Dear Parishioners: PARISHIONERS WAIT IN LINE FOR CONFESSION AT CHICAGO BASILICAOver the last two weeks we celebrated First Confession for our First Communion Class. For the very first time in their young lives nearly 100 children of our parish experienced God’s mercy and forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It was a great day for them and their families. Also at these celebrations we had four priests available to hear Confessions for the many adults present. It was truly an experience of deep faith as the children, parents, grandparents and siblings celebrated God’s mercy in Confession. This week Confessions are to be heard Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night beginning at 6:00PM. Four priests are available each night to hear Confessionpope-master675 before our Lenten Mission. Also we continue to have Confession daily, Monday through Friday, from 11:45AM until Noon.

Have you gone to Confession yet? Pope Francis recently spoke to a group of priests about Confession. In an address he offered advice to the gathered priests about how to hear Confessions with true mercy and compassion. “Confession should not be a ‘torture,’” the Pope said, “but everyone should leave the confessional with joy in his heart, his face beaming with hope,” even if sometimes “wet with tears of conversion and the joy that comes from it.”

We welcome Father Michael Najim to Our Lady of Mercy this weekend for the Lenten Mission. His theme is “The Simplicity of Holiness.” Over the next few nights Fr. Najim explores this theme as he speaks to us about the theological virtues of faith, hope and love. Father serves as the Chaplain at LaSalle Academy and the Director of Spiritual Formation at the Seminary holinessof Our Lady of Providence. He is a dynamic preacher and I am sure you will enjoy his time with us this week. The Mission is our opportunity to take a “retreat” from our regular schedule and from our busy lives to put God at the forefront. As we “retreat” to pray, ponder and reflect we prepare ourselves to reenter our daily lives refreshed and renewed in the faith. I am grateful to Fr. Najim for taking time from his busy schedule to be with us. He is to offer a Mission Talk at 7:00PM on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night. Also on Wednesday night exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is to be offered. It is a great opportunity for our parish and I hope you are able to make it to the Mission.

Next week we begin Holy Week with the celebration of Palm Sunday. Palm branches are to be distributed and blessed at all Masses. At the 10:30AM Mass on Sunday, we are to gather outside for the Solemn Procession of Palms. We mark Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and hear once again the gospel account of His Passion. With the celebration of PalmHoly week Sunday we begin the holiest week of the Church Year. A complete schedule of Masses, Confessions and Liturgies for Holy Week is available in the bulletin.

Also on Palm Sunday we take up the Rice Bowl Collection at all Masses. Those humble cardboard boxes we’ve been filling with coins over this Season of Lent serve an important purpose. They help us live out our Lenten call to give alms but also provide much needed financial support to Catholic Relief Services. The money collected 1-Picture1goes directly to buy food for the poorest and hungriest of our world. I ask you to please count your collected coins in advance and instead make your donation with a check or cash bills. This makes it much easier for our volunteer counters on Monday morning. I thank you in advance for your generous support of this very important collection. We continue to move toward meeting our parish goal for the Catholic Charity Appeal. I thank your for your support and urge those who have not had a chance to pledge their gift to please do so. With the support of all parishioners we can reach the goal of $193,000. Welcome to OLM Father Najim! See you at the Mission this week. Remember Fridays are for fish and Stations of the Cross. God Bless.