Pastor's Newsletter

The most recent Newsletters and Commentary from Father Harris

June 22, 2019

Mass Commentary

The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has proclaimed June 22nd as the beginning of Religious Freedom Week. Yesterday- as we officially began the summer season- with the Summer Solstice - which climaxes with Independence Day on July 4th- It seems like a fitting time- to reflect on what it means to be both American and Catholic. During our 40 Hours of Divine Mercy - which begins next Wednesday- June 26th- I would ask you to keep in your prayers our country, but also the States of Iowa and Illinois- that have embraced the way of godlessness, depravity and death.

June 21, 2019

Mass Commentary

In critical condition- weak and frail- this newly ordained priest- Fr. Michael Los offered his first Mass from his hospital bed- a dying wish fulfilled. That newly ordained priest died this week- on Monday 17th.

I can't help but to feel that the Jesuits have lost their way. In today's "Morning Glory" Show, they said that The Archdiocese of Indianapolis announced Thursday that a local Jesuit high school will no longer be recognized as a Catholic school, due to a disagreement about the employment of a teacher who attempted to contract a same-sex marriage. It seems to me that Pope Francis should spend less time crying out about climate change and more time addressing the goofiness in his own Jesuit Order. Especially when it comes to Fr. James Martin. What would St. Aloysius Gonzaga say to all of this?

Well, to be fair, Fr. James Martin did have some nice things to say about St. Aloysius. And the Vatican just issued a document condemning the teaching of the transgender ideology in Catholic Schools. So, that's something I guess. Oh, more reason to pray, pray, pray.

Next Wednesday, June 26th, we begin our "40 Hours of Divine Mercy" which includes offering up 40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration to the Lord. It is also an excellent opportunity to spend time listening to the Lord.

Fr. Charles Klamut, who will be giving a presentation on Saturday, June 30th, at 1:00 PM had a nice article about his newest music album that he produced.

June 20, 2019

Mass Commentary

This is a photo of me, Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, and Fr. Peter Zorjan. We all attended a brunch at Jaimie and Lewis Helmly's House on Friday, June 14, 2019. Several other parishioners were present, It was a conversation at this brunch which inspired this homily.

June 19, 2019

Mass Commentary

Please keep Rose Roe in your prayers. You see her in this photo with her husband Frank. Rose coordinates our Grade School Religious Education Program. She was intentionally tripped by a five year old at her daycare job on Monday, June 17th. At the ER they found that the ball in her shoulder socket is cracked. She said that she was thankful the shoulder did not separate from the neck. She is scheduled for surgery tomorrow, June 20th. Prayers needed. Thanks, Beri Dennhardt, Secretary

During the month of June and the first week of July I'm offering Mass at Ingersoll Scout Reservation on Sunday night, and Mass at Loud Thunder Scout Reservation on Tuesday night. Left and below, you see me offering the Scouts an additional dousing of Holy Water at the end of Mass as they are leaving. Believe it or not, most of the Scouts wait in line to receive this. I don't require them to get this additional hit of Holy Water.

June 18, 2019

Mass Commentary

Boy, I have been busy. That's why you haven't heard anything from me since June 13th. All last week we had Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers here giving a parish mission. Above and left are photos of the "Last Brunch" that we had with Deacon Harold. Tracy and Ron Downey and Nancy and Dick Day, and Linda Olson were kind enough to organize it and host it in the rectory.

A big thanks to all the folks that provided food for this event. And a big thanks to all the folks that gave of their time, talent, and resources in order to make this event a success.

I must admit that I am breathing a sigh of relief, but we can't get too comfortable. Deacon Harold's Parish Mission was just a warm-up for the big event.

June 13, 2019

Mass Commentary

To the left is a computer generated image of what scientists think St. Anthony of Padua actually looked like. The University of St. Anthony of Padua’s Anthropology Museum, together with a team of international forensic researchers, has attempted to reconstruct the face of St. Anthony using only a digital copy of his skull. Using the latest 3-D technology, the researchers worked to recreate the saint’s face, which they say is “one of the most faithful reconstructions of the face of St. Anthony.” St. Anthony is the saint that you pray to if you have lost something.

Above left are the remains of St. Anthony of Padua. I've been to Padua, and I've seen his tongue which is incorrupt.

Above right is a photo of an elaborate reliquary holding relic of St. Anthony. In this homily, Deacon Harold quoted St. Anthony on how Pentecost is being fulfilled.

Last night (June 12th) Deacon Harold gave a presentation about

June 12, 2019

Mass Commentary

Above left is a photo of Servant of God Fr. John Hardon. His cause for canonization has been introduced. I had the honor of attending one of his retreats. He was soft spoken, and monotonous at times. He is on the other end of the spectrum in comparison to Deacon Harold when it comes to the style of the presentation. But Fr. Hardon's theological content is excellent.

You would think that I would be quoting from Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers being that we have him here all week for a Parish Mission.

But I figure you have been hearing Deacon Harold loud and clear. So, as a change of pace I quoted from Fr. Hardon this morning, who had some good things to say about the Holy Spirit.

So, as a change of pace I quoted from Fr. Hardon, who was very soft spoken, but he had some good things to say about the Holy Spirit. In this homily I talk about the Holy Spirit's Gift of Counsel.

June 11, 2019

Mass Commentary

Deacon Harold preached this homily on Tuesday, June 11th. St. Barnabas was his starting point but he covered every possible evil that we are combating in our world. It was quite a litany. However, he forgot to mention "Drag Queen Story Hour" which was the big topic on the "Morning Glory" Show that morning. Surprisingly, he got all the controversial topics mentioned except for this one.

As we continue to bask in the afterglow of Pentecost, and we call to mind the example of St. Barnabas who was a true "Son of Encouragement" to St. Paul, we are mindful that the Holy Spirit enables us to be sources of encouragement for other people.

June 10, 2019

Mass Commentary

Pope Francis wanted today- the Monday after Pentecost- to be a special day in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of "Mary, Mother of the Church." So, why are we honoring her with this title, and why on the Monday after Pentecost?

June 9, 2019

Mass Commentary

Over 5,000 Rose Petals were released at the Solemn Vigil of Pentecost. This symbolized the Holy Spirit coming down in the form of tongues of flames upon the apostles.

I referred to three songs for Pentecost:

June 7, 2019

Mass Commentary

Above left is a depiction of St. Teresa of Avila writing her Rule of Life for the Discalced Carmelites. To the left is the Holy Spirit shining rays of inspiration upon her. To the right is Blessed Anne of St. Bartholomew,which I mention in my homily today, along with many other things.

Dear Monsignors/Priests,

Bishop Jenky has requested that I share with you this sad message. It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that Fr. Lopez passed away yesterday. The exact cause of his death is being determined. I ask that you offer prayers for him, his family and his parishioners. He served as pastor of St. Philomena, Monticello and St. Michael, Bement. Funeral arrangements are still pending.

Let us pray for each other during this time of loss.

Msgr. James E. Kruse

Vicar General

We have several things happening in June at St. John's, all of them are meant to be connected to each other. This big finale is of course is our 40 Hours of Divine Mercy:

Connected to the 40 Hours is our Vacation Bible School which runs from June 24th to the 28th:

Preparing us for our 40 Hours of Divine Mercy is the Parish Mission that we are having with Deacon Harold Burke Sivers which begins this Monday, June 10th

And it all starts with the Solemn Vigil of Pentecost which we are having at St. Mary's of Hampton on Saturday, June 8th, at 7:00 PM:

Now you might be thinking, "Why are they doing this?" Well, it's all in preparation for the patronal feast day of our parish, the Birthday of St. John the Baptist which is June 24th.

June 6, 2019

Mass Commentary

I suppose you could entitle this homily "Famous Storms That Changed History." Obviously, we in the Quad Cities are still preoccupied with the flooding and storms that have been plaguing us for over 50 days; over 120 days if you live on the Rock River.

But I am also mindful that it was on this day- June 6th- in 1944- 75 years ago today- that 160,000 Allied Soldiers stormed Normandy Beach- a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast in France.

Most of my homily deals with the storm that changed St. Norbert's life- the saint that the Church honors today on the liturgical calendar. St. Norbert didn’t start out as a reformer, but then something happened to him that changed the whole direction of his life. He ended up founding a Religious Order in 1120, called the Canons Regular of Premontre, better known as the "Norbertines."

Being St. Norbert had a great love for the Blessed Sacrament, as we prepare for our

which starts June 26th I prayer that our eyes- and the eyes of our fellow parishioners- would be opened to the wealth of spiritual graces that are available to us through the reception of the Eucharist but also that we would see the wealth of spiritual graces available to us in the adoration of the Eucharist.

First Friday Adoration

Tomorrow- Friday, June 7, 2019 at St. John

7:30 a.m. – Exposition Rosary and Morning Prayer

8:00 am – Mass, Act of Reparation, and Confessions

12:00 pm – Daytime Prayer, Mercy Chaplet & Benediction

Please call or e-mail Tracy Downey at or (309) 738-5272 to sign up for a half hour or an hour.

This is Fr. Kevin M. Cusick. I went to school with him at Mt. St. Mary's Seminary. We were both ordained in 1992: me for Peoria; him for Washington D.C. He would go on to serve as a chaplain in the military. But recently he stirred up a storm on the internet over telling women to dress appropriately for Mass, and boy they are going after him like mad hornets.

June 5, 2019

Mass Commentary

Above are photos of a tree that was taken down by the wind storm that we had last night. This tree is located next to the creek that runs behind the St. John's Rectory. As I type this there are a couple of guys with chain saws cutting up the wood. Maybe we need to pray for Deliverance from Storms. Here is a prayer for deliverance from the Antiochian Orthodox Website that I have slightly adapted to our situation:


As you saved your apostles from perishing in a storm by calming wind and waves on you command, so now keep us safe and sound as we continue to be threatened by flood, storm, and wind. Grant us favorable and benign weather. Protect us from the unpredictable elements of nature. Steer us from storm, flood, fire, illness, injury, disaster and sudden death. Preserve us from all evil and harm for we, though sinful, are nonetheless the work of Your hands. And You together with your Father who has no beginning and Your all holy good and life giving Spirit are our God in whom we live, move, and have being. Now and ever and unto ages and ages. Amen.


Seeing how your holy and powerful maternal intercessions can be a safe haven for the storm tossed, count us worthy of your prayers during this season of uncertain and threatening weather. Beg your divine human Son to grant us mercy, forgiveness, health, safety and salvation over the coming months. For He is sure to listen to you, His mother, the woman whom all generations call blessed. Amen.


As the Lord gave you control over droughts and rainfall to prove His power to the wayward and unbelieving, plead with Him to keep stormy weather, heavy rains and destructive winds away from us. Help us with your heavenly intercessions for we know the prayer of a righteous man like you is powerful and effective as God is wondrous in His Saints. Amen.

I find this fallen tree especially strange being that today the Church honors St. Boniface, being there is a legend about him cutting down an oak tree that was considered sacred by the pagans in a certain village in Germany.

The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways. Sometimes the Holy Spirit brings us consolation and healing. Other times, the Holy Spirit disturbs us by waking us up out of our spiritual sleepiness to yearn for something more. Sometimes the Holy Spirit disturbs us directly. Other times, the Holy Spirit moves us to disturb other people. And sometimes other people are called upon by the Holy Spirit to disturb us.

Today’s saint- St. Boniface - was called upon to disturb other people, and it ended up costing him his life. Above left is a depiction of St. Boniface chopping down the Sacred Oak Tree.

O Come, Blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold us in time of trouble and adversity, sustain our efforts in the pursuit of holiness, strengthen us in times of weakness and temptation, give us courage against all the assaults of our enemies- both angelic and human- that we may never be overcome and separated from You, our God, who is our greatest Good. We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

June 4, 2019

Mass Commentary

Francois continues to show a total disregard for the Pentecost Novena. Not even the fact that this is the The Month of the Sacred Heart seems to move him out of his spiritual apathy. Francois doesn't even care that we have come to the end of the the Supper Discourse, and that we are starting the Priestly Prayer of Jesus in terms of today's gospel reading for Mass. But I care.

Being the 5th day of our Pentecost Novena, let us pray for the Spirit guidance:

Come, Holy Spirit, Light immortal, light divine;Visit thou these hearts of thine, And our inmost being fill. Inspire our minds with love for the Word of God, And for the rich heritage of Tradition that clarifies the meaning of that word, Inspire in us a love for the people with whom we pray and worship and for those with whom we long to share the Good News At the heart of our Faith. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

June 3, 2019

Mass Commentary

Above are photos of Pauline and Norlyn Michel. They are part of a small group of people who help organize all these "Mission of Mercy" Events that we have at St. John's. Here are the big "Mission of Mercy" Events that are coming up:

"Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and You shall renew the face of the earth. We need more people like St. Paul the Apostle- like we hear about in our first reading. We need more people like St. Charles Lwanga and his companions. We need more of the faithful to take a risk and make personal contacts with people on behalf of the Church. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen."

I'm aware of at least four priests from Uganda who are serving in our diocese. From left to right:

Fr. Julius Turyatoranwa who serves at St. Patrick's in Washington and St. Monica's in East Peoria;

Fr. Deusdedit Myomuhangi who serves at United Samaritans Medical Center in Danville;

Fr. John Bosco Mujuni who serves of the pastor of the parishes in Lacon and Henry and chaplain to St. Joseph Nursing Home in Lacon.

There is also Fr. Rogers Myambaasa who serves at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Bloomington. Unfortunately, I could find online a photo of him. In the directory, I count at least 10 priests from Africa who are serving in our diocese.

June 2, 2019

Mass Commentary

For this Sunday, I gave a series of three homilies on the topic of the Ascension of the Lord.

June 1, 2019

Mass Commentary

On Pentecost Sunday we will use red vestments to remind us of the tongues of fire that came down upon the heads of the apostles. We use red color vestments also on Good Friday and for the Feast Days of the Martyrs: Red reminds us of Our Lord’s blood which he shed for our sins; Red reminds us of the blood shed by the martyrs as they attempted to witness to Christ.

The Red of the Holy Spirit and the Red of Martyrs are intimately connected. We see this especially with today’s saint. Today the Church honors St. Justin who was the first Christian philosopher who ended up being martyred around 165 AD.

False religions have been established on the promise of physical delights, on the premise that bodily pain can be imagined out of existence. The Christian religion alone is the tree that sprouts and grows from the seed of pain, watered by blood. "The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians."

Being Saturday, a day in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary I am reminded that the Church has crowned Mary- not only with a crown of twelve stars- but also with a crown of thorns. Even though she was not executed for being a Christian, we consider her the Queen of Martyrs. With great sympathy- we could shed buckets of tears over her horrible sorrows that she experienced- but if the truth be known- it would bring her more consolation- to her Immaculate Heart - if we would refrain from just one venial sin.

Above are photos of the Statue of Our Lady of Fatima that is the focus of our new "Patio for Mary." We have installed the lighting to the area, but we are still working to improve it. But I like how it is all the same.

May 31, 2019

Mass Commentary

The Holy Spirit helps us to read "in between the lines" of a given situation, and empowers us to respond in an appropriate way. The Blessed Virgin Mary could teach us about this. To the left is a photo of our statue of Mary which is in St. John's Church in Rapids City. Lisa Fox has decorated this statue in preparation for the upcoming Feast of Pentecost.

May 30, 2019

Mass Commentary

Today, Thursday, May 30th is the traditional day of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, the 4th Glorious Mystery of the Rosary. In our diocese, the liturgical celebration of the Ascension has been moved from Thursday to Sunday. June 2nd.

In most of the United States, the Ascension is transferred to the following Sunday (which would otherwise be the Seventh Sunday of Easter). It is only celebrated as a holy day of obligation on Thursday in the ecclesiastical provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha, and Philadelphia, as well as by members of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter.

While I’m sad and disappointed that the U.S. Bishops of our province made this decision, it does give me the opportunity to continue my exploration of the Last Supper Discourse, and to talk about one of my favorite saints- St. Joan of Arc.

Today the Catholic Church honors St. Joan of Arc, a seventeen year old girl called to become an army general, leading the French Army into battle against the foreign occupation of English forces.

The Holy Spirit has incorporated all of us into the Bride of Christ, which is the Mother Church. But it would be a mistake to think that the Bride of Christ is some fragile damsel in distress. Mother Church is the Warrior Bride given the sword of the Spirit, and she follows Christ into battle. The more we are in contact with the Holy Spirit, the more the Warrior Bride of Christ radiates through us. We see the warrior bride showing herself in St. Joan of Arc; we see her in every person who is willing to fight for the cause of Christ.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.