Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Almost universally when I speak with alumni they talk about missing the community at Newman and how hard it has been to find something like that when they graduate and move on.  I know that was a struggle for my wife and I when we graduated from here as well.  The parish we joined didn't have a lot of young families and so it was trying on us to not have that support community we had grown accustomed to in college.  Thankfully we had each other for a mini-community and did find kindred spirits in the youth minister and his wife.  The two of them were a great connection and we learned a lot from them and benefited from the friendship. 

For those of you moving on this May, congratulations on graduating and we wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.  It is important as you head out of here to be strong in your faith and keep up your personal prayer life.  Take frequent advantage of the sacraments and seek out a community to be a part of.  It will take time and effort to find the community and to make new friends, but those relationships will support and enrich your faith journey.  If you find yourself in a place without a great community, maybe God is calling you to grow something there.  Where ever you find yourself, you will be in our prayers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Annual Graduation Mass & Reception Planned for May 12th

On Saturday, May 12 at 5:00pm, Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Msgr. Gregory Ketcham and the Priests of St. John’s Chapel will celebrate the annual Graduation Mass at SJCNC. A special reception in honor of our graduates will immediately follow the Mass. If you are graduating and would like to be recognized during the Mass and Reception, please contact Vickie Hart at vickie.hart@sjcnc.org or call the Chapel Office at

217-344-1184 by May 8, 2012.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Loving Responsibly: Through Vocation

Here is this week's question on living the Theology of the Body, with Clare's response. Remember that if you have a question for Clare, you can email her at claresena@gmail.com.

Question: I’m trying to grow in my love for Jesus. I’ve tried to approach my relationship with Jesus as a kind of boyfriend/girlfriend relationship, but it is difficult because I feel I can’t communicate with Him as I would another person in this world (despite visiting the sacraments, adoration, etc). Do you have any advice on how to “date” Jesus?

Clare: I think it’s great that you’re trying to grow in your love for Jesus! A deeper love and relationship with Christ is something we should always be striving for. However I think you might have gotten a little confused with terminology here. Instead of trying to approach your relationship with Jesus as a boyfriend/girlfriend, I think you should just concentrate on making quality time for Him. I think it’s a good thing to have dates with Jesus, such as visiting Him in adoration, stopping by the chapel, or just carving out a specific time each day that is just for quiet prayer. If you focus more on consistent time and prayer with Him, I think you’ll find your love grow in remarkable ways and you won’t be so worried about how to build your relationship with Him.

I think that one of the reasons that communicating with Jesus seems so hard at times is due to our own failure to listen. One of the ways that I’ve learned to truly hear Christ speak (loud and clear many times) is through reading scripture, specifically the New Testament. You could start by picking a book from the New Testament and just reading and reflecting on one chapter every day. I hope that you find peace and joy in coming to know Our Lord more and more.

Sr. Bernadette: Love is the fundamental vocation of every human being, and thus having a vocation means being drawn by love and in love to commit oneself to a way of life. It is God who takes the initial step in love, leading one to search for a path in life by which to respond to Christ’s love. Our task is to be listeners, capable of perceiving His call, so that we may follow Him with courage and be found as trustworthy servants who have faithfully used our gifts. In prayerful dialogue with Christ, you can examine your personal situations, in order to find the path of life in which you can make the best gift of yourself in love.

If you are discerning a religious vocation, consider attending Calling Catholic Illini tomorrow, March 30th, from 6:00-9:30PM in the Msgr. Swetland Room.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Loving Responsibly

Clare Sena is a newlywed. You may recognize her from the Dating and Relationships Panel Discussion in February. You asked a lot of great questions, and unfortunately the panel didn't have time to get to all of them that evening. Clare has agreed to answer the rest of your questions on this blog, and any others you would like to ask! Other people (such as Sr. Bernadette or Lisa the librarian) may also give their input on questions. We hope that our words may help guide you through the murky waters of dating and relationships!

Question: Where should the "L" word come into a relationship?

Clare: Telling your significant other that you love them should come naturally. You should want to tell them so much so that you can’t not tell them! There is no right time or right day, you really just have to put yourself out there and say it. The scary part is that you’re never exactly sure if the one you love will say it back. Have patience, be honest, and be not afraid!

Question: If you feel you’ve hurt the one you love and the situation’s awkward, what’s the best way to say sorry?

Clare: The best way to say you’re sorry is by simply doing just that, saying sorry. If the one you love doesn’t want to see you, you might consider writing them a note (handwritten) that asks for their forgiveness and is truly apologetic. I think being very frank always helps to dispel awkward tension, so be as open and honest as you can. If the other person needs time to heal you’ll need to give them their time as well, just remember to let them know that you’re praying for them and that you are truly sorry.

Lisa: This is one I’ve struggled with too. Flowers can’t hurt! :) In all seriousness, I think this is a great example of why Catholic teaching can speak to our lives. When we sin, aren’t we hurting our relationship with God, the One we love, and with His body, our brothers and sisters in Christ? And it certainly makes the relationship awkward: We have trouble praying, or we feel distanced from Him or from the people around us. As Catholics, we can say we’re sorry through the sacrament of reconciliation: We go to God (represented by the priest), we tell Him what we’ve done, and then we ask for forgiveness. Then the priest, in God’s place, gives us absolution. The Holy Spirit pours over us sacramental grace, which not only forgives the hurt we’ve done, but cleanses us and makes us strong so that we can work on rebuilding our relationships with God and other people.

Of course in relationships not all hurts are sins (many are due to misunderstandings), but they usually are connected with our fallen humanness. What I’ve learned, from going to confession, is first of all how important it is for us to be honest and ask forgiveness when we’ve done something wrong. We can’t ignore it and hope it goes away, because that will likely only hurt our relationship more. As Clare recommends, if talking face-to-face is too difficult, a handwritten note is a good option. Whether apologizing in person or through writing, it helps to first pray for the person and for healing in your relationship, to pray for the right words and the strength to say what you need to say. If you are the person being apologized to, it is important to remember that we are all flawed human beings, we all make mistakes. Pray for Christ to give you a heart of forgiveness, that you may show mercy towards your loved one, and that your relationship may be healed. And if you need time to get there, as Clare said, ask the person for some time to find that forgiveness. Adding hurt to hurt will not mend anything or make you feel better.

Do you have a question for Clare? Email claresena@gmail.com.