As a child and as a young man, I did not like history. My first undergraduate degree was in physics because I love math and science. To me history was boring, filled with a bunch of dates and facts that did not concern me. My lack of interest in history was an unintended slight to my dear dad who was a professor of history at a Jesuit university for almost forty years. His specialties included World History and European History.
Now I am beginning to appreciate the value of history. My dad used to tell us all the time: “History is the teacher of life.” As I am getting older and hopefully wiser, history is beginning to make a lot of sense. Without knowing where we came from, we cannot forge ahead meaningfully to where we want to go. The more knowledge I acquire of the Church’s history, the more understanding I develop of the Church today.
This fact holds true also for our parish. When we celebrated our centennial three years ago, we became aware of the numerous sacrifices made by those who have gone before us. There are many current members of our parish who have blessed our community for several decades. I cannot even imagine how hard it must have been for parishioners in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, to raise money to build our beautiful church. I don’t believe many of those parishioners had great financial resources.
I just came across the campaign materials put together by the parish under Monsignor Duffin to raise money to build the convent and the junior high building in 1955. Parishioners were asked to be part of the “Fair Share Plan” whereby each member would contribute according to their means. The smallest weekly contribution expected was as low as 65 cents for a period of three years. It is through gifts big and small that our beautiful parish was established. We cannot even list the thousands of parishioners who have given in different ways to make St Paul of the Cross Church what it is today.
A couple of days ago I was talking to a parishioner who graduated from our school in 1963. He has been a member of the parish his entire life. There are many of you who have been active, contributing building blocks of this faith community. You have contributed in time and talent as well as financially. I know that many of you have served over the years on committees and groups, running ministries and festivals. We would not be what we are without the sacrifices of thousands of faithful parishioners who have gone before us. I want to publicly acknowledge “our elders” who have established God’s Kingdom here in Park Ridge. Many of those parishioners are with the Lord but several are still very active at St Paul. I thank especially those who served with Fr Kinane or Fr Carl in positions of leadership and responsibility. May God bless them all!
The best way we can honor the sacrifices of “our elders” is to ensure the long-term vibrancy and efficacy of our great parish. The capital campaign, “Fulfilling our Centennial Promise,” is our grateful response to the sacrificial gesture of those who built our parish over the years. With the help of our Parish Pastoral Council and our campaign Leadership Committee, we have done much of the groundwork. The campaign itself will be launched officially on Saturday, February 7, at 6:30 pm in our Parish Life Center. We will have a Mardi Gras celebration with two live bands, and ample food and drink. We have invited our new archbishop to be with us. Hopefully Archbishop Cupich can attend even a small part of the evening.
Over the last several months many parishioners have expressed to me their satisfaction in being part of our community. Some even have said to me that they are proud to be St Paul of the Cross parishioners. Here is a concrete way to demonstrate our love for the parish and our investment in this faith community. Come and be active participants in our campaign. First of all, plan to attend our official launch on February 7th. Second, make sure you are present at one of our several Town-Hall Meetings (February 9th, 17th and 22nd) that will familiarize you with the details of our campaign. Third, contribute to the success of the campaign not only through your financial gifts but also through your prayers and your enthusiasm.
I am hoping that our participation in this campaign will be an act of prayer. May our gift be a response to the God who has been very generous to us! I am inviting every household to pray about this and make a decision as a family. Please hold the parish in your daily prayers during the coming months. Let us remind ourselves of the words of Scripture: “If the Lord does not build the house, the builders labor in vain.”
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...