by Rick Cheek
“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you.”
— St. John Paul II
That quote from St. John Paul II came to mind a couple of weeks ago during Mass on the 15th anniversary of my oldest son Jared’s death.
I couldn’t help but think it is Jesus who we should be seeking, especially during the difficult moments we have encountered these past six months.
Walking across Mundelein campus the night of Jared’s death, looking up to the heavens, I remember just saying to God, “I really don’t understand this; but you are God.” I remember thinking of all Job went through, yet still putting his trust in God.
There have been many challenges that have tested our faith over the last six months, especially with the closing of our parishes to get things under control.
Families created amazing prayer spaces and altars and screens to livestream Masses to still get the feel of sitting in the pew. Now as guidelines are being lifted, it’s time to go back . . . and wearing a mask is a small sacrifice to be able to attend Mass and publicly live our faith.
If there’s one thing that this pandemic has done, it has brought many families closer together. Families have spent more time than ever before at the dinner table getting to know each other. They have spent time going on walks around their neighborhoods and local parks.
This has been new to a lot of us. However, as things gradually start to open back up, this should be a time where we keep doing many of the things we’ve done over the last few months and prioritize our focus on our family.
Under guidance from the archdiocese, the youth office has made adjustments as well, keeping as our priority assisting young people in their search for Jesus.
We modified camp to fit social distancing guidelines, which was a huge success. Prairie Star Ranch instituted Open Gate Saturdays for families to spend time together in a prayerful space.
Although the Vatican rescheduled WYD in Lisbon, Portugal, for 2022, the youth office is still doing our yearly pilgrimage walk to spiritually prepare.
This year’s pilgrimage is on Oct. 3. We walk from St. Patrick Church, Emerald, to Prairie Star Ranch in Williamsburg.
We made the difficult decision not to take a delegation to the March for Life in January 2021. But this opens up the possibility for teens to attend the Rally for Life in Topeka.
Teens Encounter Christ will provide a small group retreat experience for high schoolers in January as well, following social distancing and other safety procedures.
As we navigate life with Covid-19 as part of the equation, we need to keep before us the priority of walking with Jesus, taking opportunities to seek him and developing new habits that keep him at the center of our every day.
One day, we can reflect back on this moment in history and realize it wasn’t so difficult, because we chose to keep God at the center.