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  • Writer's pictureFr. Daniel Gifford


Last weekend, we read of the call of Simon Peter and reflected upon the role of his successors, the popes, throughout the ages, including the window in the vestibule with the crest of the pope at the time when our Church was built. Fittingly, as we begin to read the sermon that Christ delivered with the Twelve Apostles at His side, immediately after He appointed them, we now reflect upon the window (front cover) containing the crest of our own Successor to the Apostles at the time of the Church’s construction: Bishop Schlarman, Third Bishop of Peoria. This window is a bit hard to find, as it is nestled in between the two usher’s closets on the West side of the back/South wall of the vestibule. The crest is a split design, with the crest of the Diocese of Peoria on the left and Bishop Schlarman’s crest on the right. Bishop Schlarman was a great advocate of beauty, allowing art and music to fulfill their noble task of raising hearts and minds to the infinite mystery and glory of God, particularly in the liturgy. He also has been said to have been “ahead of his times,” as he also worked to promote the engaged participation of the people in the liturgy, as well as their education on its meaning and scriptural roots, both of which were significant themes of the Second Vatican Council, which would convene just over a decade after his death in 1951. Lastly, Bishop Schlarman was greatly inspired by the work of French Missionaries (notice the fleurs-de-lis in the diocesan crest), who first evangelized much of the land which now contains the Diocese of Peoria, especially his “hero” Father Marquette. Father Marquette is famed for having offered the first celebration of the Mass in what is now the state of Illinois, near present day Utica. The latter years of Bishop Schlarman’s episcopate in Peoria were partially marked by a long time of preparation for the celebration of the 300th Anniversary of this Mass in Utica, in which he was able to partake not long before his death. This is not unlike how Saint John Paul II viewed his papacy in light of the long preparation for the Jubilee Year of 2000. It is good to look back and consider the long tradition of grace, through which the Lord has guided the Church through so many generations. This looking back must also give us motivation, guidance and clarity to look forward, to where the Lord is leading us today. We must remember that this journey on which the Lord is leading us has been underway far longer than any of us individuals have been walking it. This remembrance should also cause us to call to mind how we have made it this far! The Lord leads us and guides us. He walks with us every step of the way. As we continue the journey, upon which the Gospel of Luke especially has prompted us to reflect, may we take upon our lips the words of the motto written across the bottom of Bishop Schlarman’s crest: Domine, Dirige Nos (Lord, guide us)!

AN OLD FRIEND VISITING: As I have mentioned, next weekend (2/23-24), I will be away at TEC (Teens Encounter Christ). Fittingly, for all three Sunday Masses, your celebrant will be the priest assigned to work with TEC at the diocesan level, who also happens to be an old friend to Saint Louis Parish: Father Kyle Lucas. You may recall when he spent the summer of 2012 here as a seminarian. When I see him at diocesan gatherings, he also asks how St. Louis is doing and speaks of how much he enjoyed his time up here with you all. We are very glad to have him back to visit for a Sunday, as is he! He has other obligations already for Saturday, so if you want to hear him preach, you will want to come to one of those Sunday Masses.

In Christ through Mary,

Fr. Gifford

St. Louis, pray for us!

Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!

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