“Welcome Back Weekend” at Mendota-area parishes includes ‘1,000 Acts of Kindness’

After processing out of Holy Cross Church in Mendota, Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka poses for a photo with Father Peter Pilon (right), pastor, and Father Jeff Windy (left), parochial vicar, as well as the altar servers for the "Welcome Back" Mass. A social followed. (Provided photo/Suzie Fritz)

MENDOTA — As a way to invite people to return to church for Mass — and bring others with them — the Mendota Catholic Parishes hosted a Welcome Back Weekend at the end of September. Among those who received an invitation for the Mass and social that followed was Coadjutor Bishop Louis Tylka.

He concelebrated the bilingual Mass with Father Peter Pilon, pastor of Holy Cross in Mendota, Sts. Peter and Paul in Peterstown, and St. Theresa in Earlville, and Father Jeff Windy, parochial vicar.

Jan Kahl of the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen Evangelization Team for the Mendota Catholic Churches, greets Bishop Tylka during the “Welcome Back” celebration at Holy Cross Church on Sept. 26. (Provided photo/Suzie Fritz)

In preparation for the celebration, parishioners were asked to look for ways to do “1000 Acts of Kindness” in their daily lives and record them on the website of Holy Cross Parish in Mendota. Bishop Tylka praised the effort, encouraging them to continue until it becomes a way of life.

“It’s the call of the disciple,” he told those gathered at Holy Cross Church on Sept. 26. “And do so in a way that each and every one of you witnesses your belief in Jesus.”

All of us have been given the grace of the Spirit, no matter where we are, Bishop Tylka reminded them.

“That is a gift that enlivens us. It is a gift we then use to give witness to our faith,” he said. “This is not just the task of priests, or the bishop, or religious.”

The goal is to proclaim our faith in actions as well as words, such as kindness, love and forgiveness. These reveal our faith in the Lord, Bishop Tylka said.

Another goal must be to work together, according to the bishop.

“We’ve got to work in a way that shows all of us who profess faith in Jesus are together in the mission that he has given us,” he said, urging them to reject the world’s “us versus them” mentality.

“The Lord came to save us all. The Lord’s love is for all. The Lord’s mercy is for all. The Lord’s kindness is for all,” Bishop Tylka said.

NEARING KINDNESS GOAL

The 1000 Acts of Kindness initiative was the brainchild of Tom Schuler, who maintains the parish website. As of Sept. 26, the parishes had logged about 500 acts of kindness.

Leticia Angulo proclaims the second reading at the bilingual “Welcome Back” Mass at Holy Cross Church in Mendota Sept. 26. (Provided photo/Suzie Fritz)

A recent check showed that parishioners had done as Bishop Tylka suggested and continued to look for ways to do small things to benefit others, with 720 acts of kindness recorded. An encouraging message at mendotacatholic.org noted that “all we need is 47 people recording two acts a week for three weeks” to reach the goal.

Parish bulletins offered a sampling of what people have done, including pulling weeds in front of a neighbor’s house, speaking words of encouragement to a high school student to return to Catholic services at one of the Mendota-area churches, comforting a dying neighbor, and giving a ride to someone who had many bags of groceries.

Brian Corrigan, director of religious education at Holy Cross in Mendota and a member of the Venerable Fulton J. Sheen Evangelization Team, said they had sent out 1,200 to 1,300 personal invitations to parishioners to attend the “Welcome Back” celebration. In addition to bolstering in-person Mass attendance instead of people relying on virtual liturgies, the group wanted to reach out to fallen away and lapsed Catholics.

He credited team member Jan Kahl as “the driving force and organizer extraordinaire” for the day. Joining her in putting the celebration together were Andy Wujek, Tom Heitmann, Tom Schuler, Father Pilon, Father Windy, and Corrigan.

The food for the social was provided by Sullivan’s — with “ice cream for every child” from Schwan’s, Corrigan said. There were also games for all ages.

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