A Faith Community

Second Homily

Dear Parish Family of St. Thomas of Villanova,

In case you were shoveling snow last Monday and Tuesday and missed the televising and the news of his installation, I am sharing some of the poignant points of Archbishop Blase Cupich’s installation homilies for your theological reflection pleasure.

“And so, on behalf of all of us, all those whose fait h and lives have been enriched by your witness and your ministry, I want my first words on this occasion to be ‘thank you Cardinal Francis George.’”

“But, as for my agenda, if I have learned anything over these past four decades as a pastor, I know it is a disaster for me to have my own agenda. That is not because I don’t have dreams and hopes, or that I want to ignore the challenges and trials of life. Rather, it is because I have learned that my agenda is always too small; it’s prone to be self-serving, and ultimately unworthy of the people I am called to serve. No, the agenda has to be God’s, which is beyond our imagining and our abilities. And unlike our priorities, God’s agenda has staying power; it endures.”

“Already in the short time I have been here, I have been edified by the great work so many of you are doing through various charities, apostolates, labor unions, the business community , government programs, schools, volunteer and civic groups; and you should be encouraged to know that helping people get connect- ed, experience being a part of society, is where God is active, working and gracing you in your dedicated ministry and labors. You are using your connection to help those disconnected and that is the work of God.”

“Our aim should be to make sure that everyone has a place at the table of life, the mother needing prenatal and postnatal care and protection for herself and her child, the former inmate seeking a fresh start, the drug addict who needs someone to help her take one day at a time, the father and mother who want their children to have the educational opportunities other families have—th is is the vast army God is inviting us to raise up with him. Central governments in the Church and the state have enormous power to create bonds, stimulate cooperation and motivate people to work together on the local level. That has always been my approach, seeing the diocesan offices as being at the service of our parishes, to animate them while uniting and building bonds among ourselves as one local Church.”

“For me it is quite humbling as I come to offer servant leadership to this local Church to be associated with lay women and men, clergy, religious and bishops who continue to have an enormous impact in society. That is especially so as I now follow two great predecessors, Cardinal Bernardin and Cardinal George, both intellectual and spiritual leaders, but most of all pastoral men who both have been models of faith and trust in God in having to deal with serious illness as they valiantly continued to shepherd the people of God.”

“Spirit, People and Land—these are God’s words to comfort and encourage, words to help us in this graced time and blessed city to keep our focus on all that God is doing, so that our ways may be God’s ways.”

“And, the promise tonight is that, if we keep these three words close to our hearts, all the while remembering our proud heritage of contributing to the good of the nation, then not only will we get things done, but we will probably end up rattling some bones. “

We all have so much to be grateful for today, this week and always. And on the brink of the American holiday of Thanksgiving, one of our new gifts in our life is newly installed Archbishop Blase Cupich. Needless to say, we are “Beyond truly Blessed by Blase!” Why not come to our 10:00am Thanksgiving Mass to thank God for all your have. Please bring a bag of groceries to church on Thursday for our Food Panty.

I would like to share with you a special prayer as we welcome Archbishop Blase Cupich to our Archdiocese of Chicago—and eventually to our St. Thomas of Villanova Parish

O God, Eternal Shepherd of the faithful, Who tends your Church in countless ways and rules over her in love, Look with favor on your servant, Archbishop Blase Cupich. Grant him, we pray, a spirit of counsel and fortitude, A spirit of knowledge and piety, So that he may build up in the world the sacrament of the Church. By word and example, may he be of service to those over whom he presides, So that, together with the flock of the Archdiocese of Chicago entrusted to his care, He may come to eternal life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity Of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.  

I want to share the following holiday greetings from our newly retired Archbishop Francis Cardinal George:

“Every year, on Thanksgiving Day, we stir up again our reasons for living in gratitude: the gift of life and of new life in Christ, the gift of family and friends, the gift of meaningful work, of housing, food and the preservation of dignity. This year, in the Archdiocese of Chicago, we have reason to be grateful for a new Archbishop. Personally, of course, I live and hope to die in the story lin e provided by the Catholic faith. A moment of transition gives me the chance to make that clear, for myself and others. In that story, I am a Bishop; all the rest is someone else’s fantasy. I am grateful , and I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving as you thank God for all that you have received and for the help He has given you.”

How about some homework for you? Take a few minutes and write to me the answer to this question — ”What bit of advice would you want to give our new Archbishop Blase Cupich?” And only for those who are in the retirement stage of life —”What words of wisdom would you like to give to Francis Cardinal George as he joins your rank of retirement?“ Just mail it to me or place it in a sealed envelope with my name on it and drop it off in the Parish Office or deposit it into next Sunday’s collection basket. And who knows—your wisdom might make it in a future Second Homily and also be passed on to Archbishop Blase and Retired Archbishop Francis when I see them.

Your Pastor,

Rev. Thomas R. Rzepiela

P.S. If Father Wojciech looked lethargic lately, perhaps it was the celebrations of his birthday this past week. Happy Birthday and “Sto Lat” to our favorite Associate.

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