Fr. Chris's Letters

to the SPA Family

the image of Christ in each one of us

November 22, 2020

Dear SPA Family,
This weekend’s Solemnity ends the liturgical year. The Gospel presents us with Christ, to whom will belong the last sentence in the history of each of us. And with this last sentence, that is, the judgment on us, Christ will open the last, endless chapter of our existence. Our King uses an extremely simple criterion in his judgment. This criterion is the love shown to another person. Love that is realized in help, kindness, good word, good deed. Before God puts us on the right or on the left, He will ask us a simple question: have you learned to love other people on earth? Have you made other people on earth a hell or a heaven?
Jesus Christ, King and Judge, will take into account everything we have done or have not done to our neighbors and count it as an act done for Himself. So we will be judged on good and bad deeds. As human beings, we are created to do good so that we may leave this world with our heads held high, with the awareness of a life well lived and with the awareness of the good we have done to other people. Since our King is the source of good and love, then we, as His people, should strive for good and love.
A certain Persian king summoned various sages and asked them: What is the greatest degree of human poverty? Various answers were given: old age, disease, poverty. And one of the wise men said: The greatest poverty can happen to a man when, standing at the end of his life, he cannot remember any good deed.
Showing mercy to people is showing mercy to Christ himself. That is why, in Sunday's Gospel, Christ encourages us to do good here on earth, because it will be our ticket, our pass to heaven.
Maybe today Christ wants to say: “I am so close, behind your wall, I am in need, and you pass me by indifferently. I live right next to you, and you don't notice me, you pass me on the street every day with contempt and disrespect. Whatever you did to one of the little ones, you did to me”.
There is a movie, the action of one of the scenes takes place in Hyde Park in London, where everyone can stand on a platform and say whatever he likes, as long as not to offend the queen. A man stood up, a wandering preacher, and began to teach: At the last supper, Jesus took and broke the bread and gave it to Peter first. And someone in the crowd said: ‘not to Peter first, but to John’. This preacher paid no attention to it. He continued his teaching, but after a while he asked: ‘Who said that Jesus gave the bread first to John and not to Peter?’ The man was already gone. The preacher jumped down from the dais, runs after him, caught up with him, put his hand on his shoulder, stopped him and says: ‘You, how do you know that the Lord Jesus gave bread first to John and not to Peter? ‘ He says: ‘Because I was there’. And he takes his hand off his shoulder, and the preacher sees a nail mark on the man’s palm. Christ is in Hyde Park. Christ is in Muszynka (my hometown), Christ is in Chicago, Waukegan, Grayslake, Gurnee, at the corner of Gages Lake Rd. and Hunt Club ...
Christ also walks among us today, especially now in this very unique year with its challenges. Not in royal robes, not in a crown on his head, not in a shining cloak. He looks into our apartments and houses. Interestingly, we are still looking for this Lord Jesus, as pretty as in the picture with a long white robe, beautiful hair, and a crown on His head... I believe that Jesus our Kings is visible to us through the presence of others in our lives and ours in theirs. But His presence in others often is camouflage by words and actions made in human weakness.
Each of us has layers of goodness, let's use them, let's not postpone them. Let us also try to see in each person the image of Christ. Because only then can we be pleasantly surprised by the words of Christ. “Come, blessed ones of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you. For whatever you did for one of the least of these my brothers, you did for me“.
Have a blessed week!
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

Financial Report

November 8, 2020

Dear SPA Family, The past year was a year of transition and challenges. As your one-year-old pastor, I
thank you for the warm reception that you have given me since the first day of my arrival. I have
experienced firsthand the welcoming spirit that our community cherishes so deeply. I am also very
appreciative of all your support as I strive to serve you in your needs. I present to you the annual parish
financial report for the fiscal year; this in accord with Archdiocesan Policy. You, the parishioners of
St. Paul, demonstrate a consistent commitment to God and your parish through your gifts of prayer,
service and treasure. THANK YOU and GOD BLESS YOU. -Fr. Chris Ciastoń

To view our Annual Financial Report compared to 2019, please click on Media then Bulletin for November 8th, 2020 .

St. Paul the Apostle Annual Financial Statement Comparison - Year Ended - June 30, 2020
Ordinary Operating Income Sunday, Holy Day and Other Collections $1,019,140
Christmas Collection 73,303
Easter Collection 20,778
Fees (primarily religious education) 124,697
Fundraising 1,127
Interest Income 10,867
Miscellaneous Income 48,998
Total Ordinary Operating Income 1,298,910

Ordinary Operating Expenses Salaries and Payroll Taxes 603,619
Health Insurance and Benefits 81,150
Books and Supplies 25,096
Utilities 65,172
Maintenance and Building Repair 100,814
Archdiocesan Assessments 123,840
Archdiocesan Property/Casualty Insurance 42,347
Miscellaneous Expenses 211,259
Total Ordinary Operating Expenses 1,253,297
NET ORDINARY INCOME (LOSS) $45,613

Extraordinary Operating Income
Sharing Collections for Other Parishes $123,461
Archdiocesan Required Collections 39,177
Annual Appeal Rebate 120,235
Capital Campaign Collections 12,747
Total Extraordinary Income $295,620

Extraordinary Operating Expense
Sharing Collections Paid to Other Parishes $123,461
Archdiocesan Collections Paid 39,177
To Teach Who Christ Is payment 120,400
Capital Improvements (Note 1) 1,923
Total Extraordinary Expense 284,961
NET EXTRAORDINARY INCOME $10,659
TOTAL NET INCOME (LOSS) $56,272

General Note: Ordinary Miscellaneous Income includes stole fees, mass stipends and miscellaneous donations. Ordinary Miscellaneous Expenses includes, but is not limited to, transportation, food and meals, altar and liturgical supplies, furnishings and equipment and other administrative costs.
Note 1: Capital improvement expenditures included the following: 2020 HVAC repair $ 0, Security expenditures 1,923. Total $1,923
If you have questions or comments regarding the financial reports, please email us at business@saintpaultheapostle.church

Have a blessed weekend, Fr. Chris Ciastoń

Eagle Scout Award

November 1st, 2020

Dear SPA Family,
I would like to congratulate Matthew D'Souza for achieving the Eagle Scout Award which represents many years of dedicated effort. The Eagle Scout Court of Honor is a very personal event in both the life of the Eagle Scout and the lives of his family, friends, and even church community. The Eagle Scout is the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America program and it is awarded to Scouts who achieve excellence in service and leadership. Matthew, with some friendly and helping hands, presented to SPA a gift of a closet for the altar servers’ albs. You can find it by the South-East exit. I’m very grateful for his work and dedication to our parish. Matt is a very faithful, kind young man. He has shown we’re never too young or too old to make a difference.

Thanks to Matthew, our parish has a lasting legacy created by one of our own young people. Great job Matt!!! Please read what Matt shared with all of us.

Blessings, Fr. Chris Ciastoń

My name is Matthew D'Souza and my family and I have been parishioners of St. Paul the Apostle Parish for the last 10 years. I am actively involved in Boy Scouts (Troop 96 in Grayslake) and earned my Eagle Scout rank in September 2020. Part of my rank advancement was to work on an Eagle project that gives back to the community. I reached out to Father Chris for some ideas, and we agreed that a closet for altar servers’ albs would be a good service project.

I believe the altar servers’ albs are a very important part of the Mass celebration and should be stored in an enclosed closet. Prior to my project, the albs were being hung on a coat rack at the side of the church and were exposed to the elements such as sunlight and dust.

I started fundraising for this project back in February by selling “The World's Finest Chocolates” and reaching out to local businesses to help with supplies. Home Depot was very generous by providing some of the wood and hardware I needed for my project. However, COVID came along in March and put all my plans to a screeching halt. Due to the quarantine, I had to put my project on hold and was not sure if I would get it done per my timeline. However, once some of the restrictions were lifted, I was able to get back on track and was able to schedule a couple of build dates. I had a few fellow scouts and a couple of adult volunteers help with the build-in my garage. In turn, I provided pizza and soda for all the troop members that attended these events. While doing the build, we all had to wear masks and adhere to the social distancing guidelines recommended by the State laws.

The builds went off well and I am so happy that everything came together and the project was a success, A special thank you to everyone who helped me, especially Mr. Todd Nitto who guided us thru all the carpentry aspects of the build as well as helped me transport materials to my house, and the finished vestment closet to Church. I feel proud that I was able to accomplish this project and provide an alb closet for my church. It was truly my pleasure to build this closet and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it all come together with help from my peers and troop leaders who were also instrumental in the build. I hope that this closet will continue to provide storage space for the altar servers’ albs for a long period of time.
Thank you, Matthew DSouza

encouragement in Jesus

October 25, 2020

Dear SPA Family,
This time of pandemic has turned my schedule upside down. However, in the middle of this so-called ‘almost a new normal’ I have found some time to read a bit more of the Bible. I stated to read the epistles (letters). I just finished reading St. Peter’s first letter. St. Peter was in a great deal of distress and pressure as he wrote it. The church was experiencing a great deal of suffering and persecution during that time. Peter writes his first epistle to encourage the church during his and church’s trials. How fitting into our pandemic times.
He is saying that even though poverty, persecution, and uncertainty there is a reality that extends beyond the current circumstance which is the salvation of people’s souls. Peter was actually very practical and gave them instructions on how to live the authentic Christian life even while in exile. Giving them practical insights on things such as marriage, children, church life, and spirit to build up the church in order to continue to make a difference for the gospel.
The 1st Letter of St. Peter is particularly helpful for us especially during this season of great trouble and uncertain times. It provides us a reminder that while following Jesus is simple, it doesn’t mean that it will always be easy. In fact, we are exiles of another kingdom while living in this world. Therefore, the way that we live here on this earth should reflect the truths that we believe.
We find the greatest encouragement in Jesus which is utterly vital for all Christian believers. We need to look for that because oftentimes we put our hope and trust in things that cannot save us and may often let us down. Things like income, education, friends, family, government, or work. Sometimes we trust and hope in man-made things rather than God-created things. St. Peter reminds us that there is a world far greater than this one. That’s why he is encouraging us passionately to follow Jesus even during difficult times. Jesus never promised us that our life in this world would be easy, but he did say so many times that we would not go through it alone. In this world, in everyday and spiritual life, we may, and perhaps we will at times, endure and encounter immense pressure, but Jesus and St. Peter want us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus’ eternal promises rather than be impulsive by our temporal aches.
Interestingly, St. Peter is very practical in his writings, and not as theological as Sts. John or Paul in their Letters. He gives us directions on how we should continue to live even in the midst of trial and pressure. In Essence, work hard, love your spouse, raise your kids, and be devoted to the church as this is a way in which our testimony about Jesus bears witness to the world.
I encourage you to read St. Peter’s Letters if you have some time to spare. I’ve discovered that especially the 1st Letter of St. Peter is a beautiful writing about hope, grace, glory, and life. When things feel overwhelming it is of great reassurance to know that God has been at work through people experiencing the same pressures of life that are familiar to all people and he remains faithful even unto this day.
GOD IS ALWAYS THERE FOR HIS FAITHFUL!
Have a blessed week.
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

Clergy Appreciation Month

October 18, 2020

Dear SPA Family,
Just this past Tuesday you received an email from the SPA’s staff members stating that October has long been recognized as Clergy Appreciation Month. Frankly, every October I’m reminded of it and usually I don’t remember about it :-) The call to honor our church leaders’ contributions can be traced back to St. Paul. In establishing the first Christian churches, St. Paul advised the congregation to give “double honor” to the elders of the church who managed the affairs of the church well, “especially those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17).

St. Paul further urged Christian communities to acknowledge those “who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you,” holding these spiritual leaders “in the highest regard in love because of their work” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). I think that here we also need to acknowledge our parish staff members and parish leaders who do such an amazing job here at our beautiful parish.
As of mid-2018, there are approximately 51,000 people in the United States who are officially employed as clergy (bishops, priests, and deacons). When we consider all that religious leaders do, it becomes clear how important it is to celebrate and uplift our hardworking clergy. Sometimes, people ask me what priests do…? Most of you perhaps see me or Fr. Joe or deacons on Sunday in the church or on the screens of your TVs when you join us digitally while we all pray. So here are some of the things we clergy do.
On a daily basis, we clergy members prepare weekly messages and homilies, celebrate sacraments, manage the maintenance and financial obligations of our churches, and, most importantly, nurture the spiritual well-being of our congregants.
Aside from these daily duties, we clergy members participate in the highs and lows of the lives of our churchgoers and other members of the community. We lead mourners during funerals, pray over the sick, minister to the homebound and abandoned, catechize our young ones, and strengthen the faith of the others. Moreover, we bear the emotional pressure heaped upon us by dissatisfied congregants, and also absorb the sometimes hostile criticism of an increasingly anti-religious society. This weekend we will have a chance to help prayerfully and financially those who work as missionaries as we celebrate World Mission Sunday this weekend.
We, clergy, also oversee our most joyous occasions. We play a vital role in marriages, baptisms, Holy First Communions, Confirmations and requests for special blessings. We also uphold the institution of marriage by counseling struggling couples to hold fast to their marital vows and guide the Lord’s flock by giving clarity to those with a fractured emotions and sense of faith.
It’s important to note that some clergy members often risk their physical well-being for the sake of doing God’s Work. Clergy serve as missionaries in tough areas worldwide, care for people with contagious diseases, and literally stand at the front-lines of social justice movements.

I would love to take time to appreciate, encourage and acknowledge personally the Carmelites who used to minister here, Fr. Joe, Deacons Mike, Ivan, Bob, Andy, Rod, Brent, and their spouses and our staff members and parish leaders.
Jesus said, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant...” (Matthew 25:23)
Have a Blessed week :-)
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

God has the ability to extract good even from negative situations

October 11, 2020

Dear SPA Family,
I believe that everything that happens in life is foreseen by God who wants good for people. Even though, sometimes the freedom of creatures leads to negative consequences. However, God has the ability to extract good even from negative situations. This is one of the most important lessons that the coronavirus crisis is giving us.
I trust in the positive effects that the pandemic may bring to the world. There are values that are more visible now than before, namely, stronger family relationships, solidarity, equality of human life, care for the environment. The world will come out better out of this crisis if we are able to overcome the divisions of prejudice and cultural diversity. If we learn to see everyone as brothers and sisters who belong to one family of God's children.
My confidence that this can happen results from my deep trust in people, because there is always a spark of good in people and you can count on it. People respond positively to various challenges because goodness is written in their hearts. This inner conviction that God is Love and that love for all creatures inspires hope. In fact, you just need to look around to see examples of solidarity, for instance, efforts of doctors and nurses who try to instill confidence and smile or expressing pain for people who could not be saved. Many people, in all sorts of professions, were able to put themselves to assist and support others. And we’ve tried to help others with our treasures and time for those who go through financial or health difficulties. I’d like to mention your financial efforts to help women through the Baby Bottle Campaign and those with intellectual disabilities through Tootsie Roll Campaign.
Watching news, I can see examples of solidarity in the help for our town and nation and also countries who struggle intensely because of this virus and natural or humanmade disasters. Those efforts are made to do everything so that individual communities or nations not only think about protecting their goods, but about integrating their own economic vision with that of others. One of the greatest examples of that happened right after the explosion in Beirut.
These testimonies do not hide though the challenges posed by this COVID crisis. There is also fear and anxiety. However, I think we don't have to deny it, but accept it. I'd say that we need to learn to live with fear without letting it hold us back. Only love removes fear so that there is no fear where there is perfect love. So, the greater the love, the less the fear, because love helps us to act with love, hope, trust, and solidarity.
Have a blessed week.
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

Is the coronavirus a punishment from God?

October 4, 2020

Dear SPA Family,
The pandemic is bringing the world to its knees. Is it God's punishment? It’s the age-old question about the evil scandal, to which no superficial answer can be given. Only God can give a proper answer. Everything else is assumption. In fact, God has been asked about it several times before. Like when He “saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked Him: " Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus replied: "Neither has he sinned nor his parents, but [it was so] that the works of God might be revealed in him" (Jn 9: 1-3).
Jesus himself was judged: was not the crucifixion the greatest curse of God (see: Gal 3:13)? The high priests, the leaders of the people and the common passersby mocked Him and insulted Him: "Get down from the cross...". They did not have the heart to understand that Isaiah's prophecy was being fulfilled, that a "suffering servant" would be considered "smitten of God, and afflicted!" (Is 53: 4).
What image of God have we made for ourselves? Sometimes we present Him ‘in our image and likeness.’ This is the case when we expect vengeance more than justice and we want a God who punishes those who do evil, especially if they are others. Our God is different, more like the father in the parable, who does not throw a thunderbolt from heaven on a dissolute son who has left with his father’s fortune, but he waits for him with longing and welcomes him with open arms. Our God does not cut down a fig tree that bears no fruit, but patiently cultivates it "for a year." How long is the year of the Lord? Perhaps until His return. Only then He will separate the wheat from the weeds. First, it’s the time of His mercy.
Evil exists. We experience various tragedies. But does God want them? Many times, we (people) ourselves are the cause of them. If we invested in research instead of arms, if we built hospitals instead of cruise ships perhaps, we would have a better world. God has entrusted the world to us, it is up to us to manage it. In any case, God does not allow tragedy as punishment. "If God is for us, who is against us?" And if Jesus died for us, who can separate us from Christ's love? Maybe the coronavirus? "But in all of this we are fully victorious because of the One who loved us." Nothing "can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8: 31-38).
In the face of the events of Jesus’ day - the bloodstained persecutions by the Roman soldiers who committed the crimes in the temple and the collapse of the tower at Siloam, leaving eighteen people dead - Jesus wasted no time in debating: is this a punishment from God or not? Rather, He invites us to draw from these facts a warning that applies to all, because we all need conversion: "If you do not repent, you will all perish in the same way" (Lk 13: 5). If everything returns to the pre-pandemic state after the pandemic is over, I think, it will be a real punishment. The deaths of so many people and the tragedies experienced will be wasted. If we convert, if we learn to change the direction of production and research, distribute goods, build relationships between us... then the pandemic will serve some purpose and we can say with the Apostle Paul: "We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom 8:28).
Have a blessed week.
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

we are in this together and we will get through this

September 27, 2020

Dear Spa Family,
Our nations have recovered from war, terrorism, natural and manmade disasters, but the threat of COVID-19 brings anxiety and existential fear that we have not experienced since the 1918 pandemic. However, we are in this together and we will get through this.
Everyone is finding their own way to cope with this pandemic and the loss normalcy. Among many coping ideas, we also need to embrace a spiritual or religious practice.
For those who regularly attend the Mass, the sudden absence of it constitutes a tremendous loss and could not come at a worse time. Spirituality is unique to each person. One way to define spirituality is as a connection that gives meaning and purpose to our life. For some it means connecting with God or a higher power. For others, it means connecting with nature or helping those in need. During difficult times, spirituality is a source of strength, hope and faith.
For many of us, spirituality, faith and religion are essential elements of daily life. If you are feeling spirituality disconnected or isolated, consider these ideas for reconnection:
• attend Mass in-person or online
As you may know, we can hold 200 people per Mass at this time. Yes, it is not 1100 capacity we could have in the church before March, but we are open now and with the registration, disinfection, and social distancing our liturgies are as beautiful as they were before the pandemic. We also live-stream the 5pm Saturday Mass which you can also watch any time at our website.
• connect with a small group online
Join Canaan Wine 10 series which will give you an opportunity to encounter God, grow in faith, and be encouraged in community through a series of short films on culture, heroes, villains, virtue, vice, and adventure into the deep heart of God. We will meet virtually in October on Mondays (1pm) and Tuesdays 6:30pm). You will need a device with a camera and/or microphone to participate via Zoom.
• pray or meditate
If you have established a daily prayer or meditation, now is the time to stick to it. A daily ritual can look different for everyone. Prayer usually involves intentional communication with God to request support, express gratitude or simply connect. Both prayer and meditation are something you can do anytime and anywhere.
• connect with nature
For many, connecting with nature is a deeply satisfying and spiritual experience. While staying home and practicing social distance is key to reducing the spread of COVID-19, you are permitted to go outside for fresh air and exercise. If you live close to a quiet spot in nature, visit that place for some personal time to connect and recharge. My personal favorite is Lake Carina and Rollins Savanna.
• find a reason to be grateful
During these difficult times, it’s easy to get consumed by everything that’s going wrong, while taking for granted the many things that are still going right. Despite the challenging circumstances you may face, it can quickly put things in perspective to consider that things could always be worse. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, try to identify three small (or big) things that you can be grateful for today.
Have a blessed week
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

5 COVID spiritual lessons

September 20, 2020

Dear SPA Family,
I have spent a lot of time talking to you, my family and friends about how this outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has been a very difficult time for all of us, and in every challenge, there are deeper spiritual lessons that we can learn from this COVID time. Today, I’d like to share some of lessons I’ve learned while I’ve talked about them with you.

1. The Value of Authentic Relationships. The common phrase that is circulating is “social distancing,” which describes the measures taken to restrict when and where people can gather to slow the spread of the infectious disease. Ironically, with the onset of social media and the smartphone, most people have been “socially distancing” themselves for the past several years. Our world was increasingly a place of distraction and superficial relationships, longing for a deep sense of belonging and communion with one another. In this unprecedented time, we have the opportunity to reflect on how much we miss encountering others face-to-face without fear or danger.

2. Hunger for the Eucharist. No Mass means no access to the Eucharist. I’m so happy that we were able to reopen our church again after two and a half months of closed doors. The faithful are now able to worship God as a community of faith and to receive the Eucharist. Yes, it still comes with some limits, but I think it’s better than closed church. Let us take these feelings of sorrow to God in prayer and share with the Lord our desire to receive the Eucharist. Let us allow our hunger for the Eucharist to deepen our faith. Let our prayer permit our love to increase for such a great gift as we beg the Lord to give us hearts that hunger for God alone.

3. Surrender to God and the Circumstances. A few months ago, our greatest dilemma may have been where we were going to travel for spring or summer vacation. Many of our short-term plans are no longer feasible and each passing day raises more questions than answers. Many people have become accustomed to operating in an independent fashion, having strong control over nearly all of the circumstances in their life. Life has changed for now, and it is understandable that our lack of control may be difficult to accept. Let’s take our doubt, fear, frustration, anxiety, confusion, anger, and surrender it to God. Surrendering means that we resign the situation and our feelings to the Lord, trusting in faith that God can bring good about from our current situation.

4. Detachment. More time at home might encourage us to spend our time indulging in news and social media (which only heightens our anxiety) or pleasure-seeking entertainment (which only temporarily numbs our pain). We have far more devices to pacify us and distract us during this time than any other period in history. Yet, there is great value in detaching from such means, or at least learning moderation, in order to spend time deepening one’s relationship with God. When we are freed from distractions, we can begin to experience interior silence. Silence is the environment that allows us to listen to God’s voice and to those around us.

5. Greater Respect and Regard for All Human Life. By taking numerous precautions and challenging measures, people in the world seem to be working together to preserve and safeguard life. Life itself is a good – whether we are talking about the child in the womb, the poor and needy, or the elderly. Thankfully, we have started discussing how we can protect each other and especially the elderly who appear to be more vulnerable to this virus. This global experience has the opportunity to help us put aside differences and unite us in a greater goal of preserving human life. Life is very frail and is an incredibly precious gift. God is the giver of every life, and we invite the Lord to help us to learn these spiritual lessons during this difficult time.
Have a blessed week.
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

growing in faith

September

Dear SPA Family,
We are one community of faith, the one Body of Christ. Whether we are parents with children in public or Catholic school, married, single, empty nesters, retired, or working, we all are called to be active participants in the Sunday Mass, lifelong learners in the Catholic faith, and people who welcome Christ into our hearts and homes. We understand that families and households are unique and have diverse needs – you are invited to participate in the ways that help each member of your household grow in faith, individually and together.
I encourage you to participate in the sacramental life of the Church, which is a channel of grace for your family. Jesus lives in us, most especially through the sacrament of the Mass, through listening to His Word and through prayerfully partaking in the Eucharist. As parents, I particularly encourage you to also continue to grow in your own faith. St. Paul the Apostle Parish offers many prayer opportunities even now in these COVID times. Our Director of Evangelization and Youth Formation, Lisa Filip will list and present to you some of those opportunities.
Have a blessed week and know that you and your family continue to be in my prayers. Fr. Chris Ciastoń

It’s easy to fall into thinking a parish is just a structure or a building. However, I imagine over the course of these last few months it’s not the building you missed, but the community of other likeminded believers and faith filled Catholics. Jesus never meant for our parishes to be a final stop. Our parishes are meant to be an “out post” of sorts, were we gather in community to worship, pray, and be formed to go out to the world and proclaim the Good News – the person of Jesus Christ.
Before his Ascension into Heaven, Christ commissioned his disciples, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit “(Mt 28:19). In doing so, the Lord handed on to the Church his own mission of drawing the world into a living and saving relationship with himself. Indeed, the Church exists for this mission, she exists to evangelize. She is the living and efficacious sign of God’s desire for man’s salvation and her mission is to gather the world into the embrace of Christ.
Nowhere is this mission more present than in the parish. The parish is where the gift of salvation in Christ reaches out and touches the concrete lives of the men and women of every time and place. In the parish, the human race finds the doorway into the saving mystery of God’s love.
We are in a time of the saints! A time in which the culture is hostile to Christianity. A time more than ever in which the culture is crying out for the saving power of Christ’s love, mercy and freedom. This saving grace only comes in relationship with Jesus Christ. How is the Lord calling you to be His witness during this time?
We have a few opportunities coming up to help you answer that very question. See links for more information and registration.
National Day of Prayer & Fasting and the Canaan Wine 10 Series

SPA is committed becoming a being an “out post” while meeting the safe environment guidelines. The parish is open for ministries to meet once again on-site under 50 people. Additionally, we are in the process of creating virtual communities for those not yet comfortable meeting in person. Please let the SPA Staff know how we assist in helping you grow and mature as a disciple to mission in the world. The Lord is raising up Saints, will you say yes to his call. Lisa Filip.

clergy collar

September 6, 2020

Why I wear my Roman Collar
I spent some time on a retreat with the junior high students at my previous parish. I had a desire to speak about one of the symbols of faith that was important to me. So I had chosen in advance my chalice, which was a gift from my parents for my ordination. To me, the chalice is a powerful symbol of the priesthood, holding forth the cup of salvation for the sake of those whom I am to serve. But being my disorganized self, I packed it up and totally forgot to bring it to the room in which I would speak to the students. So, I picked the only other symbol I had on me…my collar.
The first thing I told them was, that I had intended on bringing another symbol, but forgot. They laughed…yes, typical Fr Chris.
In any case it is my view that often innocent mistakes are the result of the Holy Spirit directing me down the right path. So I popped the collar out and began talking about its importance to me. That it is a symbol of service, something that I am called to live.
Here are some after-thoughts. When I was ordained, one of the first things I did was to donate a great deal of my clothing to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. I no longer needed to dress like everyone else, so I saved some regular clothes for biking, skiing, and golfing :-)
So the first experience I had with the collar was: “this is what I will wear for the rest of my life.” At first it seemed grand. Later it became bland, and in that sense: good. Bland is good because it’s simple.
The second experience I had while wearing it was “…people are looking at me. Oh…I guess I better behave. I should be careful what movies I watch, what language I use, as I am a visible sign of Christ to others now, in the priesthood.”
But here is one of the most powerful reasons. While the New Evangelization needs to be made public, on Facebook, what about in the mall, on the highway, at Panera??? If we only do public acts of Christianity in the Church, guess what…only those who go to Church will be evangelized. So that it goes without saying…we need to, as a Christian people break outside of the church walls and meet people where they are…literally. This is WHY I wear a collar.
A little while ago I walked into Toys R Us for my cousin’s son’s birthday gift…awkward!!! A priest wearing a collar and buying toys is something you don’t see too often. I didn’t even realize that the fact that I looked like a priest at that time, so some of the shoppers smiled at me, others said something under their breath, others pointed their finger at me, and then when I was holding a teddy bear and a box of Legos, the cashier said to me; “Hi Father.”

Around Christmas time, my friend and I went to Panera for the morning meal, and I almost did not wear my collar to just grab a coffee and Bear Claw Pastry…conscience said otherwise though, so I obeyed. There was a man ahead of us in line. He looked at me a few times, almost perplexed. Then finally he said, “I wasn’t sure if I was going to say anything, but I am.”

I think to myself …” Oh crap…is this going to be a nice conversation or religious dispute?”
The man shared with me how he was not Catholic, but his wife was. She had died last year, but one of her wishes was to hear Christmas Caroling. The kids in an elementary catholic school sang to her before she died, and it really impressed him. Then, the priest arranged to have that same choir sing at her funeral.

He was having a difficult Christmas without his wife. When he saw the collar he was reminded of how God had been present to him through the Church and it gave him consolation. He literally said, “I didn’t know how I was going to get through this Christmas, but then I saw you.”
Have a blessed week.
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

the prayer life of a priest

August 30, 2020

How Often Does A Priest Have To Pray?
Every day! Prayer occupies a central place in priestly life and ministry. Think for a moment of praying in terms of a close friendship. Can you imagine not speaking to your best friend regularly? A priest discovers that prayer - personal time with Christ Jesus - provides the source of strength, enabling him to be about the business of Heaven on earth. The Church in her wisdom knows how vital it is for the priest to be a man of prayer. One of the promises a priest makes at his ordination is to pray daily for God's people.
Of course it is not always easy to pray! Just like an athlete does not always feel liking practicing or a student doesn't feel like studying, or an employee does not feel like working, so too there are times when a priest does not feel like praying. Like parents who must rise in the night to care for their children, so too do priests receive the necessary grace to honor their commitment to pray.
Prayer has greater power than all the bombs that man has built. Prayer is something different, the strength of which man cannot produce in any way.

You know that life is not an easy business. It is a very difficult thing to deal with the troubles of life. Even if man uses all his courage to face the problems of life, he may not be always successful because man’s power is very limited. More over, he may become tired and disappointed because of the hardships of the life.

There comes the importance of prayer. Prayer will give us the courage to face all the challenges of life. It is a way of freeing ourselves by giving all our problems and worries upon the hands of God, the almighty.

Look all the virtuous people around us, do you think that they have no problems in life? Indeed, they have, but they don’t mind it. They transfer all their problems to the God and become completely free. Those who are proud of courage and strength, bear all the problems up on their shoulders, becomes tired and disappointed at last.

So dear friends, let’s be courageous and religious. Pray to GOD, the almighty; share with him all the problems.

Have a Blessed weekend
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

Registration for FSF/Confirmation/LifeTeen is open. Please, go to our website to learn more about our Faith Formation programs. We are also looking for catechists who would like to teach and share the faith with our children and teens.
The Knights of Columbus have also modified their annual Tootsie Roll campaign this fall. You can donate to the campaign to benefit people with intellectual disabilities through the St. Paul website.
You are now able to register for weekend mass up to 4 weeks in advance. Registration will close on Fridays at 5pm for the coming weekend’s masses. To register, visit our website or call the parish office. If you need to cancel an upcoming registration, you are now able to cancel through Church Center which you can access on the app or our website.

the fruits of prayer

Dear SPA Family,
In my last bulletin article I wrote; “I have enriched the prayer in my life, once again, by watering plants, pulling weeds, cleaning, and spending time in the garden…” Today, I’d like to write about a comparison between the prayer and growing a garden. When I pray, much like when I garden, I cultivate a relationship with God that thrives with my love, attention, and prudent pruning. As I strengthen my prayer life, my words and thoughts rise from the fertile soil of my soul to the heavens, becoming fruitful and faith-full extensions of myself. And, just as rain and sun are essential elements to successful gardening, the challenges and gifts in my life also nurture me and result in even more bountiful blessings.
What do you hope to achieve from prayer? Comfort? Wisdom? Energy? Healing? Peace? Each of these, and other benefits, are possible through the quiet and focused attention you give to your prayer time. Before you begin, take a moment to collect your thoughts and design your garden of prayer around your deeply held hopes, dreams, and desires. Try to find time to prepare the Soil, your spirituality. Although it might seem almost impossible to find the time, focus, and quiet to spend a long time in prayer, in reality, all it takes is to start. Like planting seeds in the soil, you have prepared, beginning to pray, however briefly, will enable you to establish a habit of prayer that will lead deeper and deeper the more time you give it.
I remember, when my father -farmer- said to my siblings and me “sit back and hear the crops grow.” Often when I pray, I don’t think anything is happening or that anyone else is listening. Practicing prayer is partly about my words, but it is also about watching and listening. In prayer, we need to be vigilant about things that can tear us away from our inner lives and the value we place on prayer, quiet, and the desire to obtain wisdom from something other than the world outside the soul.
Prayer is strongest when it is protected through faith, determination, and consistency. Honesty in prayer, just as in any relationship, is a necessary virtue, like pruning in gardening. In order to be able to hear clearly as I pray, I need to be ready to put aside my own desires for what is, truly, the answer to our prayers. This way, I will be ready to embrace new blessings, new challenges, and a new depth of soul that I would never have imagined.
These benefits of prayer, like the food and flowers grown at our hands in the garden, are reminders that our souls play a vital role in everything we do, say, believe and are. How wonderful are the fruits of prayer! How blessed are we who work in our gardens of prayer!
Have a blessed week!
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

the beauty of God’s creation

August 9, 2020

Dear SPA Family,
Do you know the beauty of our church campus? In this COVID time, I’ve spent a lot of time walking and taking pictures of the seasonal changes our church grounds provide. I enjoy the early morning garden the most. The dew is still on the flowers, sparkling in the morning sunlight, and seeming to emit a message of hope and joy, which we need so much at this time. I am drawn to the abundant beauty of our Lord, the simplicity of form, and the complexity of His intricate creation. I so appreciate the presence, the fragrance, the solitude, the peace, the gentleness, and the place of worship. Somehow, the flowers help soften my heart so that I may be more effective in speaking to and hearing the voice of the Lord.
I hope you have some time to spare to allow the love of our Lord to flow over you through the beauty of His own creation. Through the flowers, bushes, cylinder-shaped trees, the refreshing gentleness, and inner peace consumes me. Here, I hear our Lord speaking to us as I reach out to Him. My hope is that through God’s creation, each person will richly and deeply “experience the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:19).
While on my evening walks, I’m able to meditate and reflect looking closely at the intricacy of the spectacularly elegant Rosebush, to sense the flexibility, humility, and love in the soft and delicate cosmos, to delight in the intimacy of the Forget-Me-Not as it radiates happiness, contentment, and sincerity. Each of the flowers reach out to touch me, to hold me, and to embrace me with His love.
If I didn’t have enough of the beauty of our campus, I decided to create a veggie garden behind the Parish House. I have enriched the prayer in my life, once again, by watering plants, pulling weeds, cleaning, and spending time in the garden.
So, please, come and visit our beautiful church grounds, an outdoor sanctuary of our Lord. Many of us come to church on Sunday, but I would like to invite you to come and spend some time at our campus. You can take a seat on the benches or stroll around the church and observe the soothing beauty of God’s creation.
It’s a really beautiful and delightful place. The place where you may be able to experience God’s beauty and His grace, where you will be able to notice your own pettiness which makes us “giants” in God’s eyes, where you might immerse yourself into the immensity of our Creator, and where you may experience: a place to receive God’s love, a place to seek the Lord, a place of joy and hope, a place to hear God’s voice, a place to ask God, “Why?”, a place of softened hearts, a place of humility… and a place of renewed strength, a place to express our love, a place to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, a place of gentleness and peace, a place to be touched by the Holy Spirit, a place to set ourselves right with God, and a place to meet with Jesus Christ!!!
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

Brent Bertke will be ordained to the diaconate this coming Wednesday, August 12th at 4pm. If you would like to watch the mass virtually, please visit our website for the livestream link or click it here https://usml.edu/aoc-livestream
We will celebrate mass on Saturday, August 15th at 10am for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This year, August 15th is not a Holy Day of Obligation. No registration is required to attend the mass.
Speaking of registration, starting this week, you are now able to register for weekend mass up to 4 weeks in advance. Registration will close on Fridays at 5pm for the coming weekend’s masses. To register, visit our website or call the parish office. Go to our website www.saintpaultheapostle.church

The Reopening Framework for Religious Education and Youth Ministry

August 1-2, 2020

Take a SIP with SPA! (Take a Spirit-Is-Present with St. Paul the Apostle)

Dear SPA Family,
The rise of COVID-19 has created a challenge for the Church regarding gathering for Word, Sacraments, ministry meetings, and Faith Formation for our children and teens. As you know, we have reopened for liturgical gatherings, however many of us wonder about the fall, especially about Faith Formation. In this letter, I would like to update you on what has been happening at SPA on these hazy, hot, and humid days of summer.
The word of the summer is “waiting” – waiting to hear news from the state and news from the Archdiocese, about what the school year will like amid COVID concerns. As we continue to navigate the pandemic and look toward the fall, it is imperative that we continue to find new and creative ways to minister in extraordinary times while safeguarding the health of our community.
The Archdiocese of Chicago has issued new guidelines entitled “The Reopening Framework for Religious Education and Youth Ministry.” In reviewing these guidelines, our staff has been meeting to plan and review our needs in preparation for the school year.
Following the archdiocesan guidelines, and the plans from our local schools, our Faith Formation staff and I decided NOT to have on-campus, in-person formation classes for the remainder of this 2020 calendar year. We are planning to resume on-campus catechesis for children in January of 2021. The current plan is to continue with remote learning as we regularly evaluate the situation over the coming weeks/months.
To help facilitate this remote learning, we will provide prepared packets filled with books, materials, activities, and various items, all for parents and their children to use to create the “domestic church” where children and parents can together learn more about our beautiful faith.
Our Coordinators will send the detailed plan next week to families and their children who are in the Faith Formation program. The FSF staff will help support parents and their children during this coming fall. The title which we use for our Religious Education school truly fulfills the meaning of its words: FSF – Family Spiritual Formation.
Last Sunday, 16 adults and teens received the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. It was an incredibly special celebration for them, their families, and those of us who have helped them to deepen their faith in our Lord. We are also getting ready for the 1st Communion and Confirmation liturgies. For those who cannot come to church and join the excitement of our children and teens - while they receive for the first time Holy Communion and the gifts of Holy Spirit - I invite you to watch these liturgies on our website.
We for sure live in unprecedented times. This virus has complicated so many things in our normal everyday lives causing our minds to spin, our bodies to ache, and our souls to weep . It is so difficult for me to understand that something invisible to the eye - this virus - has caused so much complexity.
Have a blessed week
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

Become a Volunteer

July 25-26, 2020

Take a SIP with SPA! (Take a Spirit-Is-Present with St. Paul the Apostle)

Dear SPA Family,
Today I would like to write why volunteering is a great way to get plugged into our church, feel like part of a community, and serve Jesus at the same time.
God has uniquely equipped every person in the Church with specific skills and gifts. As Christians, we are tasked with utilizing these gifts in our community and within our local church. Using your God-given skills as a volunteer is a fantastic way to serve the church while simultaneously lightening the load of a church’s staff during this pandemic times.
Volunteering has a spiritual benefit as well. By volunteering, an individual will often want to dive deeper into the life of the church. At the same time, they serve not only as a helping hand, but also as a witness of the Gospel message within the community.
However, while many may want to give of their time, it can be difficult to align schedules and balance other obligations. So, while the desire to volunteer may exist, people often run into roadblocks that prevent them from giving of their time.
Many people travel for work, others live far from their church, and some have families who claim their time during the week. And everyone has unique God-given gifts which can be shared with others especially during these challenging times while we have an physical-presence opportunity to worship God as a community of believers at our church. St. Paul’s staff is working hard on how approach the comprehensive reopening our Faith Formation programs this coming fall, and we will need your help too.
That's why I would like to invite you once again to consider becoming a volunteer at our beautiful church. Your time and God’s giving talents are mostly appreciated at this time. Thank you so much for that.
Have a blessed week,
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

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God in summer

July 18-19, 2020

Take a SIP with SPA (Spirit-Is-Present)

Dear SPA Family,
Summer months do not mean taking a break from God or refraining from building our spiritual lives while actively working to advance His eternal kingdom. Time spent with God, and for His glory, is time well spent. Time spent with loved ones can be considered as our 'sowing' seeds on good soil, as pulling weeds from the wheat, as planting a mustard seed into ground and looking at t how large it can grow, and as transforming a yeasty dough into bread (Mt. 13) to advance God's kingdom of love, joy and peace.
Since God is always with us, our summer break should include a few activities to help our spiritual grow. Here are three proposals for spiritual development:
• Explore different forms of Christian prayer methods – move from words into silence; meditate on your experiences and the gifts of God in creation; apply varied postures during prayer; use your imagination to journey with Jesus and encounters He had with the people in scripture. Visit our website for great ideas of various examples of prayer.
• Journey with a Saint – choose a Saint to be your summer prayer companion. Get to know your Saint through books, pamphlets, and internet gleanings. Develop relationship with your Saint by placing specific needs for his/her intercession. Ask for the grace to imitate the virtues of your Saint so that you not only measure your own growth in spirituality, but also obtain satisfaction in remodeling yourself according to the Spirit.
• Identify and commit to a prayer partner – for the summer, either face to face, social media telephone. Discern and choose someone from within your family, circle of friends or Church Ministry with whom you can share, invite to pray, and bare your soul. All exchanges are confidential. You can use the readings of the day or your own chosen scripture passage as a basis from which to start your personal sharing and insight.
The above three spiritual exercises provide rest and growth. Earnestly strive to put God at the center of your lives and apply these three exercises in faith. It is then like Paul, we too can say "all things work for good for those who love God" (Rom. 8:28), and bear fruits for His eternal kingdom and your parish by praying alone, with your family or you friends. Spread the seed of faith by inviting a neighbor to go for the Sunday Mass or becoming a volunteer at our parish so that the sharing of your time and talents can help others to pray within our parish community.
Have a blessed week.
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

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Thank you

July 4-5, 2020

Dear SPA Family,
In the book of Proverbs, we can read: “One who is gracious to others lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed.”
In this week’s message, I would like to express my gratitude for your generosity toward our beautiful parish, but also St. Vincent DePaul Society, Catholic Charities including St. Anastasia’s and Holy Family’s Food Pantries, and even you shared your treasure with other Parishes through the Sharing Parish initiative. Your donations have helped the continuity of our commitment to serving the community. This would have not been successful without your act of generosity in support of the church.
We always believe that through a movement of the gospel, it brings the formation of a peaceful and healthy community, social justice with love, and peace with God in our hearts. And thus, we conduct activities that enable everyone to experience and feel the teachings of God.
The money is most definitely helpful and will go to extremely good use, there's no doubt about that. But more than the monetary value, I so greatly appreciate the thought behind the gift. This pandemic is a burden, but your actions have really lightened the load. For that especially, I thank you.
This time has been difficult for all of us but knowing that SPA and our parish charities have the support of people like you certainly helps. Please know that your generosity will not be forgotten, because “…He will repay him for his good deed.“ Proverbs 19:17.
The SPA Family is very blessed to have you and your family in our humble congregation. Thank you again for your generous support and let us keep up the good work in this time of reopening our church!
Have a blessed weekend!
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

13th sunday in Ordinary Time

JUNE 27-28, 2020

Dear SPA Family,
A week ago, I shared with you the struggles my family and the home parish were going through. Thank God there are no more COVID cases in my hometown and parish. Over 1200 people were tested and every person is healthy and there is no evidence of the “invisible enemy.”
I grew up in a very touristy and beautiful part of Poland. Where the beauty of small villages and resort-towns are sewn within mountains and their ski-resorts’ slopes, forests, waterfalls, and abundance of mineral water springs. Now this region has a new motto; “the healthiest place to visit, because everybody was tested!” …humorous, but kinda true ;-)
I’m so happy for my family and friends, but especially for my mom who can enjoy again her strolls with her youngest granddaughter.

I would like to share with you some new updates related to the celebration of some of the Sacrament. Our parish staff worked extra hard this week to schedule Holy Eucharist (1st Communion) and Confirmation liturgies, taking many matters into consideration.

We decided to celebrate these liturgies as follows:
1st Communion – August 2nd (Sunday) at 1:30pm & 4pm
Confirmation – July 30th (Thursday) at 7pm and August 9th (Sunday) at 2pm & 5pm
RCIA’s liturgy will take place on July 26 at 4pm.

I understand that this is not what any of us envisioned when we began our faith formation year! However, we’ve learned in the course of the past a few months that nothing has been as it used to be. I’m extremely happy that we are able to bring your children, teens, and RCIA members into the deeper sacramental relationship with our Lord which is so needed in these troublesome times.

I would like to remind you that you can register for the weekend Masses online or by calling our office on Wednesday at 9am through Friday at 5pm.

Lastly, Let's join together in bringing our parish to our homes. How? Purchase a YARD SIGN for $20 this weekend or the coming week. We have around 20 left. You can pick it up after any Mass or at the office after during the week!

In this time of anxiety and separation, let's remind one another to keep the faith, have hope for a better future, and trust that we will be all together again soon.
Take SIPS (Steps-In-Progress) with SPA!
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

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12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 20-21, 2020

Dear SPA Family,

We for sure live in unprecedented times. This virus complicated so many things in our normal everyday lives. It seems like we have understood the plans and actions we needed to take to stop the spread of the virus. However, now they make our minds spin and cause some sickness of mind, body, and soul. It is so difficult for me to understand that something invisible to an eye, this virus, has caused all this worldwide situation. We, humans, have been trying to deal with it in the best possible ways which have helped us to stay relatively sane ;-) This virus has affected the whole world and all of us in so many unexpected and unforeseen ways.

​Let me illustrate what I mean by using an example of one of my family members. As you may know, I am from a very small country town with one road lying in the middle of it. One sunny day in April, my mom decided to go for a walk with her youngest granddaughter Marysia. After a few steps on that one village road pushing a stroller, the police came and told her, “Ma’am, you are going back home or we will write you a ticket for breaking the Shelter-In-Place regulations!” This situation frightened my mother deeply because she recalled the time, when she was enjoying a walk, pushing another stroller with me in it on the same road in my hometown. It was the time of the Martial Law (the imposition of direct military control of normal civil functions) which started in Poland just over a year after my birth. It was the scariest time my parents had to go through. My father was taken to the Polish Army (communist at that time) and my mom would be controlled numerous times a day but the Milicja (communist Police) while she was walking on that road to her workplace.

It broke my heart that my mom had to recall those tough times in her life. In this COVID-19 time, Poland took serious actions to stop this virus. It looks like it has been working and the country is on the gradual road to be back to normal. It is estimated that my homeland is 8o% into that process.

From May 4th, my mom was able to push that Marysia’s stroller on that one road in my tiny village, enjoying the beauty for the valleys, forests, and mountains surrounding that little heaven on earth.

This new normal for mom ended suddenly again this past Monday. My home parish which includes two villages; Tylicz and my Muszynka, experienced something which destroyed that new normal. At this moment, there are 5 COVID-19 cases. Sadly, they are now in a serious health condition. These persons unaware of the virus in their system attended Corpus Christi Masses in both villages. So did my family.

​The Shelter-In-Place and self-quarantine for all inhabitants in the whole parish were established; over 2000 people in both villages. The churches, schools, stores, and businesses are closed again. 500 people are being tested daily, including my family: my mom, siblings, nieces, and nephews.

I’ve heard so many stories from you and others about how your families and theirs have experienced on their own skin the difficulties this virus has brought into their lives. I’ve been compassionate, sympathetic, and ready to help if somebody needed me. Now, for me and my family, it is just too close to home.

I have hoped and prayed that my mom would never experience anything like the early 80’s or another pandemic. As you see the reality is different now.

The happenings in my hometown bring me to my new home here where you and I live, work, worship, and receive an education.

I am so proud and grateful for the SPA’s volunteers and the Pastor’s Reopening Leadership Team which has created for you amazing strategies on how to be safe in our church. We have: – marked pews and floors with the blue tape and stickers according to directives and guidelines of CDC, state, and archdiocese – we clean and disinfect our entire church building before and after services – the social distancing is observed at every aisle, pew, seat… every corner of our campus – we figured out how to schedule mister and volunteers – Pastor’s Team created tons of materials, safety procedures, instructions, and trainings – their even some employees back in the office to help you with the registration for weekend Masses and plan for the next days, weeks and months – and so many other things and endeavors have been extensively worked on.

Please remember that the Registration for the Weekend Masses begins on Wednesday at 9am and is closed on Friday at 5pm. You can register online on our website or by calling our office on those three days between 9am and 5pm. If you’re able to call only after 5pm, then I’ll try to help you :-)

The stories I hear now from my hometown and family tell me how important it is for all of us to be careful and observe what CDC, state, and church officials advise us to do. In the meantime, I am grateful for your patience and understanding, as we honor both our longing for the Eucharist and Sacramental life, and our responsibility to keep each other safe and healthy.

I received updates from the Arch related to the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist (1st Communion). From this weekend on, we can welcome up to 220 attendees/worshipers into our church (20% of church seating capacity with the social distancing). That is why these larger celebrations for our kids, teems and RCIA can be scheduled and celebrated. Please wait patiently for the dates of these sacraments while the parish staff is working intensely on the dates. I hope we will be able to announce them this coming week.

I think that I, and I assume you too, need just a little laughter now: Why did the golfer bring two pair of pants? Because he may get a hole in one :-)

May God bless you and Take SIPS (Steps-In-Progress) with SPA!
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

Corpus Christi

June 13-14, 2020

Take SIPS (Steps-In-Progress) with SPA!

Dear SPA Family,

A week ago, I told you about two positive things happening at our parish. The first positive thing was about SPA’s slow but visible reopening. We could celebrate Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals, Reconciliation for 10 people in Phase I & IA.

Now we may enjoy another positive thing; SPA has gradually reopened for the daily and Sunday Masses :-) And it’s not 10 people, but 50 people allowed at each Mass for this weekend, and 220 worshipers for each Mass starting on the weekend of June 20/21, which is 20% of our church’s seating capacity.

Since March 14, Fr. Joe, Ruth Peck, Julie Jester, Dn. Andy, a few times Dn. Mike and Fr. Brad, and I have been pre-recording our Sunday Mass. I would like to thank all who took part in those amazing times of bringing a bit of SPA to your homes. Huge thanks to the amazing skills of our Dn. Andy for recording, editing, pasting words, pictures, soundtracks into videos, downloading, uploading, and processing tens of Gigabytes of data, while learning how to do it. What an amazing, faith, and laughter filled time we had.

We are ending the virtual Masses as you know them, but we hope to live-stream our weekend Mass at 5 PM (Sat), so it will be still available to view at home at our website, as most people will not be able to be present for some time.

​This is very important: Registration for Weekend Masses is required (Daily Masses don’t have this requirement. However, we will ask for names and phone numbers of those who come for daily Masses). Registration will begin on Wednesday’s at 9am and will be closed on Friday’s at 5pm. You will need to pre-register for all weekend Masses either through our website or by calling our office between 9 to 5pm (W-F). Remember, if you are not feeling well, please stay home and take care of yourself.

​Unfortunately, due to restrictions on our seating capacity, we cannot admit anyone into the building if have not registered for a weekend Mass ahead of time. The health department wants to have a record of attendees in case everyone needs to be notified. The registrations will be wiped out after two weeks. At this time, we cannot allow Walk-ins. So, we apologize for any inconvenience.

​Fr. Joe reminded me that the next Sunday is Father’s Day. You, see in my homeland it is always on June 23 and Mother’s Day on May 26. So, we are planning to have a special Father’s Day Blessing for fathers, grandfathers, godfathers and all men of the parish present at Masses and virtually for those unable to be seated in person in the church.,

Please become a volunteer and learn more about the Reopening at our website www.saintpautheapostle.church. The more volunteers we have, the more we will be able to offer weekday and weekend Mass.

God bless you and join my prayers with yours so we won’t have to wait too long before we can get back to normal.
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

P.S. Let's join together in bringing our parish to our homes. How? Purchase a YARD SIGN for $20 on our website and we will deliver it to your home contact-free! Let us remind one another to keep the faith, have hope for a better future and trust that we will celebrate together again soon. Questions? Email Tammy Oberstar at toberstar@saintpaultheapostle.church

Holy Trinity

June 6-7, 2020

Dear SPA Family,
This letter is for sure the longest I’ve ever wrote to you but it’s one of the most important weekly messages you have received.
One of my Facebook friends made a list of things that has changed so fast this year. I found it fascinating how much this world, this nation, this village, this church has changed not even in this year but in just past few months.
I join my friend on Facebook with the same awe:


That within a few months a virus would literally shut down the entire world.
That churches would shut down (Easter Mass would only be on TV/Internet).
That funerals couldn't happen.
That so many weddings would have to be cancelled.
That Six Flags and Gurnee Mills would close their doors of entertainment.
That toilet paper, paper towels, disinfectant, flour and other common staples, toys would be hard to find!
That playing at parks would become forbidden.
That we would have to Lysol our grocery bags and wash everything we bought, then wash our hands repeatedly.
That we would have to wear masks into a bank, grocery stores, and every other public place, and unless you made a mask, they were very hard to come by!
That school would switch to e-learning.
That we would have to be isolated for a very long time from family and friends, and… all of that social distancing out of fear that someone might be a carrier.
That many, many jobs and businesses would be lost very quickly due to the quarantine.
That just when things finally start to open up into the next "phase" after what felt like a gazillion weeks, protesters would go out to the streets, and looters would destroy businesses. That stores would shut down early again because some people would get violent, and the curfew was ordered.
That internet would get flooded again with more panic and the communities would live in fear each day for brand new reasons. That the world would be even more divided and broken.

My Facebook friend didn’t want to leave on a sad note, and wrote some positive things from the quarantine:
Parents who are home-bound would spend more time with their children or spouse. They have taken bike rides, played in the yard, played board games, cooked, baked and enjoyed life together the best they could.
Religious folk would miss attending church, and people would come together to try to support each other who are struggling to make it. :)

I would like to add my list of positive things.
And the first positive thing is that SPA has been slowly reopening. At this moment we can celebrate Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals, Reconciliation, and people can come for the Private Prayer times. At this current Phase I & IA we can welcome 10 people to enter our church.
Here is an even more positive thing; SPA will reopen for the daily and Sunday Masses :-) and it will happen very soon.

Please share this information with those you may know who do not use the internet. They can call our office to register for any Mass. The registration for weekend Masses will be available on our website soon.


The staff and the Reopening Leadership Team have been working hard to prepare our worship space for this "Homecoming".
• Hymnals have all been removed from all pews.
• The padding has also been removed from pews for easier sanitization after each mass.
• Specific pews have been roped off and marked for the prescribed social distancing.
• Blue tape marks the floor to direct the flow of traffic.
• Multiple hand sanitizing stations are set-up.
• Signs are set up inside and outside church.


We have around 60 volunteers, but we need about 50 more volunteers to help move things along smoothly at masses. Please become a volunteer and learn more about the Reopening Guidelines for attendees, worshipers, RLT Team, volunteers, and presiders at our website www.saintpautheapostle.church.
The more volunteers we have, the more we will be able to offer weekday and weekend Mass.
We have been living in unprecedented times but now we want to focus on the positive things so that we will be able to flourish even more at these new times.


Good bless you and Take SIPS (Steps-In-Progress) with SPA!
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

​P.S. Let's join together in bringing our parish to our homes. How? Purchase a YARD SIGN and we will deliver it to your home contact-free! In this time of anxiety and separation, let's remind one another to keep the faith, have hope for a better future and trust that we will celebrate together again soon. Purchase a sign for $20 and we will deliver it to your home beginning June 5th.
Questions? Email Tammy Oberstar at toberstar@saintpaultheapostle.church

Pentecost

May 30-31, 2020

Dear SPA Family,

The Pastor's Reopening Leadership Team members already has done an enormous amount of work required for the reopening of our church, yes for a limited number of attendees and worshipers, however I'm extremely happy that our state and archdiocesan official have allowed parishes to open slowly and cautiously their churches. The team and I have completed the required training, we reviewed reopening guidelines, and completed tasks assigned to all parishes as part of a reopening certification process to be approved by the Archdiocese. I would like to announce to all of you that

The Pastor's Reopening Leadership Team with the archdiocesan approval decided to REOPEN our church on

MAY 30th with Reconciliation at 11am.

Private Prayer will begin on June 1st:

Mondays 5-7pm; Wednesdays 8-10am, Fridays 5-7pm.

The more volunteers we have, the more we will be able to extend the Private Prayer time. Please become a volunteer.
NOTE: For Reconciliation and Private Prayer, 10 or fewer worshipers can be present in the church at any time.
If there are more people present for these occasions, then they will need to wait patiently for their turn in the designated areas.

Funeral, Wedding & Baptism for 10 or fewer attendees/worshipers can be scheduled now.

The celebration of Public Daily and Sunday Mass is not yet allowed.

May God grant you His peace during this difficult time and may He manifest His love and presence to you in abundant ways.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Chris D. Ciastoń

Become a volunteer and learn more about the Reopening Guidelines for attendees, worshipers, PLT Team, volunteers and presiders www.saintpaultheapostle.church

In the name of our parish, Our Lady of Refuge and its 4 Missions, I wish to thank Fr.Chris, Fr. Joe and all the wonderful parishioners of St. Paul the Apostle for your support. We greatly appreciate it. I boarded the plane to go back to Texas on March 2nd and since then so much has happened to change our lives. Covid-19 has truly impacted everyone. Hopefully soon, we will be able to again have Masses with people present and not just live-streaming. Let’s pray for each other and may God bless you and your families for your generosity. Padre Pablo

Let's join together in bringing our parish to our homes. How? Purchase a YARD SIGN and we will deliver it to your home contact-free! In this time of anxiety and separation, let's remind one another to keep the faith, have hope for a better future and trust that we will celebrate together again soon. Click here or on image above to purchase a sign for $20 and we will deliver it to your home beginning June 5th.

Questions? Email Tammy Oberstar at toberstar@saintpaultheapostle.church

The Pastor's Reopening Leadership Team is planning to REOPEN our church.

May 23-24, 2020

Dear SPA Family,

The Pastor's Reopening Leadership Team members already has done an enormous amount of work required for the reopening of our church, yes for a limited number of attendees and worshipers, however I'm extremely happy that our state and archdiocesan official have allowed parishes to open slowly and cautiously their churches. The team and I have completed the required training, we reviewed reopening guidelines, and completed tasks assigned to all parishes as part of a reopening certification process to be approved by the Archdiocese. I would like to announce to all of you that

The Pastor's Reopening Leadership Team is planning to REOPEN our church on

MAY 30th with Reconciliation at 11am.

Private Prayer will begin on June 1st:

Mondays 5-7pm; Wednesdays 8-10am, Fridays 5-7pm.


The more volunteers we have, the more we will be able to extend the Private Prayer time. Please become a volunteer.
NOTE: For Reconciliation and Private Prayer, 10 or fewer worshipers can be present in the church at any time.
If there are more people present for these occasions, then they will need to wait patiently for their turn in the designated areas.

Funeral, Wedding & Baptism for 10 or fewer attendees/worshipers can be scheduled now.

The celebration of Public Daily and Sunday Mass is not yet allowed.


May God grant you His peace during this difficult time and may He manifest His love and presence to you in abundant ways.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Chris D. Ciastoń

Become a volunteer and learn more about the Reopening Guidelines for attendees, worshipers, PLT Team, volunteers and presiders go to the Main Page

REOPENING PLAN FOR SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE CHURCH AMID COVID-19

MAY 24, 2020

Dear SPA Family,

I pray that you and your loved ones are healthy. As you may have seen, Cardinal Cupich recently shared our Multi-Phased Plan for Reopening Churches in the Archdiocese of Chicago (www.archchicago.org/coronavirus/reopening): Specifically,

Phase I allows for parishes to reopen for Baptism, Reconciliation, Weddings and Funerals with a limit of 10 attendees.

Phase IA allows for parishes to reopen for private prayer and adoration with a limit of 10 attendees.

Phase II allows for reopening for weekday and weekend Masses for larger groups depending on the guidelines from the state and the capacity of the church building.

OUR ST. PAUL THE APOSTLE REOPENING PLAN

First and foremost, it is important for everyone to understand that our efforts will prioritize the safety and wellbeing of all while maintaining due respect and reverence for the sacraments and liturgical norms of our faith.

I have already assembled the Parish Reopening Leadership Team with co-captains to lead our efforts. Together, we've attended required training from the Archdiocese to ensure that our parish reopening plan conforms to the guidelines developed by the Archdiocese in collaboration with civil and healthcare authorities. We've also received a starter kit of protective and cleaning supplies, as well as guidance on purchasing/maintaining supplies ongoing.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED

We are in need of volunteers to assist with various aspects of our parish reopening plan. Importantly, leadership team members and volunteers must not be part of a “vulnerable population”. However, the Archdiocese answered this question:

Q: Can someone 65 or older or with medical condition(s) volunteer?
A: It is recommended that parishes focus on finding and recruiting
volunteers that are not older than 65 and without underlying medical
conditions; however, if individuals in those groups choose to volunteer
understand the inherent risks, they may do so.

I ask all of you to consider assisting with one of three reopening teams:

Set-up team. Sample duties include ensuring that all supplies needed for each sacramental celebration/gathering are ready for use, entrances and exits are marked and propped physically open prior to attendees’ arrival/departure, windows are opened, etc.

Greeting team. Sample duties include assisting in managing the flow of congregants as they enter the church, making sure attendees use hand sanitizer upon entering, are wearing a mask, and are reminded not to enter if ill; directing people to appropriate seating/waiting areas, etc.

Cleaning team. Sample duties include maintaining and cleaning essential and trafficked areas of the church before and after the church has been used. Masks and gloves will be provided, if you do not have your own, in addition to approved cleaning/disinfecting supplies.

The Reopening Leadership Team and I will make sure that all volunteers are properly trained. Please send a message to info@saintpaultheapostle.church to indicate your willingness and ability to volunteer.

TIMING FOR OUR REOPENING

The Pastor's Reopening Leadership Team members have already done an enormous amount of work required for the reopening of our church, yes for a limited number of attendees and worshipers, however, I'm extremely happy that our state and archdiocesan official have allowed parishes to open slowly and cautiously their churches. The team and I have completed the required training, we reviewed reopening guidelines, and completed tasks assigned to all parishes as part of a reopening certification process to be approved by the Archdiocese. I would like to announce to all of you that SPA is allowed to reopen for all 3 Phases.

The guidelines and measures required to reopen are designed to protect our wellbeing and that of our broader community. As Cardinal Cupich has noted, from the first pages of Scripture we learn that we indeed are “our brother’s keeper.” Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed, “that they all may be one” (Jn 17:21) and commanded us “love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (Jn 13:34). Our collective patience, willingness to help, and the care we take to reopen is a demonstration of our unity and love for one another.

May God grant you His peace during this difficult time and may He manifest His love and presence to you in abundant ways.
Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr. Chris D. Ciastoń

Plan for a multi-phased reopening of our church

MAY 16-17, 2020

Dear SPA family,

There is no doubt that we live in unprecedented times. All of us want to move forward and get back together as soon as possible, that’s for sure. As parish leadership, we feel that the recent Gospel passage about the Good Shepherd provides a powerful context for the caution and care our local Shepherds, our local bishops, are taking. They want to make sure their local flocks are kept safe in pastures that will give life and sustain them and not hurt them. Our own Archdiocesan Task Force has been working earnestly, in cooperation with state and local government and public health officials, to complete a comprehensive approach to resume the sacramental life of our Church as soon and as safely as possible. Our most recent communication explains where we are at. Here are the main points of the update we received over the weekend:

This past week, the Presbyterial Council and deans provided Cardinal Cupich with valuable input for our phased plan to reopen our churches. The Cardinal also convened a meeting of the bishops of the Chicago Province. Those meetings and consultations with public officials have resulted in the development of a phased approach to reopening. It will incorporate incremental steps, initially focusing on liturgical celebrations that lend themselves to smaller gatherings, before progressing to larger celebrations, such as Mass. The guidelines will include a procedure for pastor and parish leader certification including webinar trainings that will explain the necessary steps for the proper management and maintenance of the campus, the administration of the sacraments, communication with parishioners, etc. The Bishops of Illinois have agreed that any liturgical recovery plan must be undergirded by important guiding principles:

The first is that we call our people in this moment to exercise faithful citizenship. Every Catholic must take responsibility for public safety. As the first pages of scripture have taught: we are “our brother’s keeper.”

Second, we cannot take for granted that our people will flock to churches simply because we reopen them. People are afraid. We must gain their trust by ensuring the measures we adopt for their safety are well conceived, reasonable, and consistent with the advice of public health officials.

Third, we must remain in respectful dialogue with government officials charged with safeguarding public health and be mindful of their guidance for promoting the public good. While our plan has a timeline, we also acknowledge that each parish will be ready to move through the plan’s phases at differing places. To do that each must have in place a dedicated reopening team, completely trained, and certified for readiness. Again, we will receive more information soon about the multi-phased approach for reopening, and the training and certification process.

It is understandable that some may think we are moving too cautiously, while others may voice a desire to take an even slower approach. In all circumstances, even as we yearn for the sacraments, we must allow prayer and prudence to guide our decisions and timing. Even more important, we must do this together… building trust among ourselves that our efforts have safety as our top priority. We must communicate that this difficult time presents an opportunity for the Catholic community in Illinois to make a significant contribution to the good of society by demonstrating how people of faith, acting out of a reverence for life, can respond to a crisis as good citizens in cooperation with public health and government officials.

The bishops of the Chicago Province (all dioceses in Illinois) finalized a Plan for a multi-phased reopening of our churches and for resuming public participation in the sacramental life of the Church. State and local authorities and public health officials have approved this plan. An Executive Summary of the Plan and the Plan itself with Cardinal letter to the faithful announcing it are available on https://www.archchicago.org/coronavirus/reopening.

​So, Fr. Joe, parish staff and I are studying and working on this plan to prepare us for this reopening of our church which, we know, will take extensive work in coordinating, educating, and preparing a team to pull off a seamless, albeit gradual, resuming of our gatherings of faith.

Fr. Chris Ciastoń & Fr. Joe Curtis

CARES Act and PPP loan

MAY 9-10, 2020

Dear St. Paul the Apostle Parish Family,

It is encouraging to see so many people engaged in the life of our parish, supporting one another during this difficult time. We have provided a number of online resources to keep our parish family united as we bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to our community.

The Finance Council and I want to ensure you have a clear understanding of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on parish operating income and expenses. We project a $52,000 shortfall in this year’s budget due in large part to the decreased weekly offertory. The Sunday offertory since March 15 including Easter is 30% below the amount for the same period last year.

While we have been able to lower some expenses, the wages and benefits of our employees continue to represent the largest share of our operating costs. Our parish staff is working hard to maintain the life of our parish and address the needs of our more than 7,500 parishioners.

We will continue to use our parish savings to meet our expenses; however, even with that, there is a long-term impact of the decreased offertory on operating income. With the assistance of the Archdiocese of Chicago, our parish applied for and received a CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program loan. In accordance with the provisions of the Act, we must only use these funds to pay payroll and utility expenses over the next two months. Any unused funds will be returned at the end of the two-month loan period. In addition, we are hopeful that much of the CARES Act loan will be forgiven.

The Finance Council and I understand that this is a time of economic uncertainty and are truly grateful to those who have been able to continue supporting our parish. We remain one family of faith and everyone’s contributions of time, talent, and treasure are vital to the life of our parish.

May God bless you, your loved ones, and our entire St. Paul the Apostle Parish family.

Happy Mother's Day.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr. Chris Ciastoń, Pastor

Finance Council Members: Bob Sekany, Dave Grum, Charlotte Nielsen, Doug Nieman, Joe Perry, Claress Pettengill, Bud Reed

Good Shepherd Sunday

MAY 2-3, 2020

Take a SIP with SPA! (Take a Shelter-In-Place with Saint Paul the Apostle!)

Dear SPA Family,
Someone who finds himself in an unknown place needs a guide. Otherwise, he will get lost. A person who lost a map, compass or phone power was drained, and has no one to ask for the way is helpless. When there is a guide, then we follow in his footsteps and we are sure that nothing bad will happen to us. Things are similar with the way of life. Only sometimes this road is much more dangerous and the consequences of getting lost are worse.

Some of us, every so often, like to arrange ourselves in a prosperous and comfortable life, listening to the advice of those who applaud us, say that everything is OK, and who do not tell us a harsh word. We listen to those who promise more, demand less, because it is more convenient and easier for us. We are looking for a guide that leads along an easier and enjoyable way. However, one should ask what will be the purpose and end of this journey?

This Good Shepherd Sunday shows a completely different guide, a guide who invites us to listen to His voice.
We can point at many resourceful and talented shepherds around us. Many of them lead us in various areas of life which we cannot refuse. But only few of them will say they are good. The Good Shepherd defends His sheep, He cares for them, and He is even ready to give His life for them. Our Good Shepherd cares for us every day and gave His life for us.

How do we listen to His voice? Do we really know our Master and follow Him? “My sheep listen to my voice and I know them. They follow me and I give them eternal life” (Jn 10: 27-28). To listen and follow the voice of Christ is a guarantee of taking the right path of life. The Word of the Good Shepherd gives us strength to do what is good. It is a source of life for us and it is a constant food for our faith. To follow Jesus means to live according to completely different principles and rules that the world proposes to us.

Our Good Shepherd – Good Guide encourages us to be attentive not only to His word but also to His voice. We need to be able to distinguish him from many other voices we hear everywhere. Jesus teaches us how to distinguish His voice from other voices today. Yes, they have wonderful ideas and tips, they give advice on healing every situation. But only the Lord can suggest a proper solution to our problems.

As we hear the voice of our Good Shepherd and as we follow our Good Guide, let us be strong, be courageous and have hope. We are the SPA Family and we are in this together!
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

Social Media

APRIL 25-26, 2020

Take a SIP with SPA! (Take a Shelter-In-Place with Saint Paul the Apostle!)

Dear SPA Family,
During this SIP ordinance, I assume that we all spent a lot of our time reading emails, texts, and books. I am quite sure we watch many more movies, news and reality shows than we used to. And I love the fact that we can spend more time with our loved ones and friends at our homes and/or via technology. I appreciate this technology immensely because without it I wouldn’t be able to What’s Up with my family, Facebook with my friends and YouTube Mass with my SPA family.
This past week I received a text message and it was so interesting that I thought I would share it with you today. I don't know where it originated or who wrote it, but it reveals a lot of biblical truths in its contents and brings a new meaning to what’s going on right now on this beautiful blue globe.

The Latin root of the word quarantine is forty. So, what does the Bible say about 40? The flood lasted 40 days. 40 years Moses fled Egypt. 40 days Moses stayed on Mount Sinai to receive the Commandments. Exodus lasted 40 years. Jesus fasted for 40 days. Lent is 40 days. 40 weeks gestation for a normal pregnancy.
It is known in the theology and the exegesis of the Holy Scriptures that the number 40 represents some type of change, and it is the time of preparing a person, or people, to make a fundamental change. Whenever the number 40 appears in the Bible, there is a change.

Please know that during this quarantine rivers are cleaning up, vegetation is growing, the air is becoming cleaner because of less pollution, there is less crime, healing is happening, and most importantly, people are turning to Christ. The Earth is at rest for the first time in many years and hearts are truly transforming.

So, during this time, enjoy it with your loved ones and return to the family altar together. And while taking SIP with SPA, I invite you to join Fr. Joe spiritually at SPA’s altar. Watch this weekend Mass on our website and pray at Our Virtual Church there.
Family prayer is a great blessing. Through prayer, we will see the changes God can work in us and in our homes. Christ promises us “…that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” Romans 8:28!

May these days of quarantine bring spiritual liberation to our souls, our nation, and our world.
The best is yet to come. So, trust in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
We are the SPA Family and we are in this together!

Fr. Chris Ciastoń

Divine Mercy Sunday

APRIL 18-19, 2020

Take a SIP with SPA! (Take a Shelter-In-Place with Saint Paul the Apostle!)

Dear SPA Family,
A friend of mine sent me this text on Easter Sunday while I was watching the televised Easter Sunday Mass celebrated by Cardinal Cupich. Frankly, I was unhappy the whole Holy day because I was unable to celebrate that joyous day with you and my family. I was also nostalgic because Easter dated my father’s 12th year of living in the heavenly home. So, you can imagine I was not a happy camper on the holiest and happiest day of the year. Hence, this text kept me relatively sane the whole day of Easter :-) I didn’t want to change it so here it is in its entirety:
“The very first Easter was not in a crowded worship space with singing and praising. On the very first Easter the disciples were locked in their house. It was dangerous for them to come out. They were afraid. They wanted to believe the good news they had heard from the women, that Jesus was risen. But it seemed too good to be true. They were living in a time of such despair and such fear. If they left their homes their lives and the lives of their loved ones might be at risk. Could a miracle really have happened? Could life really had won out over death? Could this time of terror and fear really be coming to an end?
Alone in their homes they dared to believe that hope was possible, that the long night was over, and morning had broken, that God’s love was the most powerful of all, even though it didn’t seem quite real yet. Eventually, they were able to leave their homes, when the fear and danger had subsided, they went about celebrating and spreading the good news that Jesus was risen and love was the powerful force on the earth.
This year, we might get to experience a taste of what that original Easter was like, still in our homes daring to believe that hope is on the horizon. Then, after a while, when it is safe for all people, when it is the most loving choice, we will come out, gathering together, singing and shouting the good news that God brings life even out of death, that love always has the final say!
This year we might get the closest taste we have had yet to what that first Easter was like.”
I think this text of unknown author (I googled it, but I couldn’t find the original author of it) can help us even now few days after Easter to relive the most important belief of our faith, that is; Jesus’ death and resurrection for the human race. And what is so amazing about Easter is the fact that every Sunday celebrates the first Easter. This ‘second’ Easter Sunday of the year, we worship God who is divinely compassionate, bends down to us sinners, heals our weakness, conquers all evil, and grants that all the peoples of the earth may experience His tender mercy.

St. Faustina would like us to worship God on this Divine Mercy Sunday in a simple way.
Just remember A B C:

Ask for His mercy – God wants us to approach him in prayer, repenting of our sins and asking him to pour his mercy upon us and upon the whole world.
Be merciful to others – God wants us to receive His mercy and extend mercy (love and forgiveness) to others just as he does to us.
Complete trust in Jesus – God wants us to know that the graces of his mercy are dependent upon our trust in Him. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.

​May the Peace of our Merciful Lord be with you all.
We are the SPA Family and we are in this together!
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

Easter

APRIL 11-12, 2020

Within the last days and weeks, life as we know it has been turned upside down. Who knew that the person behind the cash register at Jewel or Sam's or the hardware store would be the front-line soldier as we battle invisible enemy?! Who knew that parents would take on the role of teachers as they are now homeschooling their children?! Who knew that the armor, the new armor would be the personal protective equipment that our brave soldiers, doctors, nurses and first responders are now wearing?! And, whoever imagine that our church doors would be closed these days?!

However, Holy Week and Easter will go on. The saving mystery of the Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus is our Springtime. His joy and hope are the Paschal Fire that dispels the darkness of sin and the threatening gloom of this pandemic. The saving work of Jesus is beyond the ability of anyone to suspend or alter it. What will change, however, is how we celebrate this holy time.

The global mortal danger posed by the coronavirus compels us this year to find a different way to participate in these rites, including the Rites of Sacred Triduum and Easter Sunday.

And now more than ever we – catholic believers of Chicagoland – must lean on each other to be a church of courage, responsibility, hope, and prayer. That’s why, I encourage you to prayerfully unite with whole Archdiocese of Chicago: Cardinal, auxiliary bishops, priest, deacons and all the Faithful. Here are the times of the Holy Triduum and Easter liturgies so that you may participate in a spiritual manner from your homes via social media sites or TV:

Holy Thursday Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper – April 9 at 5:00 pm.

Good Friday Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion – April 10 at 3:00 pm.

Holy Saturday Easter Vigil - April 11 at 8:00 pm.

Sunday Easter Mass (English, Spanish, Polish) – April 12 at 6:00 am and in English at 12 pm on ABC 7.

All liturgies are available at https://radiotv.archchicago.org/television/broadcast-masses, www.youtube.com/user/CatholicChicago, www.facebook.com/archchicago.

As God’s People, we will gather spiritually. We will recount the Passion of Our Lord, His death and burial. And, we will welcome the risen Christ and celebrate the glory of the Resurrection.

As we come together with a deepened hunger for spiritual communion with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, this year’s celebration of Holy Week will bring the amazing grace of God’s divine mercy. Join me in bringing chastened, humble hearts to the sacred days of Christ’s death and Resurrection. He will call us each by name as he did for Mary Magdalene in the garden of the tomb. (Jn. 20.11-18) He will come to us, as he did for the disciples hiding behind doors closed by fear, mercifully extend his pierced hands to us and say, “Peace be with you” (Jn. 20.19-20) because Christ is Risen, He is Risen indeed, Alleluia!

May we all celebrate with great joy the promise of our new life in Christ, our Risen Lord. We indeed are sons and daughters of New Life (that is, new life in Christ).

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. The Lord Jesus, through his cross and resurrection, has destroyed the power of sin and death and brought us into His life. Christ has won for us victory over the grave. We need to reflect on this and just how much our Lord loves us. Easter is so much more than flowers, cards, Easter eggs, candy and even beautiful music. It is the historical event that gives ultimate meaning and purpose to our lives. Because Jesus died and rose from the dead, we no longer have to fear sin and death. The victory has been won in Christ. We celebrate Jesus who is our Paschal Lamb who died out of sheer love for us.

Christ calls us into His Love so we may share one another’s burdens and work to bring the Kingdom of God to every person on the planet, and to the planet itself which is also suffering.

We all look forward to the day when the SPA’s doors will again be open for us to gather celebrate and receive the Holy Eucharist until then we'll just have to just accept a virtual hug. A with this hug, be assured that I am praying for you and your loved ones daily. Thank you for your generosity, and I sincerely appreciate the assistance you provide for SPA at this difficult time for all of us. I’m in awe of all the phone calls, emails, notes, letters, cards, Facebook messages and comments, and all likes and emojis. I would like to express my gratitude for the generous donations that you gave our Parish during this SIP time. I appreciate your friendly gesture to SPA in this time of need. It feels great to know that we have great friends like you. I will forever be grateful to you. I assure you that the funds will be put to good use. Thank you once again, and God bless you. I’m truly thankful for your steadiness, patience, and amazing digital, financial and spiritual involvement with our spiritual SPA home while we are all taking the SIP.

I want to extend wishes of a safe, healthy and holy Easter to all SPA’s parishioners and parish staff who call St. Paul their spiritual home.

May the Peace of our Risen Lord be with you all.
We are the SPA Family and we are in this together!

Fr. Chris Ciastoń

Palm Sunday

APRIL 4-5, 2020

Take a SIP with SPA! (Take a Shelter-In-Place with Saint Paul the Apostle!)

​Dear SPA family,
This Sunday, we celebrate Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord that marks the beginning of Holy Week in which we commemorate the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hailed during Palm Sunday, ridiculed during Good Friday, but exalted on Easter Sunday. All of these events we will unfold this week, especially during the Triduum.

But the question is, how can we make this week holy, while staying in our homes, in order to get into the paschal mystery that Jesus endured for us? Let me share with you the thoughts of Fr. Jerry Orbos from the Philippines, who came up with a meaning for every letter of the acronym HOLY WEEK.

H – Halt! Stop for a while or at least slow down. We feel the sadness and anxiety at this moment. We hold in prayer and in our hearts all those who have been touched by this disease. And now more than ever we must lean on each other to be a church of courage, responsibility, hope, and prayer.
That’s why, please join me and fellow parishioners from around Chicagoland in prayer as Cardinal Cupich and auxiliary bishops celebrate the Palm Sunday Mass and Holy Week liturgies. All liturgies are available at https://radiotv.archchicago.org/television/broadcast-masses, www.youtube.com/user/CatholicChicago
www.facebook.com/archchicago.
After the Holy Week we will return back to SPA for the virtual weekend Mass, celebrated by Fr. Joe and me.
O – Off with your worldly concerns. Turn off your cellular phones if you have to, so that you can focus on your spiritual life this week. Don’t let the world and its cares disturb the tranquility of your mind and soul this week. Let the world go by and let the Lord take care of everything.
L – Listen. If you are in the Off or Silent Mode, then you can really listen, pray and meditate. Take time to listen to God and tell Him what’s happening with your life. Allow the Father to wrap His loving arms around your shoulders once again and just listen. Is there something you are missing in your life? Is there something more you need to do in your life?
Y – Yield to God. Let go of your grip on your own life. Be on the lookout for His road signs as you travel on. Listen to His instructions and you will find your way.

​W – Warm up your Relationships. Time to allow your loved ones feel that warm-and-sunny spring you, not the cold and-cloudy-winter you. Reach out to the people you have taken for granted or left out altogether. Time to call a friend or family members. Call, text, write, and smile. Use anything that will help you repair, restore and revitalize your relationships.
E – Erase the burdens of guilt and sin with a good, honest and humble examination of conscious. Heed God’s call: “Come back to me with all your heart. Don’t let sin keep us apart. Long have I waited for your coming home to me.” In response to God’s love, may we also say to God, especially this week: “Create a clean heart in me, O God. Give back to me the joy of your salvation.” Time also to erase hurts, resentments, anger and ill feelings. Forgive people who hurt you and ask for forgiveness from people you have hurt.
E – Express your love. Whatever you do, especially this week, like praying, fasting, works of penance and deeds of charity, let them all be expressions of your love and gratitude to God. Let them be done, not out of fear or out of obligation.
K – Kneel down. In humility, kneel down in prayer before God and thank Him for suffering so much, for dying on the cross and for rising again for our salvation. Somebody died for you and me. Let us not allow this week to pass without personally thanking Him.

​I hope that Fr. Jerry’s thoughts can help to us a HOLY WEEK!
Christ is our Good Shepherd and He will continue to strengthen us. Be assured that I am praying for you and your loved ones daily. And, I’d like to repeat some of the words form the last week letter to you because I am so fascinated with your generosity. I sincerely appreciate the assistance you provide for SPA at this difficult time for all of us. I’m in awe of all the phone calls, emails, notes, letters, cards, Facebook messages and comments, and all 👍🏻, 🙂, and ❤.

I’m truly thankful for your steadiness, patience, and amazing digital, financial and spiritual involvement with our spiritual SPA home while we are all taking the SIP.

We are the SPA Family and we are in this together!
Stay safe, healthy, and have a HOLY WEEK, blessings,
Fr. Chris Ciastoń

“Take a SIP with SPA”

MARCH 28-29, 2020

Take a SIP with SPA! (Take a Shelter-In-Place with Saint Paul the Apostle!)

Dear SPA’s Parishioners and Friends:

A friend of mine likes our parish abbreviation: SPA. He also told me an interesting phrase for this COVID-19 time, which I’d like to use in this week letter to you: “take a SIP with SPA” (take a Shelter-In Place with Saint Paul the Apostle). I really like this catchphrase. So, here are some ideas for your spiritual SPA day. Go ahead! Take a SIP with SPA!

SPA’s staff is working on ways to stay engaged with you: creative ideas about how to keep us connected even while apart. Now is the time for all of us to find ways to keep the Faith alive and vibrant in our lives and in our homes.
I encourage you to visit our wonderful website for ideas from our parish staff to help you to pray, reflect, meditate, and learn how to use it as a kind of spiritual SIP retreat. You can find there:
- weekend Masses recorded at our church,
- weekly message from your pastor 😉
- weekly bulletin www.saintpaultheapostle.church/bulletins
- parish staff reflections
- ‘our virtual church’; daily Mass, Rosary, Chaplet, Stations of the Cross, Lenten Mission, and digital Adoration
- and newest addition; ‘digital Faith Formation’ for all ages (children, youth, adults)
All the parish staff ideas are accessible on the main page of our parish website www.saintpaultheapostle.church.

The suspension of public Masses doesn’t affect scheduled Mass intentions because Fr. Joe and I will still celebrate Masses for the day and for the assigned intentions but privately.

Brothers and sisters, none of us have experienced the deprivation of the Mass before and, certainly, not to this scale. The idea of not seeing you, celebrating the Mass and liturgies with you, and for all of us not to be together is extremely painful. I do not pretend to understand it all and I could never have foreseen the unfolding of our current circumstances; yet I do know that Jesus is still with us. God’s hand is in this for sure.
Lastly, I am so impressed with your generosity. I sincerely appreciate your assistance you provide for SPA at this difficult time for all of us. I’m in awe of all the phone calls, emails, notes, letters, cards, Facebook messages and comments, and all👍🏻, 🙂, and ❤.

I’m truly thankful for your steadiness, patience, and amazing digital, financial and spiritual involvement with your and my spiritual SPA while we are all taking a SIP.
We feel the sadness and anxiety of this moment. We hold in prayer and in our hearts all those who have been touched by this disease. And now more than ever we must lean on each other to be a church of courage, responsibility, hope, and prayer.

Let us pray. Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages curing every disease and illness. At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love. Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbors from helping one another. Jesus, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow. Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth. Surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace. Jesus Christ, heal us. Amen.

We are the SPA Family and we are in this together!
Stay safe and healthy, blessings,

Fr. Chris Ciastoń

SPA's Campus is Closed.

MARCH 21-22, 2020

Take a SIP with SPA! (Take a Shelter-In-Place with Saint Paul the Apostle!)

​Dear SPA’s parishioners and friends,

I am sure you are receiving information from lots of different sources I prayerfully ask you to pay attention to this communication, which provides the most updated, and accurate information regarding the impact of the coronavirus on our church operations.

This is a very fluid situation, but I am committed to providing you with regular communication as the situation warrants. Your health and safety as we continue our spiritual lives is my greatest concern. Based on the latest recommendations received from the Archdiocese of Chicago and from state officials we took the following actions effective immediately:

Cardinal Cupich mandated the suspension of all Masses, liturgical services, events and meetings, until further notice.
On Thursday (3.19.2020), I was informed by the Archdiocese of Chicago that Palm Sunday and Holy Week Liturgies, including Easter Sunday and all liturgies after Easter will not be celebrated publicly, until further notice.
Our campus is closed and the parish staff was asked to work from home.

I understand that it’s a difficult time for all of us. It’s a difficult time for our families, workplaces, schools, churches and health of our bodies, minds, and souls. I always try to encourage believers to share their time, talents and treasure. I think that at this time it won’t be that easy to do so.
However, you can share your time with your family and friends especially through your prayers. Please visit www.saintpaultheapostle.church for some suggestions of the various types of prayer for this Lenten time including the weekend Mass.
Share your talents through taking care of your family and friends through social distancing, hygiene, and staying home as much as possible.
You can also share your treasure with those who need it the most at this moment, especially the elderly.

It’s never easy and never a good time to ask for money for the parish and I understand that we are all experiencing some hardship nowadays. We would sincerely appreciate any assistance you can provide. There are several ways to help St. Paul the Apostle financially during the coronavirus outbreak. Even though our campus is closed to the public, we still have operating expenses such as salaries and utilities that we must pay. You can:

- Mail a check to 6401 Gages Lake Road, Gurnee IL 60031.
- Donate online via www.saintpaultheapostle.church/giving.
- Donate via a text message on your mobile phone. Here's how:
Text 'Sunday' with a dollar amount to 84321.
Click on the link that you are sent.
Put St. Paul the Apostle in the church name box and 60031 in the address box.
Enter your name and email address. A code will be sent to your email address.
Enter the code and your payment information.
After establishing your account, you will not have to repeat this process for subsequent donations.

We feel the sadness and anxiety of this moment and this was not a decision the Archdiocese made lightly. We hold in prayer and in our hearts all those who have been touched by this disease. And now more than ever we must lean on each other to be a church of courage, responsibility, hope, and prayer.

We are the SPA Family and we are in this together!
Stay safe and healthy, blessings

Fr. Chris Ciastoń

Suspension of all liturgical services

MARCH 23, 2023

Take a SIP with SPA! (Take a Shelter-In-Place with Saint Paul the Apostle!)

​Dear Saint Paul the Apostle parishioners and friends,

Based on current guidelines from local public health departments, which recommend the cancellation of public gatherings involving 250 or more people, Cardinal Cupich mandated the suspension of all liturgical services effective Saturday (March 14th) until further notice. In addition, he has mandated the closing of schools operated by the archdiocese, and to close the Pastoral Center and related agency offices until further notice.

“This was not a decision I made lightly,” said Cardinal Cupich. “The Eucharist is the source and summit of our life as Catholics. And our schools and agencies provide essential services to many thousands across Cook and Lake Counties. But, in consultation with leaders from across the archdiocese, for the sake of the safety of our students, parishioners, and all the women and men who serve the people of the archdiocese, it is clear that we must take the better part of caution in order to slow the spread of this pandemic.”

While public Mass will be suspended beginning Saturday evening, March 14, our chapel will remain open for private prayer.

All events and meetings currently scheduled are canceled until further notice. This includes the FSF program, EDGE/Confirmation and any ministry/group event or meeting. Our campus is closed except the day chapel.

At this time, our parish staff will be present to answer phone calls and perform routine maintenance with a heightened focus on disinfecting all areas of common use.

Fr. Joe and I will celebrate Mass privately for the good of the People of God, the church and the intentions of the day.


Televised and online Masses provide opportunities for the faithful to remain connected in some way to the Sacrifice of the Mass during this difficult time.

Additional guidance will be forthcoming from the Office of the Vicar General on the administration and celebration of other sacraments.

“In this time of legitimate concern for the safety of ourselves, our loved ones and those at the margins of society, we must hold fast to the knowledge that the impulses that come from God bring courage, consolation, generosity and solidarity,” said Cardinal Cupich. “Instead of allowing this moment to trap us in fear, we must find unity in advancing all that is good in our common humanity. This means staying spiritually and emotionally close to one another, in our families, our friendships and our communities. It means helping where possible and safe. It means checking on the vulnerable. It means being responsible about hygiene. This is a time to be gentle with one another. For Christians, it is a time to reflect on how Jesus made those struggling with illness a priority. It is also a time to be surprised by the blessings that come from being part of the same family —the human family.”

The archdiocese will provide detailed instructions to me and the parish and will share updates on an ongoing basis.

THERE WILL BE LIVE FACEBOOK STEAMING OF THE MASS AT 5PM, SATURDAY, MARCH 14TH (only Fr. Joe and I). YOU CAN ALSO ACCESS IT AT ANY TIME THEREAFTER.

Fr. Chris Ciastoń, Pastor

(847) 918-0600         Fax: (847) 918-0640

INFO@SAINTPAULTHEAPOSTLE.CHURCH

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6401 GAGES LAKE ROAD GURNEE, IL 60031