Chicago, Day 2, Monday, March 7, 2022
March 7, 2022: A day of preparation and mercy. We woke up in time for 6:30am mass in our little chapel in the retreat center with Bishop Bob, Fr. John, and Fr. Bart. Bishop Bob talked about how the reading, Matthew 25, is one of his favorites. In this passage it speaks about serving others in tangible ways and Jesus says “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:31-46). This was the perfect gospel passage to start off our week of serving our poor neighbors on the streets of Chicago.
After a medium length breakfast with the Congregation of Holy Cross seminarians, who are also spending their spring break here, we broke into various groups to tackle tasks throughout the retreat center and food pantry to prepare for tomorrow, which is their “day when everyone comes to the mission” (Matt the Seminarian).
Kenna: My group started the morning with dishes and then moved upstairs to tackle a variety of tasks involving manual labor (i.e. moving chairs and cleaning rooms). After three hours of moving chairs, I got to spend an hour in adoration in the beautiful little chapel downstairs in the retreat center.
Ray: My group spent the morning preparing the food pantry for tomorrow, stacking beans, macaroni, and soaps, and finding a way to fit all the milk and yogurt into the giant fridge. I spent the morning doing this with the seminarians from the Congregation of Holy Cross and made some small world Catholic connections. It is always good to be reminded of our big Catholic family.
For lunch we ate ribs/chicken/sausage/fries from some delicious BBQ restaurant. Sister Kate then gave us a tour of the rectory and the Church which Bishop Bob restored with the help of many people in only a year.
After a nice nap, we headed out to Our Lady of America parish for our first “Mercy Night.” When we got there, we ate dinner with the other volunteers and religious orders who were there to serve. It was such a gift to see the mix of communities coming together to serve together (another representation of our big Catholic family). After dinner, we split into groups to serve.
Kenna: I had the blessing of getting to walk in the freezing weather through the streets of Chicago inviting people to mass. I was walking with one of the parishioners who only speaks Spanish. The community we were walking through is predominately Hispanic and one of the more dangerous neighborhoods in the city. It was very humbling to walk through this neighborhood and encounter people who gradually became more open to our invite to come to adoration/confession in the church the longer we spoke with them.
Ray: I simply sat near the front of the church and assisted folks in lighting their votive candles to take up and pray before the monstrance. It was a challenge because 99% of them spoke Spanish, so I really had to be on my game. But I made it through successfully with no fires. It was amazing how many people were there to pray together.
To wrap it all up, we made it back to the convent and shared with one another about our days, growing as friends, and signed off, ready for bed and a new day of hard work.
-Kenna & Ray