St Joseph and St Mary Parishes in Freeport, IL

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Presence St Joseph Auxiliary Spring Luncheon

Meet your friends! Enjoy great food! Support a worthy cause by attending the Presence St Joseph Auxiliary Annual Spring Luncheon this Tuesday, April 24 from 11:00am to 1:00pm at St Thomas Aquinas Church, 1400 Kiwanis Dr., Freeport, IL.
Tickets are $9.00 and will be sold at the door. Carry-outs will be available. Thank you for your support!


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Bible: Acts of the Apostles #12

As Paul and Timothy were singing and praying in the jail, there came an earthquake that jarred the doors and chains loose (Acts 16:26). The guard was about to kill himself when Paul told him not to. Sounds like a strange thing on two accounts: first, why would a guard try killing himself; and second, Paul was comforting the guard.
I will start with the second issue, Paul comforting the guard. It illustrates for us Paul’s love for the guard. He is being detained for evil purposes. But this does not hinder Paul’s concern for the well-being of the guard. This leads us to the next issue.
On the first issue, Roman guards were killed if they found their captors gone. It would be a disgrace to them and their families if anybody got loose. It would be a torturous death at that. So many would kill themselves rather than go through that. It actually became more honorable to kill yourself. This man was as good as dead. But then he asks, “What must I do to be saved?” (verse30).
Notice Paul’s response. Paul says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved” (Acts 16:31). The first thing we need to do is believe in the Lord Jesus.
So the first thing the Apostles need to do is preach the Gospel message. Without the Gospel message, we would never know what to believe. Notice also that they do not give them a bible, but rather speak the words to them that Jesus himself taught and did. Because of their preaching, they want to be baptized (v33). Such a great interaction comes here. They are baptized. The guard and his whole household.
Now imagine this: the guard was going to kill himself. He was as good as dead. Paul brings him back to his house alive. How grateful the whole household must have been. That guard was probably the sole means of making money. That one life affected many other people. Before the baptism, they washed Paul and Silas’ wounds. They feel the need to make things right. They are willing to accept the responsibility for what has happened to them. Then Paul baptizes them. Since the whole household was baptized, it is traditionally assumed that babies were baptized with them. All the people in the house accept Jesus in their lives that day by virtue of their baptism.
Only after the baptism do they celebrate. Why? It seems that they would have accepted Jesus in their lives before they were baptized. What makes them feel the need to be baptized? We see this constantly in the Acts of the Apostles. Only after the baptism is there any mention of “joy” and “newfound faith” (v34). Something very real has happened. Only after the baptism do we find the fruits of the Holy Spirit and the theological virtues. They are changed from within. True and lasting happiness enters into their lives.
The overview of this baptism is that they preach to them and then they get baptized. The preaching must happen first because the preaching explains why you would want to be baptized. It is the faith that inspires a person to want to be baptized, so the faith leads to baptism. Baptism makes you Children of God and the offering of eternal life gives hope, even in suffering.
So are Paul and Silas released from jail? No. Paul goes and baptizes the whole household of the guard who beat them, and Paul does not assume that he will be released. He knows that if he is gone, the guard would still be killed. Paul loves the guard and his household and does not want them to perish. He voluntarily goes back to the jail.


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St. Vincent de Paul – Aryl Dailey Free Community Lunch April 21

The next Aryl Dailey Free Community Lunch will be Saturday, April 21 from 11:30am to 1:00pm in Berg Hall. This will be the final lunch of the season; we will resume the monthly meals in October. Items needed are: apples, oranges and cookies/brownies. If you can donate any of these items, please contact Mary Koppi at 815-232-4687. We will also be collecting household cleaning items and these may be brought to Berg Hall after 9:00 on the 21st. One hundred twenty-two meals were provided at the March lunch. We consistently provide over one hundred meals each month and we could not continue this service without your continued support. Thank you to all who give of their time each month to prepare and serve the meals, to deliver meals to the homebound, and to donate fruit and cookies and other supplies. You have touched the lives of many in our community through your generosity.


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Vocation Corner: Jesus Knows the Next Step

It amazes me that just about every time Jesus appeared to His followers after His Resurrection they did not recognize Him.  Even after spending so much time learning from Him and following Him, they still could not tell who He was when He came to them.  I believe that at least part of the explanation for this is that they were becoming too focused on themselves after the death of Jesus.  After He died, we can certainly imagine that they must have been very scared and unsure about how to move forward in their lives.  It was at this point that they put it upon themselves to find the next right step, rather than placing their trust in the plan of Jesus.  In fact, they did this so to such an extent that even when Jesus Himself appeared to them, they could not recognize that it was Him and that He had everything in control.  It is easy to fall into the same trap in our own lives, especially when it comes to discerning a vocation.  Trying to find your vocation can be a difficult and stressful thing at times.  However, the last thing we ever want to do is take the matter into our own hands and feel like we have to be the ones to figure everything out.  Jesus already has the plan!  All we have to do is trust in Him.  Rather than getting too turned in on ourselves, we need to surrender everything, especially our whole future, to Jesus and simply be calm while He makes Himself known to us.  We do not want to miss the Will of Jesus in our lives.  Be calm, trust in Him, and always be open to recognizing Him no matter what circumstances you are facing in your life.  ​

– Fr. Bobby Gonnella