Christmas Tree Lighting
I had the wonderful experience of singing Christmas Carols for the first time with members of the Our Lady of Lourdes Adult Choir at the Jackson Park Community Association Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 4th, 2015. This is the third year that the Adult Choir has volunteered to sing at the event. It is a simple ceremony at the Triangle on 43rd Street and Oklahoma Avenue followed by a reception of hot chocolate and treats at North Shore Bank. I was amazed how many people of all ages were there, especially children. A band of middle school youth serenaded us beautifully with Christmas music as we gathered for the event. Alderman Borkowski was the Master of Ceremonies and Mayor Barrett led us in song wearing a delightful Christmas tree hat that made him at least a foot taller than his already tall frame. Santa Claus strolled through the crowd hugging children and those young at heart. As we sang the carols I looked at the faces of everyone around me and saw pure joy in their eyes and their smiles. The demands of the day, however difficult and challenging, melted away as we focused on remembering what Christmas is all about, celebrating Christ’s birth with joy as a community. Mayor Barrett gave the Christmas tree hat to a young lady with a group of children who lit the Christmas Tree together. All of us cheered as the multicolored lights came on and lit up a small triangle of land on 43rd and Oklahoma, a sign of the bright hope of Christmas!
The 3 Ps - Why We Joined OLOL
There are three “P” words that drew my family into OLOL: people, peace, prayer. A couple of years ago my family was in search of a new church family. We had belonged to another Catholic church for over a decade and it was a nice parish, but it no longer fit the needs of our family. We set out to find a Catholic church that would give every member in our family a passion for God and for our Catholic faith. We longed for a church that would engage us (kids and adults alike) in the mass as well as offer opportunities for fellowship and service. We searched high and low and did not think we could find a good fit- the churches we tried were just too dry, too fire and brimstone, too run-people-over-driving-out-of-the-parking-lot, weak handshakes and a mumble at the sign of peace- you know exactly what I am talking about! And then we found Lourdes! A friend mentioned I should check Lourdes out- she told me it was a progressive Catholic church- and I thought in my head that sounded like an oxymoron, but I was intrigued! So I did what anyone else would do and googled “OLOL” and landed on a website that was life changing. I scrolled in awe through all kinds of faith inspiring headings- everything from social justice groups, to Bible study, to youth events and GIFT- Generations In Faith Together- yes, all people are welcome to participate in catechism together!
So we packed in the family car on Sunday and went mass at OLOL. As God would have it, the first mass we attended at OLOL was a theatrical version of the Prodigal Son- I watched in awe as my kids were engaged in mass! The priest was down to earth and gave a homily that pertained to my life. Then came the Sign of Peace and my family and I were in awe as people smiled, shook hands, hugged, crossed not only the aisles, but the entire church to greet one another and offer a form of peace. And the prayer- true, honest, sincere prayer by people who genuinely cared for one another and welcomed us with open arms. The music was wonderful- a nice mix of traditional pieces and hand-clapping contemporary pieces! After the last song we looked around and, gasp, hardly anyone had left the worship space- seriously! People actually stayed and sang the final song together, and then clapped for the choir, and then chatted with one another. My kids noticed that people stayed for the last song- that means they had noticed that people did not stay through the last song at our previous church. We began attending mass at OLOL on a regular basis, and made the big decision to officially join the parish. We have been parishioners for almost two years now and we are fully engaged in many activities- family events, retreats, youth events, service events- everyone in our family has a role at OLOL. We have found our church home and are proud to be part of the prayerful people who promote the peace and love of God!
“Good News” from the Pews
I won’t use any names, but if I see you in church and you ask me, I’ll point fingers! The “good news” is that Our Lady of Lourdes is really a welcoming community! Case in point: I began attending 5:00 pm Mass on Saturday evening, because I was part of the RCIA on Sunday. I like sitting close to the front, so proceeded to the 2nd row. I found myself in the midst of a group of people who were checking up on each other, laughing together and trading stories. One of them said, “who are you?” I introduced myself and things have not been the same since. If I am missing more than a week, one of them calls me to check on me. They now know where I live, when my birthday is, how many kids I have and that I am busy with ancestry work. Every week we get there early to find out how we are all doing. We have dealt with back surgery, kidney transplant, deaths of loved ones, knee replacements, rotator cuff surgeries, cancer treatments, and moving issues. We are there for each other. We recently celebrated the 4th of July with a picnic. I’m sure if you check, there are more stories like this. We know why we are part of this faith community. It is because of the “good news” coming from the pews!