January 14, 2018

Happy New Year!

At 11:00 a.m. Mass this weekend, we’ll be joined by some of the more than 250 people from the Diocese of Joliet who will be travelling to Washington, D.C.  to participate in the annual March for Life.  This Mass for Life is an opportunity for the Diocese to send these marchers off with our collective blessing.

The March for Life does not get nearly enough attention in the national media, so I thought I’d do my part to share what this event really entails.

Our pilgrims—which include an impressive group of St. Raymond parishioners--will leave Wednesday night from the Blanchette Catholic Center for the overnight bus trip to   Washington.   Most are high school and college students.  It’s good that they are young…this is a tough schedule.   Hardy adult leaders and clergy attend as well.

Upon arrival in Washington Thursday morning, they have chance to freshen up and eat a hot breakfast before heading to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate     Conception.  This stunning church is the largest in the United States and is the site for the National Prayer Vigil for Life.  The group will arrive at noontime to secure seats for the 5:00 p.m. Mass. 

This year, the celebrant and homilist is Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York. I’m so excited they will get to hear and see Cardinal Dolan in person.   He’s an engaging and passionate speaker; I’m sure he’ll connect with his youthful congregation.  (You can watch too--the Mass will be televised on EWTN.)

Friday is March Day.  In the early hours, the group will navigate the D.C. Metro system to get to the March step off point on Constitution Avenue. Then 500,000 strong, they will march to the steps of the Supreme Court.

It is a powerful sight:  More than half a million people—most under 30—peacefully coming together to  be a voice for the voiceless. (The March is also televised on EWTN.  The        Diocesan group members  all wear yellow scarves so keep your eyes open for that.)

Within the Diocesan contingent, the largest group—73--comes from Joliet Catholic Academy.  That is due to the devoted leadership of our own FOLLOW Youth Minister Jeremy Hylka.  Jeremy teaches theology at JCA and moderates the Respect Life Club.  Every other Friday for much of the school year, 90 high schoolers come together to learn and talk about subjects that pertain to preserving the dignity of human life.  Pretty heavy stuff for 7:15 a.m., but so important.

My daughter Celeste is a senior at JCA, and she serves on the Respect Life Club leadership team.  She’ll be going on the March for the third time.  I asked her why the March is        important for people her age.  Her reply:

“It gives kids a chance to stand up for something they believe in.  It encourages us to enrich society through change.  It shows us that making things better is our responsibility.   For many of us, the pilgrimage to D.C. is our first experience in the real world.  It teaches the importance of having a voice for what you believe in.”

Our prayers for a safe and productive trip go with our St. Ray’s kids: Nicole Arnold, Grace Bannon, Nolan Byrd, Noelle       Chovanec, Joe Costa, Ashlyn Egizio, Celia Egizio, Celeste Gutierrez, Isabelle Hanson, Molly Hibner, Michael Murray, Wally Osterberger, Michael Rodriguez, Casey Shepherd,    Kaleigh Shepherd, Cordelia Wagner and Lauren Wiborg.     Cecelia Spesia will be marching with a group from Villanova University.

They’ll be led by Jeremy, Michael Bannon and long-time parishioner Chris Earl.  Chris relocated his family to New Mexico last year but he’s coming back to participate

Eileen Hooks Gutierrez
Director of Development and Projects Liaison
straysdeveloment@yahoo.com, 815-722-6653, extension 242



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