April 30, 2017

Did you ever have the experience where you anticipate and plan and prepare for something and when the big day finally arrives, it’s just sort of meh?

Well that didn’t happen when Bishop Robert Barron came to the Cathedral last Wednesday.  It was a tremendous evening!  I thought I’d share some of the staff observations and experiences.

We were expecting Bishop Barron to arrive at the rectory front door. We were all trying—and failing—to discreetly peek out the window to see if he’d pulled up.  We didn’t have anything else to do because we’d hidden all of our work in a fervent burst of    company cleaning.  (If you need something that used to be on my desk, I’m going to need a little time…)

While all our noses were pressed to the front glass, Bishop Barron pulled in the back lot.  We quickly regrouped, and I went outside to greet him.  Almost immediately, he asked if we’d promoted the topic of his talk.

I laughed (nervously, I’ll admit) and said “not really.”  In the course of the six months we’d been promoting Bishop’s visit to the     Cathedral, only two people had asked “what is he going to talk about?”   I didn’t know his original  topic—”Finding the Nones”— until mid-March and by then, I figured we’d just stay on message. 

“Good” said the Bishop.  “I want to talk about prayer.”  And off we went into the rectory where the staff tried to pretend they hadn’t been watching the entire exchange out the kitchen window.

For someone who has written sixteen books, produced two highly-acclaimed documentary series and cultivated nearly a million Facebook friends, Bishop Barron is a very down-to-earth man.  He happily visited, posted for a picture and signed a well-loved book.  As dinner time rolled around, Bishop Conlon, Bishop Siegel, Fr. Brad, Fr. Burke, Fr. Joe and Fr. Elizeo gathered with him at table.    Rumor has it, there was much talk of the Chicago Cubs.

Meanwhile the staff moved to the Cathedral to welcome our   capacity crowd.  Everyone had set an alarm on her iPad, so in a bit of synchronicity, the doors all were unlocked exactly at 5:30 p.m.  In came the faithful, and an amazing feat occurred: THEY SAT IN THE FRONT PEW.  Catholics!  Imagine that!

As the crowd filled the pews, the energy in the Cathedral grew and grew until Bishop Barron and Bishop Conlon came out of the Sacristy to an immediate and sustained standing ovation.

For the next 75 minutes, Bishop Barron talked about prayer—an essential part of all of our spiritual lives.  He was insightful, straight-forward, relatable, practical and funny.  It was wonderful!

At one point, he spoke about times that he has felt he heard God's voice.  He relayed a story of presiding at two Masses in two different churches one day. While driving to the second Mass, he said God told him "don't do that one, do the other one." He felt directed to switch homilies.

I think that's what happened to him last Wednesday afternoon when he was driving to us.  Don't do that one, do the other one.  While evangelization and “Finding the Nones” are crucial topics, people in that Cathedral needed to hear what he presented on   prayer.  I know I did.

I hope you saw some of the media coverage for the funeral for Fireman 1st Class Michael Galajdik of the US Navy.  We were honored to be the site of the Mass of Christian Burial for him last Saturday.  A local resident, Michael was killed aboard the USS  Oklahoma on Sunday, December 7, 1941. After 75 years, his remains were     recently identified through DNA testing, and he was brought home for burial.  It was a very moving experience for all who participated.

Thanks go to our bereavement team for their work with this funeral and all the funerals that come to the Cathedral.  Under the direction of volunteer coordinator Peg Schauer, one of our Bereavement Ministers walks each family through the funeral planning process.  Their work is done with compassion, empathy and grace.  Our   Bereavement Ministers are truly a blessing to those whom they serve.

As an aside, I wondered if any other people killed on December 7, 1941 were buried from St. Raymond Parish.  Based upon the funeral records from 1941—1942, Michael was the first and only.

One final pitch:  Be sure to follow our Facebook page—Cathedral of St. Raymond Parish and School.  We have had a steady stream of important and interesting events  in recent weeks.  We are happy to share the most current information and a whole slew of photos on our Facebook page.  Check it out!


Eileen Hooks Gutierrez

Director of Development and Projects Liaison

straysdevelopment@yahoo.com  815-722-6653, ext. 242



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