Letters From a Pastor to His People

  • 05 July 2020 | By

    Letters from a Pastor to His People- July 5, 2020


    Dear Parishioners,

    If you missed my bulletin letter from last week, I explained how I am away currently and will be for the entire month of July making a 30-Day Retreat.  Just a reminder, I will not respond to any messages, so if there is an emergency, please contact the parish office or Father Emanuel. I wrote this week’s letter, and the upcoming letters, ahead of time, just to offer a little spiritual reflection on the readings.  I would also, however, like to provide some wisdom from St. Ignatius of Loyola.  Perhaps you could do a little "30-Day Retreat" with me.

29 Jul

Luann Bobko

Bring yourself to Church… and take Church back home with you. Mass ends, but Church does not.
There are many things you can take with you. Something you can feel… holy water on your fingertips; a
priest’s handshake. Something you can read… a Sunday Bulletin; a “3-C’s” book selection. Something
you can remember… a great Homily. Sit and listen, really listen… maybe close your eyes to not be
distracted. Don’t think about where you’re going after Mass, or what’s for dinner. We have many great
homilies… keep them with you! You may remember a few that began with golf anecdotes, characters
from “Peanuts” comic strip, or great tales from India. Here are a few that have stayed with me for a
very long time (thanks Fr. Art!)
We’re all connected. Have you spoken to someone you know, and found out you have something in
common that you did not know about? Maybe you grew up in the same parish or went to the same high
school… there’s a connection. Do you see the same people at Sunday Mass? You are all in the same
church, sitting in your usual places… there’s a connection. Did you randomly help a stranger, or donate
anonymously to a charity? There’s a connection.
We’re not okay, but that’s okay with God. If you ever feel inadequate or doubt yourself… that’s okay.
If you have a hard time making certain decisions in life and ask for help… that’s okay. If you don’t feel
worthy or good enough for certain ministries, sign-up anyway… that’s okay. We are made in God’s
image, but we are not perfect… that’s okay.
Do you want to make God laugh? Write something on your Calendar! I’m old-fashioned and still have
a large wall calendar, LOL :) To this day, I hesitate when lifting a page to write on the next month! OMG,
am I jinxing myself? How can I plan something way in advance? God is definitely laughing… only He
knows what I’ll really be doing that day. However, I try to stay positive (& organized) and keep writing…
and hope & pray for the best!
Bring yourself to Church… we’re just not a family without you.

Luann Bobko is “semi-retired” from the Printing/Graphics field, and is a 32-year S.J. parishioner, with
her husband Mike (ret. CPD) & daughter Janine (SJS ’95).

22 Jul

Barb Ernat

Throughout my life the frequency of my Mass attendance has varied. Growing up Catholic, my family
attended church regularly. My college and my early adult-post college life led me to many different
cities. Although my faith traveled with me the frequency of my Mass attendance became less.
However, when I moved to Chicago in my mid- twenties, many miles away from family and friends, I felt
a void in my life. I knew what I needed to fill that void, and that was to get back to church.

Luckily, in Chicago, neighborhood churches were as abundant as neighborhood bars: there seemed to be
one on every corner. Coming from a small town where we had only 2 Catholic churches, the abundance
of churches was refreshing but at the same time overwhelming. Much like those neighborhood bars, I
was searching for one where I might fit in, where there were people like me, and where some day
everyone might know my name (well, at least a few). I am blessed to say in the last 20 years spent in
Chicago that I have been a member of two great congregations, one of which is now St. Juliana.

Throughout my spiritual journey attending Mass became not so much an obligation but an invitation. It
became a springboard from which my faith leaps from each week. As I walk through the doors of the
church, I look up to the Lord and say here I am; filled with insecurities, worries and intentions and also
my gratitude toward you. I know I am surrounded by a faith community who, like me, carry their own
burdens. There is a sense of kinship and a feeling that we are all in this together, and that brings
comfort to me. The words spoken and the homilies said renew me and prepare me to go love and serve
the Lord in the week ahead. And I know myself and my family is better for it.


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.

15 Jul

Father Roger Caplis

Twenty-one years ago I attended a wake service for Cardinal Bernardin at Holy Name Cathedral. I asked
a priest friend if there were any interesting openings for priests on the north side. He mentioned Saint
Juliana and introduced me to Fr. Dressler. I knew Fr. Phil, and he asked me to visit him at the parish and
we’d talk over lunch at the Evanston Golf Club. We never did the lunch, but he encouraged me to apply.
I did, and the rest is history.
Why I am still here is an interesting question (at least to me). I was fortunate to live with good
priests, who were also good friends, as pastors. Fr. Ahearn had recently retired and still lived here. Fr.
Phil and I disagreed on occasion, but he had a big heart. Fr. Steve was a former student of mine in the
seminary, a good cook, and very capable. Fr. Beaven, a friend from our seminary teaching days, was a
pleasant surprise for a year. Fr. James arrived as a force of nature, whose prayerfulness and zeal are a
challenge to my old bones. He does everything in overdrive.
When I arrived, following Fr. Art Fagan was a challenge. His shoes were hard to fill. But in time,
many parishioners said they were glad I was here and some added that Fr. Art was the first priest they
had ever known.
Our staff has always been a pleasure to work with. They encouraged me to keep attending staff
meetings after I retired in order to keep up with what was happening in the parish, and because they
knew I could get Fr. Phil to laugh when things got tense.
Over the years, the feedback that I have received made feel that I have helped many parishioners
feel the presence of Jesus in their trials and tribulations. Saint Juliana has been a good place for me to
live and serve before going home to the Lord (but not too soon!).

Father Roger Caplis has been a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago for 60 years and the retired
associate pastor of Saint Juliana for the past 21 years.

08 Jul

Daniel J. O'Shaughnessy

When Fr. James asked if I would submit for the weekly "Christ in Chicago" column, I felt both honored
and apprehensive.  It was great to be recognized as a decent parishioner that might have something
worthwhile to share.  It was not so great, because I am fully aware that my life and my relationship with
Jesus Christ are imperfect and very much works in progress.  Despite feeling unqualified and entertaining
a few thoughts of "Sorry Father, I'm too busy", I decided to accept the offer and give it my best shot.  My
dilemma then became what to write.  After quiet reflection, I decided to put down on paper why attending
Mass is important to me.
Regular Mass attendance provides my wife, four children, and I with several important, life-enhancing
benefits.  It gives us a chance to show our devotion, commitment, and gratitude to God.  It gives us the
opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of our Roman Catholic faith and tradition.  It presents us
with gentle reminders to reject selfish thoughts and to show compassion for the less fortunate. Finally, it
provides us with the opportunity to stay connected to a vibrant community of families that share a rich
history of sacramental celebrations, service activities, educational experiences, and memorable social
In all honesty, my attitude towards Mass attendance has not always been as clear as it is today.  It has
developed over the years.  Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to witness the commitment that my
Irish father and German mother have to their faith tradition.  They always say that going to church on
Sunday is not an optional activity.  It took me years to understand that this statement is not about
following a rule, but rather about not leaving out a key ingredient for achieving a rich, faith-filled life.

Daniel J. O'Shaughnessy, married to Heide and a father of four SJS graduates (Josie, Des, Neil,
and Brendan), is a Civil Engineer at the Federal Aviation Administration and has been a
parishioner at Saint Juliana for 23 years.

01 Jul

Father Emanuel Torres-Fuentes

My name is Jesus Emanuel Torres-Fuentes, 39 years old and I am originally from Veracruz, Mexico. I was born on December 25, on Christmas day. For this reason, I have these two sacred names. In Mexico, it is very common to use those sacred names, it is cultural. Please call me Father Emanuel with your beautiful American accent. I love it. My parents along with my two sisters and one brother live in Veracruz, Mexico. Regarding my priesthood, I was ordained as a priest on May 19, 2018 at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. I will be your associate pastor in order to exercise my ministry working with the different parish groups, preaching at Sunday Masses and celebrating the sacraments. I am happy to be here in this beautiful community sharing the faith. After my priesthood ordination, I traveled to Mexico to celebrate the Eucharist with my family and friends. Thank you, all the parishioners of Saint Juliana and Father James Wallace, for your prayers. I will keep you in my prayers.

I want to share with you something interesting about me:

  • At the age of eight, I used to serve as an altar server in three or four Masses every weekend. In fact, the pastor of my parish used to go to other small towns to celebrate Mass and I used to go with him as an altar server.
  • My grandmother (mom’s mother), Macaria Trevino taught me to pray with the Scriptures, to visit the sick, to feed the hungry, and to say the rosary. She passed away 18 years ago, I believe that she keeps praying for my vocation and I am sure that she accompanied me in my priesthood ordination.
  • Before entering the seminary, I studied Spanish grammar for 5 years at Veracruz University to teach children and adults at the different levels of education.
  • While studying for a teaching career, I was invited to a weekend retreat to have a spiritual encounter with Jesus Christ.
  • After that spiritual retreat, I was invited to be part of a group parish at the Cathedral in city to give catechesis to adult people and to oversee the youth; I was also involved in liturgy, and I was a lector.
  • The next year. I was part of the team to prepare the retreat for the new people. During that weekend, I remember, I was 24, and I was serving as an altar server and it was during consecration that I heard a deep and solid voice that said to me: “be a priest” and I answered, “Yes, I want to be a priest.” In this way, I felt called to become a priest without hesitation.
  • When I finished my studies, I entered the seminary to study philosophy for four years. After those fruitful years at the seminary, I decided to leave it for definite period of two years. So, I got a good job as a professor of discipline at private secondary school.
  • At that time during the period of my job, I received a tourist visa to travel to the U.S.A. and came to Chicago for one month to visit my cousin who lives in the Little Village neighborhood. I remember that every day I attended Mass at 8:00 a.m. and then I had my Holy Hour at the adoration chapel. I really enjoyed being in the presence of God and I was grateful for that opportunity to know this beautiful country. Without noticing, those Masses and Holy Hours at the parish yielded good spiritual results.
  • It turns out that on my third weekend in Chicago, on a Sunday, at the end of the Spanish Mass, an usher, a tall, 30-year-old white guy with a beard approached to me to give me a bulletin and asked me some questions: Are you a seminarian? Are you a priest? Are you looking for the pastor? I just said: “I am a tourist and I came to visit a relative, and next week I will go back to Veracruz because I will start my second year of working at a school.” And he said to me: “It would be great if you could come to serve the Archdiocese of Chicago. We need vocations for the people of God. Think about it.
  • After that encounter, I started the process to be accepted at Casa Jesus,which invites Latinos to serve this Archdiocese. In this way, I came to Chicago to serve the Archdioceses of Chicago. In this context, the Word of God has been done present in my life: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the LORD” Isaiah 55:8. 

Father Emanuel Torres-Fuentes is a newly ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Chicago and is beginning his first assignment as the associate pastor of St. Juliana Parish.