From the Desk of the Pastor

                                                                                                              

 

ST. STEPHEN’S – A LEGACY OF FAITH

 

Dear Parishioners,

 

Let us build the kingdom of God without fear!

Summertime calls all of us, at least in this northern hemisphere, to get outside and enjoy the limited months of summer available. We often refer to this time as the lazy, hazy days of summer! However, building up the kingdom of God here on earth doesn’t allow us to take a vacation from the mission of Christ, even in the warmth of our summer activities.

It has been a few months since we celebrated Easter, where the joy of Easter called us to be inspired and share our faith and the love of God with others. Maybe for some of us the proverbial honeymoon period since Easter is over, and we find ourselves preoccupied with the practical issues of living our lives with other flawed humans like ourselves. Even though, through our Baptism, we are reborn into new life with Christ, we still face challenges and trials as individuals, communities, and, as a nation.

Even the early Church, and now thousands of years later, we can still relate to the darkness of our world. This darkness can be war, or natural disasters in far-off places, even within our own borders that we hear about in the news. We continue to see failures within our schools, neighborhoods and communities in which our own friends and families live in. And, of course, the gun violence and abuse of human dignity that happens in so many unfortunate ways. Sometimes we can feel alone and wandering when we find ourselves in the stormy weather of our own lives. We may feel at a loss for how to reverse the tides of hate, division, and iniquity in our world.

And yet, Jesus calls us to himself – calls us to hope. Jesus shows up in the most unexpected places and tells us…..”Do not be afraid!” Why would he say that? What is so bad about fear? After all, doesn’t fear give us a healthy respect for danger? Yes, it does. But while this is true, fear can also overtake our lives, keeping us from moving forward in loving Christian ways. This is what Jesus wants us to avoid.

Studies show that first responders overcome fear for personal safety by getting the training that can enable them to save lives. Safety experts would tell us that, in fact, worry and fear-based paralysis can actually be less safe than acting. Recognizing fear, then courageously working through difficult situations in order to receive and share God’s love, is the goal of casting our fears aside.

When we cast our fears aside, when we heed Jesus’ loving call to not be afraid, then we refuse to allow fear or failure to keep us from trying to act outside our comfort zone. We do not let the power of the fear of intimidation keep us from witnessing our faith to our friends, family, coworkers. Instead of potentially denying them the joy of the Gospel that we have experienced in our own lives, we can offer them our own example of trusting in the Lord to calm the tides of our fears and difficulties. God blesses us with the gift of life, live it in trust and without fear!

 


 

In honor of Respect Life month, Archbishop Listecki shares a message about the importance of supporting and respecting all life, from conception to natural death. To learn more, visit archmil.org/respectlife.

 

Click on the link below or the image of Archbishop Listecki to view his Respect Life Message for October 2022

Archbishop Listecki's Respect Life Message October 2022

 

             

 


 

 

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

 

This last weekend, I participated in the annual meeting of the Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Members from all over the Midwest gathered at the Drake Hotel in Chicago to pray and witness to the admission of men and women to the Order. On Sunday, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago (Lieutenancy Prior) presided over the ceremony in Holy Name Cathedral.


It was wonderful being back, and the memories just flooded over me about the day of my ordination to the episcopacy in Holy Name Cathedral by Cardinal Francis George. I had the privilege of presiding over the promotions and awards ceremony on Saturday at St. John Cantius, a beautiful parish just west of the city.


This gathering of the Equestrian Order was really an opportunity to engage other members whose mission it is to support the sites and shrines of the Holy Land. These sites are a reminder to us all of Jesus’ life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension. His life is our life. He is the hope for the world, understanding that God loves us. There are talks given by various authorities which challenge the members to understand the teachings of the Church and live the faith they profess.


The outgoing past lieutenant (the leader of the Order), His Excellency Sir Max Douglas Brown, KGCHS, gave a final farewell presentation. He was interviewed by the Chancellor, Sir Matthew Emmet Bunson, KCHS. At one point in the interview, he was asked about his conversion to Catholicism. Those who know Max would characterize him as cerebral, direct, and dispassionate; very much the lawyer. But when asked the question of his conversion, the emotions seemed to well up within him, and he choked up, reflecting on God’s grace which called him to this Church which he loved.


He mentioned Thomas Merton’s “The Seven Story Mountain,” and St. Teresa of Lisieux, the Little Flower (“Our Father does not inspire us to do what cannot be done.”), whose feast day we will celebrate on October 1. He related how these people, along with his wife and others he’s known, have touched his soul. He became a member of what he referred to as a “living Church,” responding to their examples. To say it was touching would be an understatement. Many told me that this moment was worth the entire weekend.


I thought to myself how many of us have stories to share about our conversions, telling of the impact that others of faith have made in our lives and especially the effects of those saints whose actions and words continue to serve and witness to Christ and His Church.


Evangelization should be a priority for all of us. Bringing others to Jesus and His Church is a responsibility we all share. Who is your patron? Who is that special saint you turn to in times of need? If you do not know, then it’s time to seek the saint that sheds light on your work, preserves and protects your relationship, or assists in achieving your aspirations, and invite that saint to intercede for you. Then tell your story of God’s presence in your life, to encourage others to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.  

       

Sincerely,

Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki

Archbishop of Milwaukee