriculum entitled “God our Father and Creator.” During this period, we will be emphasizing the conversations about who God is, how we come to know God, especially through creation.
If you would like a more in-depth presentation to accompany this conversation, you are invited to attend our “God our Father and Creator” session for adults on Sunday, October 15 from 8:50am to 9:50am or on Thursday, October 19 at 7:00pm. Both presentations will be in the Social Hall.

In future weeks and months, please be mindful of the united conversation we will have between our students, families, and parishioners as we continue to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ.

There will be similar presentations for adults during all of the months listed in the parish-wide curriculum below. Please join us in growing as disciples together.

To read more about the overall curriculum, visit


Harvest Food Drive 2017

Harvest Food Drive – September 9 & 10

During the weekend of September 9 and 10 after all masses at Saint Andrew, we will be collecting items (at the back of Church) focussed on the autumn harvest. If you can donate vegetables that are found in season (onions, potatoes, peppers, greens, etc) all contributions will go directly to the Saint Mary of the Lake Food Pantry.

Stop by the table to learn more about the good work Saint Vincent de Paul Society is doing.


Greater Chicago Food Depository

Saint Andrew parishioners regularly volunteer at the Greater Chicago Food Depository. Serving at the depository helps alleviate the problem of people experiencing food insecurity in the Chicago area and our neighborhood specifically. Hours spent helping at the Food Depository help amass credits that purchase food for St. Mary of the Lake Food Pantry.

Trips are scheduled and announced in our bulletin and e-bulletin. To join one of our scheduled service times, contact Nancy Holland by completing the form below.

Upcoming Dates for Saint Andrew at the Food Depository:

Saturday, September 16, 2017, from 8 am to 11am

The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago’s food image1bank, is a nonprofit food distribution and training center providing food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in our community. The Food Depository, founded in 1979, makes a daily impact across Cook County with a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, mobile programs, children’s programs, older adult programs and innovative responses that address the root causes of hunger. Last year, the Food Depository distributed 70 million pounds of shelf-stable food, fresh produce, dairy products and meat, the equivalent of 160,000 meals every day.
The Greater Chicago Food Depository depends on volunteers to assist with breaking down large quantities of food into smaller, more manageable sizes to be distributed to the above mentioned programs. By having volunteers, they are able to keep their number of full time employees low and use that money to purchase additional food to send out to the local pantries. In addition, for each volunteer that attends, our own local food pantries get ‘food credit’ to use towards purchasing whatever additional foods they need to assist with their local fight to end hunger. When you volunteer, you are fighting to end hunger at a local and regional level!



Interest Form in serving at the Greater Chicago Food Depository with Saint Andrewn
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Date at the Lake 2017

Date at the Lake 2017

Registration is now open for the Date at the Lake fundraiser on Saturday, September 23, 2017 including our Golf Outing at Sydney Marovitz Golf Course, Clubhouse Mingle, and Party.  For more information and to register visit (more…)

The Bible and Charlottesville

The Bible and Charlottesville

Originally, I had written a completely different article for this week’s bulletin and then the events of Charlottesville last weekend erupted to my horrified dismay. How are we still embattled in conflicts which are hinged on the premise that one race has a “right” or a “privilege” that exceeds those of another’s?
I doubt that many individuals who read this will be sympathetic the white nationalist movements, so I do not feel there is a need to argue about the fallacy of their position. When flag bearers wave Nazi symbols in the open, there is a general consensus that something has run amok.
I also don’t think the parish or the world needs another opinion article about racism. You should have already (or at least I hope) and probably have been inundated with personal experiences, antidotes, philosophies and opinions about the need to support the equality of all people.
What I do feel is pertinent for us to reflect upon as a parish is where the call to inclusion, for acceptance of immigrants, foreigners, and any person of a different race comes from in the Bible and in Church teaching. Luckily, in terms of supporting material, I didn’t have to look much farther than this weekend’s scriptures.
In the First Reading (IS 56:1,6-7) from today’s scripture the prophet Isaiah states “The foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD and becoming his servants – who keep the Sabbath from profanation and hold to my covenant, them [the foreigners] I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
Is there anything more clear? Who has the privilege of right relationship with God before God’s holy altar? Is it a privileged race? No. Not at all. The prophet Isaiah declares that the covenant with God belongs to those who do the will of God, even if those individuals are foreigners. There is no privilege guaranteed to race. Anyone who places race as a privilege right ahead of the will of God does violence to the will of God.
Later in the Gospel reading for today (MT 15:21-28), a very subtle articulation of this same theme comes through in the actions of Jesus in response to a foreigner who seeks his help. In a playful twist, Jesus even tips his hand toward the perceived prejudice of privilege saying “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” By Jesus’ words, you would think he would deny the foreign woman any benefit, but her faith was so strong that Jesus participated in the healing of her daughter. Again, the race, the nationality, the creed did not matter and it shouldn’t for us either.
In the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching, the Catechism, the Tradition of the Church, and numerous other Biblical passages, we can see the same theme arising over and over again. The Kingdom of God does not have room for bigotry and perverse tribalism, no matter who the tribe is.
Hopefully, there is a moral voice inscribed in your heart that echoes this truth, but part of the service of the Church to us, the disciples of Jesus, is for the Church to remind us that the internal voice crying out for justice has been ratified repeatedly by the sacred writings and actions of the Church. What remains to be ratified is for us to have an unquenched response to justice in our world not by arguing more craftily in a Tweet or taunting others for their political positions but by being instruments of peace, instruments of reconciliation, and instruments of love. If we as Church can contribute this to the conversation and public actions of our society, then like the Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel, our faith will heal us.
-Davi d Heimann, Pastoral Associate

When Things Change – New Mass Schedule

When Things Change – Our New Mass Schedule

I see my nieces and nephews rather frequently. Becaus

Change, Same Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

e of this, it is sometimes hard for me to notice how much they have grown and matured. It’s only when I look back at a photo from a few years ago that I am keenly aware of the changes that have occurred. At other times, one of them might say or do something that gives me a sense of how far they have matured in their emotional development.
Somewhere deep in my heart, there is a place where nothing ever changes. It’s in this world that my nieces and nephews are perpetually five years old and they will always remain the same. But sometimes I get a sense of how much they have grown and matured and I find myself having to reconcile my heart’s image of them with reality.

This dynamic of perceiving things are always the same can play itself out in other areas of our lives as well, whether at work, in relationships or even in our experience of Saint Andrew Parish. Whether we are lifelong parishioners or whether have been here for just a few years, it can at times be difficult to notice the changes that have been taking place. I’d like to draw your attention to two of them.

One change has been the decrease in attendance at Sunday Masses. It’s not a change that is unique to Saint Andrew. Currently we average around 750 people attending the five Masses we have on a weekend. Just a few years ago we were averaging 875. Studies have been done which point to various reasons for the decline in Mass attendance across the country. While there are various factors that a parish may have some control over to improve attendance, there are others where it has little or no control, such as the prevailing culture that increasingly does not place a value on religious practices.

The second change has taken place over the last few months. For the first time, probably since the first years of our parish’s history, Saint Andrew has only one full-time priest assigned to the parish. While we do have the assistance of our resident priests, Fr. Arlin and Fr. Agustin, and the weekend help provided by Fr. Alec and Fr. Ted, there are times when they are unavailable to help with sacramental needs. For example, Fr. Arlin is a chaplain at Presence St Joseph Hospital and is often on call. Fr. Agustin is away this summer doing mission appeals for his diocese. Fr. Alec occasionally is away at a conference or in another country helping a diocese with their canonical affairs. I am grateful for the assistance Deacon Eric provides, but as a deacon he is not able to say Mass, hear confessions or anoint the sick.
Combined, these two changes require us to make some adaptations to our Mass schedule. For the Sunday Masses, all will remain the same, except for the 11:30am Mass. In the past, we have suspended this Mass just for the summer months. In our new Mass schedule, the 11:30 am Mass will be suspended indefinitely. We will continue to have the 4:00 pm Vigil Mass on Saturday, and the 8:00 am, 10:00 am and 5:30 pm Masses on Sunday.

In the weekday Mass schedule, there will make two alterations. We will no longer have an 8:00 am Mass on Saturday mornings. This is in part due to the other scheduled sacramental work expected of a priest on Saturday. Secondly, we will be changing the morning Mass time for most weekday Masses. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, we will celebrate Mass at 8:00 am instead of 9:00 am. On Wednesday the Mass will remain at 9:00 am to accommodate the all school Mass. This new Mass schedule will take effect the week of August 27th, 2017.

The adaptation of the Mass schedule is not merely a reaction to the changes I mentioned above. We are making these adaptations in hopes of advancing our experience of the Mass. When 750 people attending Masses on a weekend in a church that seats 650 people, it means there are some Masses where there are less than 100 people in attendance. This makes it hard to visualize and experience a sense of community and our identity as members of the Body of Christ when only a few people are in a large church. The change to the 8:00 am Masses during the week will make it possible for people who work downtown and/or parents dropping off their children at school to attend daily Mass.

In addition to the changes to the Mass schedule, we will be working on other improvements to other areas of the liturgy in the near future. More information will be made available throughout the year.

I am sorry for the inconvenience that the new Mass schedule may cause to some of our parishioners. As I studied the results of our Mass survey and prayed for guidance from the Holy Spirit, I found this to be the most difficult decision I’ve had to make as a pastor, even more difficult than budgetary ones. Please pray for an increase of vocations to the priesthood. Every year around 30 priests retire, die or leave the priesthood, with only 5 to 12 being ordained to replace them. We need more good priests. Please encourage someone to consider priesthood as a vocation.
-Fr. Sergio Romo

A Walk Down Memory Lane

We had the privilege of welcoming Richard Idstein and Geraldine Idstein back to campus just a few weeks ago. Their story is told through the words of their daughter found below.

Thank you for allowing us to visit the church today. It meant quite a bit to all of us. My parents graduated from the school in 1939 and went their separate ways. After WWII, they met again at a “young people’s club” dance, fell in love and got married on September 3, 1949. Most of their classmates and friends from the young people’s club are now departed. The visit to the church brought back fond memories – “this is where my class used to sit”, “Annie and I walked up there on the altar in our stocking feet to put flowers on the top ledge for sister” , ” we were sitting in this pew when you were 3, and insisted in singing happy birthday to baby Jesus when the candles were lit, and we couldn’t shut you up!”  I was shown where various friends and family sat when they went to Mass. Uncle John, my mothers younger brother (90) chimed in too. This helped make his visit from Portland, Oregon more memorable too. My parents and I now live in Buffalo Grove and are part of St Mary Parish. The foundation of their faith, formed at St Andrew, is now being shared with their great grandchildren. Many Saturday nights the four generations receive communion together. My father “retired” as an usher when he reached 91 last year. My mother “retired” as a Eucharist Minister when she reached 91. They continue to bring communion to the sick in our parish and remain active.  They are grateful to St. Andrews for the great catholic foundation for their faith, and they are grateful for all the memories.  Thank you for making this visit possible.  Sincerely, Kathleen Lyons

First Fruits 2017

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Donate $5 to support our local food pantry with fresh picked corn!

While our pantries do a great deal to support those who are food insecure, often times recipients only get canned food. Fresh food is often forgotten.
Parishioners from Saint Andrew are lining the shelves of Saint Mary of the Lake Pantry with fresh corn gown by friends of parishioners in Mendota, IL.

Drop off the coupon below with your donation to the rectory by Wednesday, August 10. Parishioners are picking up the corn at the Mendoza Sweet Corn Festival on August 14 and bringing carloads back to the Saint Mary of the Lake Pantry. Thank you for your generous support!


When Bad Things Happen

When Bad Things Happen

Recently, a tragedy occurred within my family which left all of us very confused. My cousin died suddenly at the age of 47 without any warning. Unfortunately, I know that many of you have had some similar experience, someone who died too soon without any good answer as to “Why?” It leaves us agonizing, questioning, and even cursing God. We want to know why bad things happen to good people.
A few days later, I found myself in my car driving down to his funeral and by some happenstance, I had stopped at the library earlier that month and so I had some audiobooks in my car. I put one of them in and ended up listening to “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Harold Kushner, a very well renowned Jewish Rabbi.

First off, I would highly recommend the book to anyone who is struggling with the trials that life sometimes throws our way. As books about God go, it is honest, empathetic, and relevant. His own journey with tragedy was not sugar-coated in such a manner as to belittle or betray the suffering we experience as human beings. Rather it properly appropriated that anyone who suffers has a legitimate right to vocalize our despair to God.

Rabbi Kushner is very adept to point out that many people misread the title of his book. They want it to be a book about “Why bad things happen to good people.” Instead the book is about “When bad things happen…” Rabbi Kushner shares his faith experience of a God that is suffering with, crying with, struggling with us in the midst of pain and loss. It sounds a lot like the Second Reading today (Rom 8:26-27) in which “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.”

It is that spirit that I most felt while listening to the audiobook and heading to my cousin’s funeral. Ouch! Argh! Gasp and *Sigh* falling to silence and helplessness. When I knew not how to pray. When I knew not what to say. It was God with me that was praying and speaking of the agony of loss on my behalf.

Still there is that nagging question that eludes us all. “Why?” “Why do we have to suffer?” Rabbi Kushner tries at great lengths to avoid the question. He even admits ignorance to the question but also points out that he does not believe that God would command or desire for suffering to occur. He denies that it is possible for such a God exists. Instead, he professes a God who walks with us in our experience of life and laughs in our joys and cries in our sorrows. He doesn’t believe in a God who controls things.

I think that is where we, as Christians, can join him and find the outline of an attempted answer to the question “why?” The teaching of the Church is that we don’t believe in a God that controls things even though He could. God is the nuance of compassion felt in the midst of life’s tragedies. Why did bad things happen? It is stochastic at best and the caustic action of evildoers at worst, but either way, it isn’t God that causes suffering.

Instead, we believe in the God profiled by Jesus in today’s Gospel MT 13:24-43. Jesus relays a parable about a farmer who knows that weeds are growing in this wheat field and is asked if the weeds should be pulled out. He replies “No, if you pull up the weeds, you might uproot the wheat along with them.”

In this simple reply, we can find a reason why God behaves the way God does even in the midst of the senselessness and insanity. God so entirely respects our freedom, that given the choice of violating our freedom or accompanying us, God has chosen the latter. God would rather groan with us, cry with us, bring us together, nurture us with the sacrifice of Christ’s Body and Blood, forgive us, console us and inspire us towards justice and right action. He would sooner do all of these things before he would do violence to our freedom, to our bodies, and to our world.

I miss my cousin, even though I didn’t interact with him frequently. I miss his presence and I’m angry that I can’t expect God’s intervention to undo history in accordance with my own desire. I know you have felt the same at some point in your life. First off, may we unite together in prayer and be honest about our doubts during these moments of life. Secondly, I would highly recommend Howard Kushner’s book. But ultimately, may we find a path forward with God, that welcomes God as our companion “interceding with inexpressible groanings” on our behalf.

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate

Effecient v Effective

The Efficient vs. Effective

How effective are you?

I throw that question out to our parish community with a sly grin on my face that you probably can’t see right now. That’s because in all the communities that I have served, I rarely have found as many “successful” people in one place. With that success, I imagine many folks consider themselves “effective,” but I don’t know if that I agree on the use of the word “effective” in the same manner we tend to apply. I think many of us in this parish are extremely efficient. We get things done, often very well, but there is a difference between our efficiency or our successfulness and that of being effective. The secret to understand this difference is embedded in our scripture readings this weekend.

Start with the First Reading, Is 55:10-11, (one of my favorites by the way). The reading from the prophet Isaiah cast an analogy between the “Word of God” and “snow and rain.” As we hopefully learned in science class, there is an inevitability to snow and rain in our ecosystem. It falls from the very place to which it will return in a cyclical manner. But for it to fulfill its purpose, it must water the earth, giving life to plants which grow so there may be food for the hungry. Before the water completes the cycle, it fulfills its purpose.

All in all, we could say that the system is rather inefficient. In fact, that’s why we’ve improved the agricultural process through irrigation systems and whatnot. But the Word of God is not judged on its efficiency but rather its effectiveness. Is the Word of God efficient? Seldom. Is it effective? Always.

Now let’s take that insight into the reading from the Gospel for today (MT 13:1-23). Jesus presents parables to us using the analogy of agriculture. Right off the bat, we could say that this is not an efficient literary choice for Jesus to use if he intended to reach those of us living in the heart of Lake View. Agriculture is not the dominant trade for the population of Chicago and even for those of us who meddle in backyard gardens, it’s not a very familiar analogy to use. We tend to buy our tomato plants as pre-grown seedlings not as seeds.

Furthermore, the parable given by Jesus, the sower who plants seed where it can’t grow, is the example of farmer who is not very efficient. Successful farmers plant only where they know they’ll produces a successful yield. Finally, as a hallmark demonstration of how this weekend’s scripture readings seem to be a compendium in praise of inefficiency, we hear the disciples themselves voice their frustration that Jesus even uses parables. They ask, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” It’s obvious that even the crowds to which Jesus spoke somehow didn’t get it. You can imagine them saying “Come on Jesus! Speak clearly! What’s the big deal?”

And to this end, Jesus gives a cryptic reply that should rattle us a little bit. He says, “They look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.”

For all our skills, talents, ability, and faculty to control the world around us. As efficient and successful as we think we are, we miss the bigger picture. In the end, we aren’t very effective.

But God is. God is as effective as rain and snow, as seed scattered so that it can grow, and as parables and poems that speak not to the mind’s feeble and misguided attempts to understand, but speak to the lived experience of God’s love in our life. God’s word stubbornly persists past the illusion of our vain imagination and transforms our meager attempts into graced gifts of faith, hope, and love.

To be honest, in all our skill and capacity for getting things done, none of us are that effective.

-David Heimann, Pastoral Associate