February 1, 2009

Married Catholics in the church and society

Cardinal George's Schedule

  1. Feb. 1: 11 a.m., Mass, Missionary Sisters of St. Benedict, Oak Forest
  2. Feb. 6: 12:10 p.m., First Friday Mass, Holy Name Cathedral
  3. Feb. 7: 8 a.m., Parish Pastoral Councils Leadership Day, Maria High School
  4. Feb. 8-13: Ecclesia in America (CELAM), Buenos Aires, South America
  5. Feb. 14: 5 p.m., 50th Anniversary Mass, Infant Jesus of Prague School, Flossmoor
Cardinal's Crest

Cardinal's Appointments

January 23, 2009

His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George announces the following appointments:


Rev. Jaroslaw “Basil” Cendrowicz, OSPPE, to pastor of St. Rosalie Parish, Harwood Heights, effective immediately. Rev. Michael Shanahan, from administrator of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, North Ashland, to be pastor of the same, effective immediately.


Rev. James Flynn, to administrator of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish, South Throop, while retaining his duties as pastor of Holy Name of Mary Parish, South Loomis, effective immediately.

Rev. Edward Linton, OSB, to be the administrator of St. Mary of Perpetual Help Parish, West 32nd Street, while retaining his duties as pastor of St. James Parish, South Wabash, effective immediately.

Rev. John J. McDonnell, to administrator of Queen of the Universe Parish, South Hamlin, while retaining his duties as pastor of St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish, South Kilbourn, effective immediately.

Rev. John W. Murray, to administrator of St. Genevieve Parish, West Altgeld, effective immediately.


Rev. James Kehoe, pastor of St. Joan of Arc Parish, Evanston, to be on sabbatical from Jan. 1 to March 31.

Rev. Leoncio Santiago, pastor of St. Genevieve Parish, West Altgeld St., to be on sabbatical from Jan. 1 to June 30.

Rev. William Stenzel, pastor of St. Bede the Venerable, to be on sabbatical from Jan. 26 to April 25.

Rev. George Velloorattil, pastor of Queen of the Universe Parish, South Hamlin, to be on sabbatical from Jan. 1 to March 30.


Rev. Robert Tuzik, from administrator of St. Gall Parish, South Sawyer, to resident of Notre Dame de Chicago Parish, while retaining his duties as special assistant to the archbishop, Sabbatical Board Office and Office for Divine Worship, effective Feb. 8.

Priests’ placement board

Rev. Waldemar Stawiarski, to be a part-time member of the Diocesan Priests’ Placement Board, while retaining his duties as pastor of St. Helen Parish, West Augusta Blvd., effective immediately.

Director of pastoral care

Rev. Patrick J. Brennan, to parttime director of pastoral Care and Mission Integration for the Clare at Water Tower, Chicago, effective immediately.

Pro-life ministry

Rev. James Heyd, from Priests for Life with residence at Maryville, Des Plaines, to be the cardinal’s delegate to Pro-Life Ministry with residence at St. Lambert Parish, Skokie, effective immediately.

Among the seven Sacraments of the apostolic Churches, Marriage and Holy Orders are called “social sacraments.” This means that when a man and a woman are married, or when a man is ordained a bishop, priest or deacon, everyone’s relationship to God in the family of the church shifts a bit; everyone is affected by a marriage and an ordination, whether married or not, ordained or not. Everyone in the church therefore has an interest in strengthening marriage and preserving the integrity of the formation and the lives of the ordained. Neither marriage nor holy orders is a purely private affair. Neither sacrament is a career. Both consecrate vocations that bring holiness of life to the entire church.

Two weeks ago, Bishops George Rassas and Gustavo Garcia-Siller represented the archdiocese at the World Conference on Family Life, which was sponsored by the Holy See and met in Mexico. These gatherings have longterm effects on the life of the whole church. In recent weeks, here at home, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, consisting of about 60 elected laypeople and a few appointed members, has been considering the question: “What can parishes do to strengthen marriage and family life?”

Members of the APC brought this question to parish councils and to deanery meetings, as they do regularly with other questions about living the faith here. What these discussions bring back to the general meetings of the APC is shaped into advice for me. I am always grateful to the APC for these conversations; they bring a steady stream of observations and recommendations from the laity as an integral part of the governance and direction of the archdiocese.

Challenges to marriage and family life

The members of the APC outlined a number of challenges to marriage and family life today. The practice of cohabitation before marriage is not good training for the habit of self-sacrifice that sustains a couple for a lifetime. It is no accident that cohabitation correlates with the high incidence of divorce. Social mobility is a challenge because it weakens a family’s ties to community and extended family and parish. These strains are even more evident in immigrant families, especially when the second generation resists customs of child raising their parents believe in. A challenge expressed by the teenaged representatives to the APC was new to me: The teens said that a source of tension in the family is the difficulty children sometimes have in getting their parents to go to Mass. Most of the complaints I have heard are from parents complaining that their children don’t go to Mass!

Responses to the challenges to marriage and family life

The members of the APC discussed a number of responses that would help parishes to strengthen marriage and families. Looking at family practices, many suggestions came down to deliberately spending more time together and with the Lord. Attending Mass together led the list of practices that would strengthen marriage and family life. Parish bulletins could comment on how families might celebrate liturgical seasons and feasts; they could also instruct families on how to pray together, especially meal prayers, the rosary, the sharing of Scripture as a family. Parishes might organize socialjustice outreach that would unite family members in working for social transformation, and parishes could organize themselves into small faith communities or families of families (an example mentioned is the system used at Holy Family Parish in Inverness). Social events, block parties, pot-luck suppers, movie nights, date nights for married couples (with the parish providing baby sitting services), picnics — all were examples of events that parishes could arrange in order to help married couples and their children come together in faith and love.

More frequent preaching on the Sacrament of Marriage and on marriage as a vocation (something previously requested of priests by the APC), educating to prepare couples for marriage and following those recently married or whose marriages are in trouble were all parish centered activities that strengthen marriage and family life. Parishes should be sure that married couples know where they can obtain counseling consistent with the church’s teaching. The present pre-Cana model, the APC suggested, might be extended in time; and the archdiocesan guidelines for mentoring and following up on couples married in the parish in the last year are not implemented in every parish. Whole family catechesis is effective, some said, because both parents and children have to come together around the mysteries of the faith. The theology of the body, of marriage and of family needs to be better taught and assimilated in parishes, along with practical guidelines on how to show love, how to see the world through your spouse’s eyes, how to find creative ways to use differences between spouses and between parents and children. The problem of children caught in gangs, drugs and guns brought this part of the discussion into general societal disorders that influence family life but are not controlled by the parish.

The APC also recommended greater recognition of marriage and public support for family life as a regular part of parish life. Annually renewing marriage vows at a special Mass could be linked to World Marriage Day (the second Sunday of February each year) or to another occasion or feast. Anniversaries could be published monthly in the bulletins. A family could take responsibility for all the lay ministries at a particular Mass on a day special to them. Arranging family retreats and publicly blessing and thanking married couples for their example and their witness to married life in the Lord were also mentioned, along with many other suggestions that I’ll now vet with the Presbyteral Council.

Issues related to strengthening marriage and family life

Several issues that relate directly to the question of how to strengthen marriage remain to be discussed at another time. Some complained that parishes do little to assist those who live a single life in the world, especially as they grow older. Few brought up the issue that, more than anything else, has served to separate sexual activity from procreation: artificial contraception. A disdain for premarital chastity, the spread of sexual promiscuity and the moral unraveling of sexual relations foreseen by Pope Paul VI 40 years ago are now written in the societal statistics that point to family dissolution. So-called “gay marriage” would lead to a further deterioration of the ties of marriage and family, for marriage is a natural institution, not the creature of either church or state. Neither church nor state, consequently, has the power or right to change the nature of marriage. Judicially driven measures in favor of same-sex marriage are repeatedly reprimanded by the democratic process not because people hate those who are homosexually oriented but because most people still have a sense of the nature of marriage itself. Marriage is a two-in-one-flesh communion of persons that culminates in the conjugal act, a type of action by which new human beings come to be, even when not every instance of the conjugal act is effectively reproductive. Such acts are possible only within the heterosexual difference.

In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus confirms the teaching of the book of Genesis that, from the beginning, man was created “male and female” (Gn 1:26- 27) and for this reason “the two shall be as one” (Gn 2:24). The Second Vatican Council taught that “true married love is caught up into God’s love; it is guided and enriched … by the saving action of the church, in order that the partners may be effectively led to God and receive help and strength in the sublime responsibility of parenthood” (Gaudium et spes, 48).

It is always a joy for me to listen to conversations where the faith of the church obviously influences the thinking and lives of Catholics of the archdiocese. During the recent conversations on strengthening marriage and family life, I heard again how the faith shapes lives here. In the month of February, as we wait out the winter and try to adjust to a shrunken economy, our relation to God and to one another in the church should strengthen us all. God bless you.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Francis Cardinal George, OMI

Archbishop of Chicago