DARKNESS WILL LOSE
The first candle on the Advent wreath gets lit today. The victory over darkness is underway, and a great Light promises to appear.
During Advent, confessions will be heard in the reconciliation room on the lower level of the Cathedral every Monday, Tuesday & Friday of the season from 4:30-5:30pm. In addition, again this year, three priests will be available to hear confessions from 1:00-3:00pm on Christmas Eve. In all there will be sixteen extra hours of confession offered in addition to the three hours regularly scheduled on the Saturdays of Advent; that makes twenty-eight hours of confessions heard this Advent in our parish. (That doesn’t even count the three and a half hours of children’s confessions in cooperation with our own religious education program and with the Frances Xavier Warde School.) Go to confession during Advent. Prepare for Christmas. At Holy Name Cathedral, the sacrament will be available every Monday, Tuesday & Friday from 4:30-5:30pm; on Saturdays 12/3, 12/10, & 12/17 from 3:00-5:00pm and from 6:15-7:15pm; and on Christmas Eve from 1:00-3:00pm. The room offers opportunity for either face-to-face or anonymous confession. Hear the words of absolution pronounced over you.
Next weekend at the Cathedral and at almost all Catholic Churches in America, there will be a second collection basket passed for support of the Retirement Fund for Religious – Sisters, Brothers, and Priests who are members of religious communities. Please help. There are over 34,000 religious over 70 living in the US. In 2012, the average annual cost of their care was $38,000 per person. In 10 years, the number of retired religious will outnumber the younger, working religious by four to one. For most of their lives, elder religious worked for small stipends. There were no 401(k) plans or pensions. The average annual Social Security benefit for a religious is $4,941.71—roughly one-third the amount received by the average beneficiary in the United States. Over the last 25 years, Catholics in the United States have donated $698 million to this collection. As a former Chicago Catholic Schools Superintendent who later became a bishop once referred to the nuns who taught in the 1950s and 1960s Catholic Schools, “This collection is not a matter of charity. It is a matter of restitution. We stole from those women. I know; I signed their paychecks.” The Retirement Fund for Religious has been around for 25 years. Next weekend at Holy Name, the second basket will be passed after Communion.
How many times do I get asked by a Sunday morning visitor to Holy Name, “Where’s a good, inexpensive place to get breakfast?” I’ll have the answer next Sunday! Pancakes will be served in Holy Name’s cafeteria from 9:00am until 12:30pm on Sunday, December 8. For just $5 you’ll get pancakes, sausage, fruit, juice, and coffee. Thanks to the Parish Life Commission for setting up the morning with the help of Sunny Side Up, 42 E. Superior – actually a good breakfast place every morning, Superior & Wabash. Of the phenomenally inexpensive $5 coat, $3 will go to the Cathedral’s Rectory Renovation Fund. Wow! I’ll be there early next Sunday! And I’ll look for you with my regular promise - “There will be a pancake in the cafeteria with your name on it.”
A few weekends ago at all Chicago Archdiocesan Churches, we heard a CD address delivered by Mundelein Seminary rector Father Bob Barron promoting vocations to the priesthood in Chicago. Also on that weekend at Holy Name Cathedral, we displayed photos of the six local seminarians who are associated closely with the Cathedral parish. Five are either former or current residents of Casa Jesus, the formation house for Latin American men discerning a vocation to the priesthood in Chicago. Casa Jesus, along with Abramowicz Seminary, a similar program for men from Poland, occupies the building at Chicago and Wabash on the Cathedral campus. The photos of the seminarians are now adorning the wall on the lower level of the Cathedral next to the Reconciliation Room. As you wait to have your confession heard or maybe even every day, pray for the seminarians connected to the Cathedral – from Mundelein Seminary, Agustin Garza Candanosa, Michael Purszke (American-born former lector at 7:30pm Sunday Masses), & Jesus Emanuel Torres Fuentes; from St Joseph College Seminary on the Rogers Park campus of Loyola, Israel Jimenez; and currently assigned to the Cathedral and in residence at Casa Jesus, Jesus Eduardo Davalos Lopez from Mexico and Robinson Ortiz Hernandez from Columbia. Keep the young men and their vocations in your prayers.
This Sunday we commemorate the 55th anniversary of the Our Lady of the Angels School Fire. On December 1, 1958, a fire started in the OLA school basement sometime between 2:00 and 2:20. It likely was lit by a disturbed child. The fire burned undetected for an estimated 30 minutes. Five miles west of the Cathedral, OLA had an enrollment then that would make it today the largest Catholic School in Chicago – 1,300 K-8th grade. The teachers all were Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary – BVMs just like those who taught at both Holy Name Cathedral Grade School and High School before they closed in the 1990s. The first firefighters arrived within four minutes of the call. However, the fire may have been burning for a half hour before the alarm. Furthermore, the trucks were sent to the rectory address on the other side of the block, costing valuable time for the trucks trying to navigate through a mob of terror-stricken parents. Emergency equipment, escapes, alarms, and detection devices we take for granted today were not a part of the building which had passed inspection just weeks before the blaze because the school was grandfathered beyond the 1949 fire code standards. By the time the fire was detected, for 329 children and 5 teaching nuns on the second floor, the only remaining means of escape was to jump from their windows to the concrete and crushed rock 25 feet below, or to pray for the fire department to arrive and rescue them before it was too late. Recognizing the trap they were in, some of the nuns encouraged the children to sit at their desks or gather in a semi-circle and pray. And they did - until the smoke, heat and flames forced them to the windows. Some began jumping - others fell or were pushed. More than 200 courageous firemen heroically began rescuing children from the second floor windows. The hellish conditions in some of the classrooms had become unbearable. Many children jumped, fell, or were pushed out before firemen could get to them. Some were killed in the fall, and scores more were injured. Smaller children were trapped behind the frantic crowds at the windows, blocking any chance to escape. Some who managed to secure a spot at a window were then unable to climb over a three-foot-high window sill, or were pulled back by others trying to scramble out. Helplessly, weeping firemen watched in anguish from the top of ladders as classrooms still filled with frightened children exploded in flames, instantly killing those who remained. In the end, 92 children and 3 nuns perished. For more information, try www.olafire.com. This Sunday, pray for those still alive who endured that horror. Pray for their families. Pray that such pain never strikes Chicago again. Pray for firefighters. Pray especially for those 95 who lost their lives in the Our Lady of the Angels School Fire.
This weekend at all Masses, 2014 calendars are available complements of our friendly sponsors – Delaware Place Bank at 190 East Delaware Place, operated by parishioners, across the street from the Hancock Building; and Michalik Funeral Home, 1056 W. Chicago Avenue, the closest funeral home to the Cathedral, and the home that arranges most Cathedral funerals. Calendars are at the Cathedral doors. Please take one.
Msgr. Dan Mayall