From Our Pastor: 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I write to you with a sad and heavy heart. This past week on Monday January 23, 2023, Bella Arisman, my beloved dachshund died. We put her down that morning and buried her here at St. Francis Solanus in her fenced in area in the back yard. I am tremendously heartbroken, although improving. I apologize for any delays in response or calls or visits or meetings as honestly, I have been just unable to do much more than cry and mourn her death. She went with me everywhere and did most everything with me, so there is no escaping the constant reminder of her absence. You have no idea how much she loved being here at St. Francis. She LOVED going to the school and over to parish functions. She loved being around everyone and getting all the attention and love you have given here these past couple of years of being here together. She loved the office staff, and I can’t thank them enough for all they did to care for her and keep her company when I was busy. I must especially thank Yukari Shindo, our parish cook, for taking such good care of Bella both here at the house, and she would watch her when I was away and needed it. Bella loved her so much. I thank my parents for dropping everything to come care for her until I could get home to see her, as she was not well the last couple days of the march for life and travel home. Monday things took a major turn for the worse and it was clear she wasn’t going to pull through. Thank you to all the office staff that gathered and helped me bury her. Thank you to Fr. Zach Samples the parochial vicar and my good friend for being so caring and supportive, especially for being here and making sure I was eating. I am so grateful for the immense outpouring of love to myself and Bella and the immense stories from people about her, both here In Quincy, but also my previous assignments in the Decatur area. My people from Mt. Zion, OLHS and St. Isidore, Bethany, and St. Teresa High School in Decatur, love her and her shenanigans and she loved them. My heart is broken, but your love and prayers help heal it. I will get better, but it hurts right now. I will heal, but I won’t forget her. These have been a truly blessed six years with my little buddy, although her first years before me were awful, I am so happy to have shown her how loved she should have been. Bella was about 11-12 years old. She was abused and neglected as a puppy mill and was going to be put down because they couldn’t breed her anymore. That is when God brought her into my life as the gift she was from the beginning. She couldn’t walk and was in terrible health when I got her, but we were able love her back to good health. I am just so pleased she was able to be with me as long as she was. Thank you Lord for the gift she is to me.
March for Life was a phenomenal experience, and I hope we as a parish will start to connect with that event and head to DC in larger numbers to continue our work of witnessing to life, as well as participate in the march for life here in our backyard in the state of Illinois, as we have a lot to do to overturn the horrific laws of the state of Illinois burdening women with the “choice” that doesn’t give them freedom, but instead burdens them with a decision that is unfathomable, and often overwhelming feeling pushed into ending the life of their child. Let’s continue to support the right to life and the work of the Birthright Center and Right to Life of Adams County here in our area.
This weekend we focus on being a faithful remnant. This means the few left behind that are truly loyal and faithful to the Lord. Paul tells us it is in our weakness that God shows through in the work He does through each of you. How do we live out this faithful remnant we are called to as the weak doing grand things, the beatitudes. So let us be a faithful people who live out this playbook of holiness, we call the beatitudes.
Now to continue our Tolton Image explanation: Above and behind Father Tolton is a set of arches. Within church architecture, arches make visible the idea of the heavens reaching down to earth. The ones in this painting are not meant to imply real space but to provide a meaningful format to relate Tolton’s story.
St. Peter can be seen to the right of the inner arch to recognize that Tolton was baptized in St. Peter’s Church in Brush Creek, Missouri, and attended St. Peter’s Church and school in Quincy. It was here that he was encouraged and guided in discerning the priesthood. On the opposite side of the arch stands St. Joseph, acknowledging St. Joseph Church in Quincy where Tolton served as pastor several years later. Below St. Peter and St. Joseph are images representing Tolton’s secondary education. The Tau cross represents St. Francis Solanus College (now Quincy University), which at that time was a branch of our St. Francis Solanus Parish and the bee is a design that can be found on the crest of the Urbanium, where Tolton received seminary formation and training in Rome.
Above St. Joseph and St. Peter, the prominent design, which resembles an accordion, is taken from a pattern also found in St. John Lateran Church, Rome. It is also included to acknowledge Father Tolton’s musical abilities – he knew how to play the Accordion and is said to have had a beautiful singing voice.
The accordion stretches out on either side of a square shaped cross with a circle inscribed in its center. An alpha and omega are found inside the circle, closely matching a design found on a stained-glass window on the north side of St. Francis Solanus Church. The alpha and the omega are also found on the doors of the tabernacle and on the pipes of the organ in St. Francis Solanus Church. The alpha and omega were chosen to remember that in all things and in all times, including Tolton’s, Christ is the beginning and the end. This is painted to have visual prominence compared to the colors around it, emphasizing that Jesus is the pinnacle and focus.
-Rev. Steven Arisman