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Merry Christmas from
Bishop Bob and Mission OLA!

December 2021

Dear Friends and Family,

Greetings and Merry Christmas from Chicago! It has been another blessed and busy year here at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels. Thanks to the generosity of so many of you, we remained a steady support for struggling families on the westside, providing them with fresh groceries, clothing, encouragement, and prayer as the pandemic has continued longer than anyone expected. While there are certainly signs of hope, the people in our neighborhood are still grappling with the devastating effects of the events of the last few years, and the level of need is as high as it has been since the Mission first opened.

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We have been processing 250,000 lbs. of food per month
November clothing distribution

Countless neighbors have shared with us that our weekly food pantry and monthly food & clothing distribution have truly been a God-send, giving their families the extra help they need to make ends meet. Right as the weather turned cold, one of our neighbors, a kind young man who had fallen on some hard times, came to our First Saturday Mobile Pantry in search of some warm clothing to help him get through the winter. One of our sisters showed him where the clothing was, and a short time later he came running back to her, sporting a new winter coat and a big smile on his face. He told her that he had begged God for a new coat to help survive the winter. With tears in his eyes, he looked down at his new coat and said that he knew that God had heard his prayer and truly cared for him. It is a gift to see God’s providential love manifest through the Mission, made possible by the generosity of so many.

 We are grateful to report that we were finally able to move our weekly food pantry inside the recently renovated first floor of our new mission outreach center (former school building). The 300+ families we welcome to our pantry each week are now able to enjoy our beautiful new dining room, restrooms, and pantry space designed to look like a neighborhood market.

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Indoor food pantry
Sr. Kate in one of the new retreat rooms

We have also been able to host our first official guests in the brand-new retreat space on the third floor of the building. Everyone who has stayed with us so far has given it top reviews! We look forward to hosting many more overnight retreat/volunteer groups in the 57 newly built and furnished bedrooms throughout the coming year. We are especially excited to host a preaching conference this spring to help kick off the USCCB’s Eucharistic Revival- a three-year nationwide initiative that will help our people reencounter the greatest treasure of our faith: the Eucharist. By hosting this event and others like it in our new space, we are achieving our goal to be a center for evangelization and revitalization in the life of the Church.

 As I continue to settle into my role as a bishop, finding ways to further the Church’s mission of evangelization has been one of my top priorities. To this end, our little Franciscan community has started to host what we call “Nights of Mercy” at local parishes. 

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Nights of Mercy

On these nights, Franciscans work together with parish staff and volunteers to offer beautiful evenings of Eucharistic Adoration and Confession, accompanied by contemplative music and hospitality. We also send out street evangelization teams to invite those passing by to come into the church to pray and light a candle. We hosted four of these Nights of Mercy in the fall and are looking forward to continuing and expanding this new outreach in the spring.20210916_094240-1

 We now have four sisters teaching religion in Catholic schools in the area around the Mission. Our goal is to focus on supporting under-resourced schools with solid catechesis to equip both students and staff to be faithful members of the Church.

 Beautiful fruits, such as parents and staff members requesting Confirmation, whole families of school-aged children being baptized together, and authentic encounters with the sacraments, have demonstrated that this outreach is very much needed.

This letter would not be complete without a brief update on the renovation of the former school building. Thanks to your incredible support, this multi-million dollar project is on track to be completed this spring. We are currently finishing the second-floor multi-purpose meeting/classroom/social service space and will soon be able complete the finishing touches. With that, we will be able to bring the construction project to an end and begin to use the entire building for our work of sharing the Gospel and caring for our neighbors.
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Almost-complete rooms on the 2nd floor of the former school!
The completion of this project could not come at a better time, as the need for evangelization and service to the poor is as high as ever. We greatly need our volunteers and continued monetary support to continue our mission. Please consider offering a Christmas donation to Mission OLA:
 
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Our Franciscan community continues to pray for all of you. Please keep praying for us, especially for vocations and for the young men and women that God is calling to join our community. Thank you for your continued generosity and support!

Merry Christmas and God bless!

 

Bishop Bob Lombardo
 
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Standing (L to R)- Sr. Emily, Br. Matt, Bishop Bob, Sr. Laura, Sr. Kate, Sr. Macey
Seated (L to R)- Sr. Jaime, Sr. Alicia, Sr. Stephanie