On Saturday evening, September 22, Deacon Ralph Bias’ twenty-first anniversary as a deacon was celebrated in the Sacred Heart parish hall. The hall was filled with Sacred Heart families including some of Deacon’s family members. The tables were decorated in black and white with black and white floral centerpieces. Music (some “golden oldies”) was provided by Andrew Lyke’s karaoke system and inspirational music from the choir. Fr. Ray Lescher provided not only the highlights of Deacon’s years as a deacon but contributions from Sophronia Bias as well. The meal provided by caterers was substantial and tasty—and true to the Sacred Heart spirit, everyone enjoyed the meal.
“It’s been about seven years since I haven’t been here. I came back when my granddaughter got christened, baptized.” (That’s little Kali, our newest Sacred Heart member, sleeping peacefully in Laura’s arms.) “This is how we got them back and her Mom and other family as well. Prior to that, I was here like seven years.” “I work at BP Gas Station. I have one son and one grandchild.” Laura says she finds Sacred Heart good now and the Sacred Heart family is happy to have Laura back.
As the Sacred Heart family has learned, Fr. Ryan grew up in Oswego and was a member of St. Anne’s parish. This Sunday, Sacred Heart welcomed visitors from St. Anne – Fr. Ryan’s mother, Kim, Denine Chambers, Jameson Fajfer and Vicky Fajfer, Jameson’s mother. In addition, we were visited by two seminarians, Greg Alberts and Joseph LeMay.
Greg Alberts said he is “at Mundelein Seminary, for four more years” When he was asked “Then we’ll look for you here, right?” to which Greg replied “Oh yeah! I’ll be back. You’ve got that on tape now. I’ll be back.”
Denine Chambers, Jameson Fajfer and Vicky Fajfer, Jameson’s mother, are from St. Anne’s parish in Oswego.
Joseph LeMay related, “I’m going into my second year of college seminary at Pontifical College Josephenum. I’m from St. Joseph in Downers Grove . . . Fr. Ryan invited me here – he said ‘I’ve got the 10 am Mass at Sacred Heart. Come join me.’”
“My name is Kim and I’m Ryan’s Mom, Fr. Ryan’s Mom” shared Kim Ryan. “I’m blessed to be here and he’s very blessed to be here. Thank you so much.” (Kim was informed that Sacred Heart was glad to have her.) “We’re happy to hear that. Everybody’s been so nice. When Ryan was younger, he had a devotion to the Sacred Heart. I don’t know if you knew that. When he was a young seminarian, he made a very strong devotion to the Sacred Heart – still does. So, is it coincidence that he’s here? I don’t think so.”
Tom Mayer is from Glen Ellyn, St. Petronille Parish. Tom began, “I met Father (Alfred) in 2012 at a Joliet Cursillo weekend. And we’ve worked together for charity in Uganda, building a medical center, and opening it up and treating people for the past five years.” Tom is the Board President of the “Friends of Shalom for Uganda.” Fr. Alfred Tumwesigye is from Uganda and he explained his objective “… and I’ve been working in health care ministry to make sure that people in rural communities, hard to reach areas, having to walk, and climbing the mountain, where they can access better health care for their families for their kids, and for their pregnant mothers.”
“I’m here for the summer mission cooperation plan here, a program of the United States Council of Bishops, where we have been invited in the Diocese of Joliet by the Bishops for the Mission Office, to speak to the parishioners of the Sacred Heart Parish. So that through their second collection, for their prayers and for their financial support, they can help with furnishing the medical center, with the Mary Queen of Heaven Community Medical Center in Uganda. It is in a rural community in the southwestern part of the country. From the capital city which is Kampala you drive about six hours to reach the village community where the medical center is.”
Fr. Alfred has been a priest for the last 13 years. “I was ordained on July 3, 2005, and this year I made 13 years in the priesthood. I’m still around [Joliet] until September 2 when I go back to Uganda, so I still have the rest of August. Thank God I’m here meeting great people, caring and loving people.
Our visitors were Nick and Janice Harper of Castle Rock, Colorado, along with their children, Mary, 5 years of age, Nathan, 9, Sarah and Caley, 14 and 13.
According to Janice Harper, they were “on the way to visit my parents in Michigan. So, on the way here we were looking at MassTimes for Travel [a mobile app] and so we figured we’d come here – stop on the way.”
The Harpers had to get underway and were not able to join us for Coffee And . . . but it was a pleasure to have them stop in. This was evidenced by the fact that they were certainly delayed by conversations from some of the Sacred Heart family.
James and Heather Shannon reside in Sacramento, California. Heather Shannon began with the reason for their visit. “We’re here for the International Society of Technology in Education Conference in Chicago. And we’re visiting our cousins in Bloomington today and so we were looking for a parish along the way. And you guys are actually on the list of African American parishes for the Bishops Council, the USCCB. So, we found your name on the list.”
“We’re just on our way down to Bloomington and we’re going to return to Chicago this afternoon.”
Heather continued, “We attend St. Anthony Parish in Sacramento. We have two daughters and both of them graduated from Catholic high school and attended Catholic colleges.”
“James works for the California Lottery and I work for the Elk Grove Unified School District as a Technology Specialist. And I train the teachers on how to use their computers with the students. . . .It’s a tough job but I enjoy it.” She has been doing this for about twenty years. James followed on, “I’m an auditor for the State of California – make sure everything goes right.” When asked how they liked the service, James answered, “We loved it.” Heather added, “It was wonderful, very inspiring. The music was beautiful. The sermon was great.” And they both agreed, “The welcome was amazing.” The Shannons were a delightful couple and the Sacred Heart family hopes they will visit our parish whenever they visit the area.
“I’m presently living at St. Anthony’s in downtown Joliet, with my dear friend and your pastor, Fr. Bill Dewan, who’s leaving this week for the Cathedral. But he’s also going to continue to be your pastor, for which he is very grateful and happy and we’re both happy that we’re not going to be too far from each other to visit and get together.”
“God has been so good to me. On June 7th, 1958 I was ordained a priest at the Cathedral of St. Raymond’s and for these past 60 years, I’ve been blessed to work in the diocese, pastor in four parishes, associate in two when I was first ordained, and now I’m blessed to be able to work with the elderly and infirmed in the hospitals and nursing homes. And to be with our priests and sisters for spiritual direction is a great joy for me. And I’m so grateful and thankful to God for all of my blessings and for all of the wonderful people beginning with my Mom and Dad and my family who nurtured and sustained me over all of these years.”
“I went to St. Raymond’s grade school. The question was ‘How did I determine to be a priest?’ I went off to grade school at St. Ray’s then I went to Joliet Township High School. I was in public high school for four years, and it was after my high school years that I went to the seminary. I’d say the first spark came when I was an altar boy at St. Ray’s, maybe in fifth or sixth grade. When I saw the priest there working so faithfully with the people and with the youth, I was inspired. And said ‘Lord, I think I’d like to be a priest someday.’ And sure enough, after high school, I went out to the seminary, was there for eight years, four years at Illinois Benedictine, at that time it was St. Procopius, in Lisle and in my last four years I studied at the University of St. Mary’s in Baltimore, Maryland. Then came back to Joliet to begin my ministry. Blessed, happy, I’m so thankful to God.”
The Sacred Heart family has been blessed and thankful to have the opportunity to know Fr. Jim Lennon.
The Sacred Heart Family has lost our beloved and dedicated family member, Joseph “Joe” Adler. His life was celebrated at St. Raymond’s Cathedral with his family, friends and many Sacred Heart members in attendance. Sacred Heart knew him as a man dedicated to the survival of the parish. And he often participated in idea sessions to increase our membership. He would often remark that he couldn’t understand why we weren’t filled to the rafters.
There isn’t enough room in this bulletin to include all of the thoughts from the Sacred Heart family about Joe.
Below are just a few individuals remembrances.
Harry Leddy – Occasionally Joe would go to breakfast with Harry, Nancy and Larry. “We were always laughing and I have no idea what we were laughing about. But he would always leave you with a challenge of social consciousness. You’re laughing away and then you walk away and realize he ‘zinged’ you with a challenge regarding society.”
Nancy McCauley – Larry and Nancy put their younger son Michael in Britannica preschool over at St. Francis College because he missed his older brother, Patrick, when Patrick went to school. All Michael talked about was his teacher “Miss Jodie, Miss Jodie”. When Nancy came to Sacred Heart a number of years later, she discovered that Michael’s teacher was Jodie Adler. The McCauley’s met Jodie, her family and of course, Joe. Nancy expressed her feelings about the importance of Sacred Heart.
Deacon Ralph Bias – Bob Jones, Fr. Ray Lescher, Jack Rogers and Ralph Bias “always went out to dinner maybe once or twice a month.” Joe expressed his concern often about the survival of the church. Ralph recalls that Joe was very, very, very adamant about the front door of the church. He commented that if he was driving by and saw those front doors he would keep on driving. However, Ralph had assured him that there was someone who was going to come by and take a look at the doors to see what could be done. And that was satisfactory to Joe. And options were being explored!
There are so many things that can be said about Joe, just too little room in this bulletin
Sacred Heart was visited by the Mudron and Wilhelmi families this past Sunday. Mary Mudron stated “This is our first time. They [Michelle and A.J.] brought us here.” Michelle Wilhelmi explained “My mother-in-law [Mary Beth Wilhelmi] and my Uncle Joe comes here.” Mary continued, “Mrs. Wilhelmi has been telling us how wonderful it is here. And so, I’ve been hoping to come for a long time and then Michelle invited us to join her family today here and then go to brunch afterwards.” (Michelle has been here many times before.) Mary “We enjoyed it. Oh yes, very much. This was so much fun. It’s such a beautiful celebration. We really enjoyed it. Thank you.”
Both families attend the Cathedral. And they promised to visit us again.
Alexis is now fifteen years old and a freshman at Plainfield Central High School. Roxiana has been at Sacred Heart “my entire life. I am 45 years old. My grandmother, Dorothy Fuqua, was a member here. And she got me when I was two and so I’ve been here with her ever since. And she was a member here for over 70 years. “
When asked why she had stayed here [at Sacred Heart], Roxiana replied, “Because it’s my home, my family home. . . .You know, it’s because I think once you walk in the door, and especially if you’ve been blessed to be here from childhood up, to leave is something you really can’t conceive of thought. You
can’t think of it, you know. Even through changes and whatever else may happen here, it’s where I have always been and will always be. Unless we move out of state, or the city, then yeah, we’ll be here. . . . I do still have the studio, Generation Dance Company. We are celebrating nineteen years on May
1st. Next year will be our 20th and of course, we started here. Fr. Ray Lescher, you know, was so kind to me and allowed us to start here. We started next door, what is now the banquet hall; it used to be the Oasis House, the nuns’ house. Our very first day, we had fifteen kids in the little living room of the Oasis House and then we spilled out onto the grass because we had too many for the little room. It was only fifteen but it was a tiny little house. And then he let us take over the upstairs which used to be our banquet hall area. And let us put in mirrors and ballet barres. We were here for three years until we moved into our own space. And he, you know, everywhere we went, he has blessed us or Sacred Heart has blessed us in our endeavors to offer dance to kids in the Joliet working area. “
“We tend to have … average 200 kids every year. I have ten [teachers] on staff. Kids start dancing at the age of three and they go up through seniors in high school. And then we had to have some adult classes and Zumba exercise classes. We’re going to be offering Yoga next year. So, we’re continuing to grow.”
“Our whole family has grown up here, there were three sisters, two other sisters and myself. Gloriana lives in Ohio, Cincinnati, Ohio and my middle sister, Rose Lynch, who also attends church here and lives in Bolingbrook. My aunt comes from time to time, and she went to Sacred Heart Parish – she went to the school here. Her, my uncle and my mother – all attended the school until it was closed. So, I don’t know, I just think we’re deeply embedded in the church. And really, I think we all attribute our faith and the way we live our lives to, very much so, the teachings that we’ve learned here at Sacred Heart parish.”
“My daughter went to, initially started at St. Pat’s grade school, but graduated from St. Paul’s because St. Pat’s closed down. And so, it’s just something that’s important to us that we stay here at Sacred Heart. But more importantly to practice our faith that we’ve learned here.”
The Fuqua family embodies so much of what is so much the history, the qualities and the spirit of Sacred Heart.