New Religious Ed, Youth Ministry Roles at St. Pius V

J-Chavez-webWe welcome Jose Edilberto Chavez Velandia as our director of religious education. Jose taught philosophy and social sciences in his native Colombia, studied theology at Mundelein Seminary, and completed an MDiv at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

Jose says he wants to find new ways to involve students and families in religious education. “I want to get to know people better, and become more involved with the spiritual and material needs of our families,” he said.

” A sense of vocation is important too,” he said. “In talks with parents, catechists, and children I plan to address the meaning of vocation, especially the vocation of service.”

In addition to Sunday classes for hundreds of students in Spanish and English, the program includes formation for approximately 100 volunteer catechists, sacramental preparation for adults, Special Religious Education for 60 children with disabilities and their families, and a new formation program for parents as catechists.

Liz_webLisseth Gonzalez, a former part-time employee, will now work full time, and exclusively as youth minister and coordinator of our Confirmation program. With a core group of 15 young people, 16-24 years of age, Jóvenes en Acción, Youth in Action, has made its mark on parish life. In August they organized an all-parish outing to the Indiana Dunes for Mass on the beach; they shared their youthful energy by staffing a food booth at the parish street fair in June, and they have shared their spiritual energy by assisting Fr. Brendan with a skit in a homily at a Sunday Mass. They are currently developing a drama reenacting the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Fr. Tom Lynch, OP, joins St. Pius V staff

TLynch_web We are pleased to welcome to the parish staff our new parochial vicar, Fr. Tom Lynch, OP. Fr. Tom is not new to Chicago, having taught at Fenwick High School early in his Dominican life. He also gave ten years of service at the Dominican mission in Bolivia and now comes to us from Denver, where he served as associate at a suburban parish.

“I’ve already seen how important a vibrant Catholic community can be to the larger local community,” he says of his few weeks in Pilsen. “I’m impressed with how well the parish works together with other neighborhood organizations to care for the well-being of the entire community.”

Fr. Tom grew up in a tiny hamlet near Traverse City , Mich., and credits his parents and a traveling Dominican preaching team with his broad outlook on life and his call to a Dominican vocation.

Welcome Fr. Tom!

The NFL and Domestic Violence

Most people have seen and been shocked by the video of NFL star player, Ray Rice, punching and dragging his fiancé out of an elevator. Others have remarked that they are not surprised; this is what domestic violence looks like. What did you expect?

While Ray Rice has been suspended, other players who have abused their wives or children are not receiving proper disciplinary action for their abuse. One example is Adrian Peterson who was restored to active playing despite having beaten his son. Public outrage is building. Commercial sponsors are withdrawing their support or threatening to do so. These are healthy signs that we as a people do not tolerate abuse in the home.

Although we can find a report in the news every week about domestic violence, it remains a rather unseen and underestimated crime. It happens behind closed doors and in secret and victims are extremely reticent to come forward.

But the facts belie this blindness. The FBI estimates that every 10 to 15 seconds a woman is battered or sexually assaulted in the U.S. The Center for Disease Control reports that one out of every four women is either hit or sexually assaulted by her partner during her life time.

That’s incredible: one out of four.

We might think that domestic violence happens elsewhere but not in our community. But all studies confirm that the incidence of domestic violence is practically the same in all communities; it makes no difference if you are Black or Hispanic, Caucasian or Asian, rich or poor, whether you live in the suburbs or city. Domestic violence exists at practically the same rate in every community
But how do we Catholics respond to this heinous crime and grave sin? Our U.S. bishops have written a beautiful pastoral letter, titled, When I Call for Help. Sadly, it is a well-kept secret.

In the first paragraph they write: “We must state as strongly and clearly as we can that violence against women, inside or outside the home, is never justified.” And then in the final paragraph they state: “We must emphasize that no one is expected to stay in an abusive marriage.”

Unfortunately, most priests have not been prepared to deal with domestic violence. They see it as too controversial or difficult to preach about. They may even think it is inappropriate to talk about in church or that it rarely happens because victims have not approached them. In reality, if they don’t speak about it, victims will be reluctant to come to them. Some priests even tell victims they must return to their abusers and work it out. They tell victims they must accept their cross.

In fact, few dioceses have any services for victims of domestic violence. In St. Pius V and the Archdiocese of Chicago, we are fortunate to have services for victims and their children and even for perpetrators. St. Pius V also offers courses in parenting to help parents raise their children in a healthy environment.

Domestic violence has risen to a new level of awareness and outrage, thanks to abuse by some NFL players. May our Catholic Church authorities also recognize their failure to adequately respond to victims and perpetrators and begin to provide the necessary services to demonstrate the compassion of Jesus to those who suffer so terribly in their own homes.

St. Pius V School needs you on September 25

Parents should be given the ability to choose the education best suited to their child’s needs and desires. As their child’s primary educators, parents know what is best for them and what type of school – public, charter, private, sectarian – best meets their needs.

We hope you will join us on Thursday, September 25, 2014, to rally in support of school choice. There are two ways you can stand with us:

  • Come to St. Pius V School play lot to join our children for our local mini-rally.
  • Slip out of the office for an hour and join others at The State of Illinois Building (The Thompson Center) at Randolph and Clark.

Both events begin at 10:30 am.

To learn more about the many avenues Illinois could pursue to empower parents and improve education visit the Office of Catholic School’s website.