Letters from Fr. Francis

June 4, 2023 - Congratulations to Our Graduates!

Dear Graduates,
Congratulations on finishing your academic career at St. Josaphat! In a way, I feel as if I am graduating with all of you, as I too will be moving on from St. Josaphat School. When I first arrived at St. Josaphat, you were young 3rd graders.  It has been an absolute joy watching you grow up and become the wonderful young adults you are today!
I will carry with me very fond memories of your class.  The time I spent with you preparing for School Masses, Altar Server Training, Confirmation and of course, our Washington, D.C. trip together.  You were a fun class to be around and I will miss all of you!
Even though you will be moving on to high school, I hope you will always consider St. Josaphat “a church to come home to.”  Our Sunday liturgies will provide you with an opportunity to stay connected to our community.  And our Youth Group is an excellent way to stray connected with your friends and to continue those friendships through prayer, formation and service to others.
I invite you to consider becoming Greeters, Lectors or Eucharistic Ministers at our Sunday Masses and to consider joining our Parish Choir. This is your parish and I hope you will continue to share your gifts with our parish as you make your journey through high school.
Please know that you can always email me to talk about your faith or if you are ever in need of guidance.  I may no longer be the Pastor of St. Josaphat, but I will always be a Spiritual Father for you. 
You will be in my prayers as you take this next step in your life’s journey. Please also pray for me as I take the next step in mine.  
God Bless,  
Fr. Francis
On Tuesday, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul published a report on his office’s investigation of allegations of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy from all six of the dioceses in the State of Illinois over a nearly 90-year period. 
The report is difficult to read and undoubtedly brings up a lot of anger and pain for all of us. I offer my prayers for all who have suffered in any way from this crisis—victims, their families and the entire Church.  Please know that I am always available to talk and can direct you to resources for healing.
Thankfully, beginning with Cardinal Bernadin in 1992, and continued under Cardinal Cupich’s leadership, the Archdiocese of Chicago has made dramatic improvements to how abuse allegations are handled in the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese is committed to protecting children and supporting victims of sexual abuse. I encourage everyone to read the Cardinal’s statement on the AG Report. It can be found online at: https://agresponse.archchicago.org/
For several decades, the Archdiocese, including our own parish, has taken extensive measures to create safe environments and keep this crime from happening again. Nevertheless, despite the progress that has been made, we must always remain vigilant.
Dr. Mullens and I are committed to working with all members of our community to maintain safe environments for our children.  If anyone has any questions or concerns, I encourage you to reach out to us directly.
As we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost this weekend, let us continue to pray for the healing of all victims and their families.  And may the Holy Spirit renew our Church, our Archdiocese, our Parish and our own commitment as disciples of Christ to protect and serve the most vulnerable in our midst.
God Bless,
Fr. Francis
When I arrived at St. Josaphat Parish six years ago, Mary Jane Sullivan was one of the first people on the staff I sat down with.  She told me, “I was planning on retiring this year.  But you seem like a nice guy and I know this is your first year as a Pastor, so I’ll give you one more year.”  Thankfully, Mary Jane stuck with me for six more years!
I could not have asked for a better Pastoral Associate.  Mary Jane has taught me a lot about how to be a Pastor and how to accompany parishioners through the ups and downs, joys and struggles of life.  She has been my right hand and my closest advisor.
I remember going with Mary Jane to the first summit the Cardinal hosted in the Archdiocese as we began the Renew My Church initiative.  Mary Jane’s enthusiasm for the Cardinal’s vision for what a “renewed Church” could look like in the Archdiocese of Chicago is what kept her here longer than she had originally planned.  
Mary Jane embraced her new role as the Director of Evangelization. She quickly formed an evangelization team and was instrumental in bringing Alpha to our parish.  Mary Jane has helped us to become a more welcoming parish and expanded our ministries to better serve our parish community.
One of my favorite things about Mary Jane is seeing the joy it brings her to share her faith with others. She has a deep love for Jesus Christ, and she has committed her life to inviting others to get to know Jesus and form a relationship with him.  I know that my own faith has deepened as a result of my friendship with Mary Jane.
It has been a joy working with Mary Jane these past six years as we formed our Senior Leadership Team and expanded our staff.  She has done a magnificent job mentoring Sean O’Dea, Nathan Johnson and Emily Skafish to continue the good work she has begun here.  
Please join me in thanking Mary Jane for her outstanding commitment to our parish these past 11 years, and for helping all of us to grow in our faith and draw closer to Jesus Christ.  She has truly lived out the Lord’s command to “go make disciples.”  
Thank you again, Mary Jane, for everything!
Fr. Francis
I would like to extend a Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers and grandmothers of the parish as well as to all of the women who have shown us a mother’s love at different times in our lives.  And, of course, we also remember with great gratitude and affection all those women who are no longer with us but played an important role in our life’s journey.  Your gentle love, words of encouragement and heroic patience have helped us grow and become the men and women God made us to be.  
Here is a beautiful poem I would like to share with you:
A Mother's Love
There are times when only a mother's love
Can understand our tears,
Can soothe our disappoints
And calm all of our fears.
There are times when only a mother's love
Can share the joy we feel
When something we've dreamed about
Quite suddenly is real.
There are times when only a mother's faith
Can help us on life's way
And inspire in us the confidence
We need from day to day.
For a mother's heart and a mother's faith
And a mother's steadfast love
Were fashioned by the angels
And sent from God above.
- Author Unknown

Happy Mother’s Day,
Fr. Francis

P.S.   I know that this can be a difficult holiday for some in our parish.  There are those who have lost their mothers and are still in mourning.  There are some who have had a strained relationship with their moms and need God’s help healing old wounds.  And then there are those who long to be mothers and fathers, but have struggled with infertility or have experienced miscarriages.  Please know that I keep all of you in my prayers today and throughout the year.  I am always here for you if you would like to talk and pray together.