27 Sep

Spiritually Whining

Letters from a Pastor to His People- September 27, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

"That's not fair!" How many times have we heard that from a toddler? Or from a NFL player complaining about a flag (or no flag)?  Or maybe a spouse saying "that's not fair!" to his/her partner?  Or a priest saying that to his bishop?  Or an associate pastor or seminarian saying that to his pastor (never here, of course, at Saint Juliana!)?

Or us saying that to God?

We might not know we're complaining internally to God.  We can usually tell by our "spiritual mood."  Are you more prone to distraction in prayer? Do you find yourself brooding in prayer or anxious in prayer? Is there a glaring division between your prayer life and moral life? That is, you seem to be praying okay or experiencing peace at Mass, but then as soon as you see your family or walk out to the parking lot you're angry?

27 Sep

Deacon Tom Dombai Ordination

Hello from Deacon Tom Dombai and Marie Dombai

We are both overjoyed and I am deeply humbled to inform you that on Saturday, October 26th, I was ordained a deacon of the Catholic Church! For those of you who don’t know me, I am a life-long parishioner of St. Juliana (and a SJ alum) married for 35 years to my wife, Marie, (also an SJ alum). We are the parents of six children ranging in ages from 22 to 32 (all of whom are SJ alums). We are also the doting grandparents of two very active little ones.

My path of discernment leading to my vocation to serve as a deacon has spanned the course of decades. I had the first glimmer of a notion that the Lord might be calling me to be a deacon well over 25 years ago. But at that time, I was the father of several young children, I worked a full-time job and was involved in several parish groups and ministries, and I felt I just could not embark on an intensive and time-consuming commitment then without short-changing my family in the process. As soon as our youngest finished high school, and after talking things through with Marie, we decided it was the right time for me to apply for admission to the deacon formation program of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

My discernment of my vocation was aided in large part by the example of the faith-filled lives of my mother and father. It was also fostered by other important people in my life, most of whom are also from St. Juliana. I was greatly influenced by Deacon Vince Zegers, who was the very first permanent deacon to serve at our parish, a man who tirelessly gave of his time and talents as the longtime leader of our parish sponsored Boy Scout Troop, and a true and faithful servant of the people of God. Over the years I have also been influenced and helped along the discernment path by the gentle nudge and encouragement of several of our parish priests, by the example of Deacon Bob Ryan and Deacon Ed Dolan, and by the prayers and good wishes of so many of you.

The deacon formation program is an ambitious and demanding program involving many academic courses held on week nights and Saturdays, several intensive internships and service projects, monthly theological reflection groups and time in spiritual direction, a great deal of studying, exam taking and paper writing, and a whole lot of prayer! The purpose of the program is not merely to teach candidates for the diaconate how to perform the duties and roles of a deacon. More fundamentally, the formation program is designed to help candidates discern whether the Lord is really calling us to diaconate ministry, to prayerfully decide how we will respond to that call, and to strive to conform our lives to the model of Christ the Servant, in the service of the people of God and the Church. 

Marie also fully participated in the formation program by taking nearly all of the classes offered to the deacon candidates. She passionately advocated that the wives should also receive training in preparing and delivering reflections on scripture similar to the men’s training in homiletics. The class was so well received that the leaders of the formation program are now planning on making this course a permanent class offering to the wives of deacon candidates.

Deacons serve in an integrated three-fold ministry by proclaiming the Word of God, assisting in the liturgy, and performing works of charitable service both at the parish level and, more broadly, to the poor and the marginalized in society. I look forward to performing this ministry in the service of the people of St. Juliana and the people of our Archdiocese for many years to come. Marie intends to share and assist in this ministry to serve the people of St. Juliana by using her own gifts and talents to spread God’s love in the service of others as a lay minister.

We thank you all for your kind encouragement and prayers over the past four years of formation and request that we might remain in your prayers in the future. You have our assurance that the wonderful people of St. Juliana will always be in ours!


27 Sep

Reflections from Sem Christian - Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?

Transforming “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” into “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

It seems that Christ experienced loneliness on the cross. “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani,” which in English is translated into “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala” (John 19:25). In the presence of people who loved him, it seems that Jesus experienced abandonment. What then can be expected for humans? Many times, we are surrounded by loved ones, but sometimes that does not seem to be enough. Shortly after Christ felt abandoned, He said, “it is fulfilled” (John 19, 30) and “cried out…, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’” (Luke 23, 46). Then, what can we do when we experience the silence of God when we feel alone, when difficulties surround us, or when we are afraid?

In the midst of all its beauty, humanity has many limitations. Not completely understanding the Mystery of God and His will appears to be one of the realities that impact humans. When a personal plan seems different than the divine plans, uncertainty and doubt can take over our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Promptly, frustration, displeasure, pain, and anger might arise. Therefore, what to do?

When we feel abandoned by God, let us surrender ourselves to Him, even when we cannot understand. Let us fight the emotions of abandonment with the action of abandoning ourselves into His hands. It is not a matter of understanding as it is of accepting.

The bad news is that we will not fully understand God. The good news is that trusting and abandoning our lives to Him will glorify Him and positively impact our souls. What does not make sense today might become more evident with time. Let us keep trusting our Lord always and everywhere.

Christian Melendez-Cruz

27 Sep

Gospel September 27, 2020

The First Reading is from the Prophet Ezekiel. In this passage, Ezekiel is addressing his fellow Israelites who are suffering the consequences for centuries of infidelity to the Lord -for instance, the loss of their homeland and deportation to Babylon. Therefore, Ezekiel answers the objection raised by the Jewish slaves in Babylon, “Our ancestors sinned, but we are punished, and so “The Lord’s way is not fair!” In the same chapter of Ezekiel, God returns this “not fair” accusation, asking the House of Israel if their ways are “fair” when they turn from God’s love to serve false gods and their own false sense of what life is. Yet, God was willing to forgive them if they turned away from their evil ways.

20 Sep

Christ Will Be Magnified In My Body

Letters from a Pastor to His People- September 20, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

I do my best to exercise regularly.  When the gym to which I belong closed during Covid I began to jog outside.  In fact, you might have seen me (and my apologies, if you have).  Well, by some inspiration of the Holy Spirit, when I returned from my 30-Day Retreat I began running through St. Adalbert Cemetery.  I mentioned this on a recent Chi-Bro podcast.  I very much enjoy 'running amongst the tombstones' because (no, I haven't lost my mind) the grounds are beautiful and quiet and full of religious symbols to keep me focused on Jesus.  Also because I'm confronted, when I do so, with my own mortality.  Sure, I'm healthy and young now, able to run and exercise, but death is chasing me and will eventually catch me.  I won't live forever and I certainly won't be healthy forever.  I am dust and unto dust I shall return.

20 Sep

The Art of War Against Sin


"Every battle is won or lost before it is fought," says Sun Tzu in The Art of War.  It is the preparation prior to the commencement of the action, as well as the condition of the military-industrial complex of the nation, that will determine the overall outcome of the war.  This is why Horatio Nelson, as the Battle of Trafalgar was about to commence on October 21, 1805, did not send detailed instructions to his fleet, but the simple reminder: "England expects that every man will do his duty."  He knew the tactical work had already taken place.

20 Sep

Meet Seminarian Christian Melendez-Cruz

My name is Christian Melendez-Cruz but everyone calls me Tian. I am in my third year of theology at Mundelein Seminary. I come from Puerto Rico and I have been living in the states for several years. I am a seminarian for the Diocese of Yakima in Washington State. With God’s help, I will be ordained a transitional deacon next May 2021 and a priest in May 2022. This year, I will be utilizing my academic background in clinical psychology during the remaining of the year.

I will be supporting Catholic Charities with Tele Mental Health Services in my diocese by delivering mental health services to potential clients and consultations to providers. Such services will be provided using secured and encrypted online software. I will also support the Hispanic community by recording a series of short videos that will focus on the development and application of coping skills surrounding Covid-19. As we continue to navigate in the nuances of the virus and its consequences in our liturgies, I hope to be able to see all of you in our wonderful St. Juliana. In the meantime, let’s hope for the best. Together, let us pray for the end of the pandemic and the resurgence of a better church.

20 Sep

Meet Seminarian Kevin Gregus

My name is Kevin Gregus and I am in Theology II, studying for the Archdiocese of Chicago. I grew up in Crystal Lake, IL. Prior to entering Mundelein Seminary, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in aerospace engineering. I worked for seven years as an engineer on Naval fighter aircraft and electronic systems for commercial airlines. I am a big sports fan (Cubs, Blackhawks, Bears, Michigan) and enjoy playing any sport I can, with hockey, golf, and baseball being my favorites. This will be my third year at Saint Juliana, and I’ll be doing my internship here next semester. I’m beyond excited to be spending another year at the best parish in the Arch!

Here is my new "Ask A Seminarian" 

Seminarian Kevin Gregus (Archdiocese of Chicago) recently hosted a Facebook live called “Ask a Seminarian” with his childhood parish St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church. This conversation ranges from his daily schedule in seminary to his favorite sports to faith-related questions. 

20 Sep

Meet Seminarian Lee Noel

My name is Lee Noel, and I am in my second year of school at Mundelein Seminary while discerning the priesthood for the Diocese of Cheyenne in Wyoming. My parents (both from Illinois: Rockford and Peoria!) gave my brothers Drew, Louis, and me a sturdy Catholic home and enrolled us in Catholic schools while growing up in Sioux City, Iowa, but unfortunately, I was too busy playing baseball, hockey, and cheering on the Iowa Hawkeyes to ever ask God what He wanted me to do with my life. That all changed after I moved to Wyoming in 2014 to attend graduate school and study entomology.

Our local church hosted a retreat that fall and when I went to Reconciliation there I felt a surge of warmth, like a merciful golden wave of joy rush through me. Pretty emotional, to say the least! I didn’t hear a call to the priesthood, but I knew I wanted to get more serious about our faith. After graduating in 2016 I worked for two years in Colorado where I lived with great buddies from our church, dated an awesome gal for a few months, and explored the mountains on the weekends… but I still felt like something was missing. The priests of Cheyenne inspired me to be open to discerning the priesthood, and I am very grateful for the privilege to spend time in prayer, fraternity, and studying at Mundelein in order to follow Mary and Jesus wherever they lead me.