BY FATHER BERNIE PIETRZAK
Dear People of Saint Anne,
Christmas Masses this past year were really a bright light of hope and joy in this most challenging year. The sunny and mild weather encouraged so many parishioners, young and old, to join us for worship in person and through our livestream outreach. We had close to two thousand people join us for worship. I trust and hope that your family Christmas celebrations were marked by the same light of hope that we knew here at church.
We now have entered a new year, still in the midst of a pandemic, but unlike last year, we have come to know the grace and blessing of vaccinations and booster shots that are offering greater protection than we knew last year at this time. This coming year will be marked by many moments of grace and challenge. There will be celebrations of achievements, life-changing moments like baptisms, weddings and anniversaries. There will be times when we will struggle with disappointments, illness and death. Through it all, the Lord will be by our side.
Renew My Church is entering its fifth year, to renew the Church in Cook and Lake Counties through its many parishes. Many parishes already well into this process had to first discern the physical structure that would best enable a renewed parish structure to serve the local community.
We will find ourselves here at Saint Anne in the final wave of Renew My Church. This wave involves groupings such as ours in which structural changes are not under consideration due to our current size and financial stability. We are grouped with Holy Family in Inverness as the Invarrington Grouping.
After Easter this year, we will enter the evangelization phase of Renew My Church, which restructured parishes have entered only after establishing their new parish structure.
The Archdiocese has a three – pronged vision for how Renew My Church will transform who we are as Catholic Christians in the greater Chicagoland area. The first of these is for people to develop a renewed encounter with God through a more personal relationship with Jesus. This is in response to an identified need for people to find a deep sense of belonging.
For believers, there is no deeper belonging than to know that we are loved by God as the one who chose to be born as one like us so that we might strive to become more like God.
Out of that deep sense of belonging, we become disciples who want to share our faith with an invitation to others to encounter what we have found in and with Jesus. Our faith as disciples is not meant to be something that we keep private and share only within the confines of a church building or moments of private prayer. A dynamic faith is something we want others to know about. It is not that we become street corner preachers forcing our faith on others at every family gathering or friendly conversation. It is rather that we become unafraid to share how our relationship with God in Jesus shapes and graces our lives.
At our Core Staff Administration meeting on this past Tuesday, it was decided that there will be no in person group meetings on campus through the month of January. This is for the safety and protection of all. It is due to the rapid rate of COVID-19 infections that are surging everywhere. This will include Monday Morning Scripture groups and all other ministry, prayer groups or social groups that take place in the Parish Center and the Gathering Space meeting rooms.
You will notice that the Chapel is now closed. Daily 8:15 a.m. Mass and Saturday Confessions will take place in the Main Church at 9:30 a.m. until all are heard. The doors to the Parish Center will be closed. The Parish Office will be staffed, but the doors will be locked. Please ring the doorbell during Office Hours.
In the Grace and the mercy of Christ our Lord,
Father Bernie Pietrzak