May 29, 2016

Over the last few months we have been working on
building an infrastructure for our parish’s Centennial celebration. With the help of the Parish Council who is serving as a steering committee, we are trying to create an overall plan for the year. 

So far, so good! We’ve set December 8, 2016 for the opening  liturgy. (That’s the same day as the first Mass in the original Douglas Street church in 1918 and in the Cathedral in 1954.)  We’ve established a basic plan for the Homecoming Festival on July 1-2, 2017.  We’ve made the biggest gains with our Centennial Speaker Series.

The idea for a year-long Speaker Series was a brainchild of Fr. Brad’s.  He suggested we work to bring in top Catholic theologians and speakers on a variety of topics that may appeal to a range of different demographics. Certainly this is good for us—I’m all for hearing enriching speakers’ presenting engaging talks.  But the hope is that this also works as a way to advance the New  Evangelization by bringing folks to the Cathedral who may not have been with us recently—
or even ever.

It turns out that booking these big names takes a combination of patience and perseverance.  Fr. Brad supplied the patience while I persevered….some may say pestered, but let’s not get too lost in semantics.

Here’s where we stand now:

Fr. Tom McCarthy, O.S.A.: Booked for parish mission March 26-28, 2017. When he was principal of St. Rita of Cascia High School, Fr. Tom packed local parishes for his annual missions.  He’s now the vocations director for the Augustinians and is taking time from his day job to be with us.

Bishop Robert Barron:  Booked for April 19, 2017.  Yes!  Since becoming an Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, Bishop Barron doesn’t take a lot of speaking engagements outside his archdiocese.  We got lucky on this one and are thrilled to  welcome him here when he comes to the Midwest to visit family. We haven’t worked through the details on the subject matter, but surely the man who created PBS’ Catholism series has much to say.

Matthew Kelly:  Booked for Saturday, June 10, 2017.  Huge thanks to Mike Cemeno for helping us get this event booked. Matthew will be doing his four-hour Living a Life of Passion and Purpose workshop. It will be one of the few times Matthew has been in the Chicagoland area in several years.

Scott and Kimberly Hahn:  Pending for fall of 2017.  We are working on dates to bring the Hahns back to St. Raymond for a talk on the Catholic family.

Fr. John Kartje: Confirmed, fall date TBD.  Fr. Kartje spoke at a   recent Pilgrimage Sunday here at the Cathedral, and he was a  remarkable presenter and teacher.  As both a priest and an astrophysicist he will speak on how faith and science co-exist.  

Ideally, we’d like to add one more speaker—preferably a woman—for the fall of 2017.  If you have any suggestions for someone you’d like to see here at the Cathedral, please let me know. (Contact info is below.)

Several of these will be ticketed events.  That’s as much a crowd control tool as to generate revenue.  In some cases—as with Matthew Kelly—the whole ticket process      is in their control.  We fully expect to have full houses all around.

Parishioner Rosie McCune who sits on the Administration Commission suggested having a pre-sale for  registered parishioners when possible. I love this idea, and we’ll work toward it  whenever we can.

If I’ve whetted your  appetite for hearing a good speaker, please consider joining us for our next Pilgrimage Sunday on June 5.  (the flier on page 6 provides all the details.)  Fr. Jack Welch is a great priest, and I know he will give a lively and interesting talk on mercy and St. Therese of Lisieux.

One last note:  One of my favorite things about Fr. Brad is that he encourages his staff to use the summer to recharge and rejuvenate. That wasn’t really practical for the last two years as we were under construction, but perhaps this year, we can take the foot off the pedal a bit.  To that end, I’m going to continue to write Connections columns, but not on a weekly basis.  I’ll stay in touch, I promise, but perhaps without a weekly deadline.

Eileen Hooks Gutierrez                                                             
Director of Development                                                      
815-722-6653, ext. 242



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