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Dan Snow

You might have missed a recent Chicago Tribune article on Father Augustus Tolton, who took a big step forward towards canonization this year. Father Tolton remains a powerful figure for many black American Catholics, but his name is not widely known, a regretful fact here in Chicago, where he left a lasting legacy. His story is worth knowing because it demonstrates that while some of the individuals who form the Church can fail, there are many others who make it a force for good and help to redeem it.

Born a slave in 1854 to a Catholic family in Missouri, Tolton’s family escaped to Quincy, Illinois. Growing up in Quincy, he dealt with discrimination, even when he decided to join the priesthood. Denied entry to American seminaries due to his skin color, Tolton pushed on, traveling to Rome for his studies. Ordained and sent back to Illinois (where racist persecution continued), he’d make his way to Chicago in 1889 and would establish the city’s first parish for the then marginalized black community. In July 1887, a few short years after the parish opened, Fr. Tolton passed out from a heatstroke and died at the age of 43.

Tolton’s legacy has not been overlooked in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood, where his work continues in Catholic Charities’ Father Augustus Tolton Peace Center. There, aid workers, counselors, and volunteers heal wounds, help the needy, and assist those struggling through violence, poverty, and other ailments. Their work shows the power for social justice and equality in Catholicism, work that has been ongoing in some form for centuries and that we sometimes lose sight of. Tolton would have been proud that his work of serving the marginalized continues in Chicago and we should be proud to claim his legacy.

Augustus Tolton was born as someone’s property and had his faith chosen by those who claimed ownership of him. There were Catholic lay people and priests who showed him nothing but contempt and hate, contradicting their own morals and values. Yet, Tolton kept his faith and chose to dedicate himself to the Church, going on to improve the lives of many throughout his lifetime, with the support of others in his community and beyond. Tolton shows that while the Church can inflict harm when corrupted by those who ignore its teachings, it can be used for immense good by those who honor its true principles.

Dan Snow works in corporate communications and has been a parishioner at St. Juliana for 13 years.

 

 

 

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Barb Ernat

Throughout one's spiritual journey there are often significant life-events that test our relationship with God. Often times when we are faced with a devastating setback we think that God has abandoned us and often get angry with God.

6 years ago I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s disease, and as so many caregivers experience, the journey was very challenging for our family.  As I cared for my mother I was dealing with some challenges of my own.  I often found myself asking: Why me? Why us? Why, God, are you giving me more than I can bear?

I found comfort from Robin Roberts, of Good Morning America, in her book “Everybody’s Got Something”.  She reminds readers that everyone carries burdens and hardships.   For her it was a harrowing medical diagnosis and the subsequent difficult journey through it.  Her journey was hard but there were so many that gave her hope.  In her words, everyone’s got something, but everyone’s got something to give as well.  

What I realized as I looked back at my own challenges is that all the times that I thought God wasn’t there he was actually revealing himself through so many people in my life.  It was my circle of friends, family and even strangers who gave so much; they made me realize that God was indeed everywhere around me.

As Christians we are called to carry out God’s work so that in someone’s darkest days they are able to see God through us and have hope that there are better days ahead.

A faith community brings a sense of kinship, a comfort of knowing that we are all in this together.  Maybe this Sunday you came to church with something to give or maybe you came to find hope.   Each Sunday we get an invitation to receive a smile, a kind word, an uplifting scripture, a heartfelt homily.  Sometimes we don’t even realize we need these unintentional gifts.  But they are here for the taking. 

Barb Ernat, a mom to St. Juliana preschoolers Tom and Jack, works in corporate marketing and together with her husband Ray have been members of St. Juliana for the last two years.  

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Marty Koegler, 8th Grade

Hello,

My name is Marty Koegler and I am an eighth grade student here at St. Juliana. There are many things that St. Juliana has given me throughout the nine years that I have been here. This place has taught me many important skills that I incorporate in my daily life and will need in order to lead a successful life. I am very grateful that I have had the opportunity to be a part of the St. Juliana community.

One of the many, many opportunities that this school has given me is an amazing education. At St. Juliana I have learned many awesome things in every class such as math, reading, English, social studies (history), science, vocabulary, and religion. Another great aspect of this school is the amount of service opportunities and projects that you can participate in. In seventh grade a bunch of my friends and I went to St. Ben’s Nursing Home every Monday for my Confirmation service project. Seeing the smiles on the peoples’ faces when we hung out and talked with them was truly heartwarming. The amount of outstanding stories that they have from their lives and their experiences are uncountable. For example, some of them are war veterans that have great stories from the war that they served in, protecting our country and our freedom. 

Also, this school has many after school extra curricular activities that are available to all ages of students. I played football for four years, basketball for four years, I’m playing my second year of volleyball later this year, and I have been altar serving since the summer before seventh grade. At St. Juliana I have made amazing friendships that I will look forward to keeping throughout the next phase of my life, high school at Notre Dame College Prep. My friends have taught me how to do many things such as being loyal and having other peoples’ backs during times of need. I am very happy and grateful that I have them by my side.

Lastly, I would like to thank the parishioners for their financial support because without them our tuition would be much higher. I would also like to thank all of my teachers and coaches for helping me every step of the way, whether it be with sports or education. They always have my back and if we need extra help they are always there. My coaches take precious time out of their days to practice with us. Lastly, I would like to thank my parents for EVERYTHING they’ve done for me. They have made countless sacrifices for me to be able to attend a Catholic School. My mom works almost every day and my dad works two jobs to be able to support a family, all with Catholic grammar school educations. I don’t know where I’d be in life if it wasn’t for them and I am very grateful for every little thing that they have done for me. This school is my second home and I love it and am going to miss it very, very much. 

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