Scenes from Santacruzan
Scenes from the parish Santacruzan festival on Saturday, May 20. This Filipino festival honors the Blessed Virgin Mary and commemorates the finding of the True Cross by St. Helena. Thank you to the Filipinos of St. Gregory for hosting this event each year - the 35th year this year!
Filipinos of St. Gregory
Hermanos and Hermanas 2023
We are very happy to welcome our new pastor Fr. Alejandro Lopez, OFM Conv., to Mary, Mother of God parish! He comes to us from Our Lady of the Rosary in Kellyville, Australia.
Haga clic aquí para una traducción al español.
What drew you to the Franciscans?
I joined the Order when I was about 30 years old, and what drew me to them is more what drew me away from other things. I was miserable as a graphic designer. In my job, I had to work under people who hadn’t gone to school for art or anything like that. I also felt frustrated because a lot of the stuff that I did was used once and then thrown away. I was thinking: "All of my designs end up in landfills and make the world more polluted and really don't help anybody." So I was thinking: "What is the point of my life?"
Then I started reflecting about where I had seen joy-filled people in my life and whom did I admire. The Conventual Franciscan friars stood out. They presented a different way of living that could be joyful and lived in community. I had known a couple of them while studying design at Washington University in St. Louis. That’s a secular school, but they have a Newman Center there for Catholic students. Two friars (now Frs. Patrick Greenough, OFM Conv. and Stephen McKinley, OFM Conv.) were ministering there as they were studying for ministry themselves.
I also met an Ursuline sister (Sr. Margaret Vitt, OSU) who was very instrumental in my life; probably, she is the first person to introduce me to our loving compassionate God. She was a very well-educated sister. When I first met her, she had studied for an advanced degree in France and was preparing to defend her doctoral work.
Through the friars and this sister, I basically started thinking about my vocation. I always felt called to the priesthood. When I started thinking about priesthood, I knew it had to be in some kind of religious community. Later I discovered that I really was Franciscan all my life though I didn't realize it. I'm drawn to the humanity of Christ. I'm drawn to the beauty of creation and finding God in creation. I'm drawn to helping the poor. I didn't necessarily know these were Franciscan themes until after I'd jointed the Order.
Before you came here to Mary, Mother of God, you were in Australia. What were you doing there?
I was pastor at Our Lady of the Rosary in Kellyville, one of the suburbs of Sydney. The parish was preparing to start a major renovation that would take all of my 8 years to complete! Nothing had been done to the physical church since it was originally built, about 50 years old ago. We had threadbare carpeting, we had poor lighting and you could no longer find replacement bulbs for some of the lights as they didn't exist. We had no air conditioning or heating. Realize that this is in a place where in the summer, it gets up to be about 100-110 degrees and can get humid. Remember that their seasons are flipped, so that means Christmas falls right in the heart of summer. So now imagine a packed church, with no air conditioning and then maybe it’s a rainy day on top of that, adding to the oppressive humidity. That was my first Christmas there and my worst Christmas there in terms of comfort. It got so humid in the church that the walls appeared to sweat!
As pastor, I would celebrate the sacraments, of course. I also visited the schools; they have two schools there, both elementary. I don’t know how the parish got attached to two schools. It's like the area grew so much, they had to build a second school but didn’t have enough to build another church.
Pastoring two schools was an enormous project, because every time a sacrament came up, we had about 180 kids per sacrament signed up for the classes. The first year I was there, we had eight First Communion Masses, because you couldn't fit everybody in the church. That was probably the biggest headache of that place, trying to organize the sacraments.
On top of that, renovating that church took 8 years! In the midst of the renovations, we suffered flooding in the hall (that we were using as a worship space while renovating) COVID... Add to that, the diocese was renovating one of the schools at the same time, which shared the church parking lots. Basically they took down all of the existing school buildings and rebuilt a whole new structure in two of the years I was there!
What was the parish like?
The parish had about 3,000 families, on the books. We had people from all over the world. The founders of the church were Italian and Maltese, so they were of European descent. But the later generations were coming in from Nigeria, the Philippines, Malaysia, China, Vietnam, India Papua New Guinea and other countries from Asia and the Pacific. And we all got along, which I thought was beautiful.
I sense such a loving community here at Mary, Mother of God Parish, too. I think there's a lot of different nations represented in our parish that seem to be getting along, and are respectful of each other and open to learning about wonderful new cultures. That's the wonder of Pentecost!
So you're coming from a place with a huge variety of populations to another! And as you know, Mary, Mother of God is a busy place. So asking about your spare time probably sounds ridiculous but it is nice for people to know- what would you do in your spare time such as you have it?
When I have spare time (I just got here, so I haven't had a lot of spare time) I like to exercise. I like to go to the gym. I like to run. I'm thinking about maybe starting biking once I get a bike, because you have such lovely bike trails by the lake. I like going to museums. When I was in Australia, I tried to go out every day off and try to see something new. I like to hike.
I like going to the movies. I really love movies. They're fun, and they kind of distract you from whatever you're worried about for a while.
Do you have a genre you prefer?
I like all kinds, but I especially enjoy science fiction movies. Star Wars of course is a big plus in my life. Really my vocation comes out of Star Wars, in a way, because I wanted to be a Jedi growing up, and this is the closest thing I think we have to Jedi. At least Jedi from the first movie! Towards the later movies, they start getting into battle and war, and I'm like "That's not what a Jedi is! Jedi are people who are protectors and caretakers, especially of the poor. That's what a Franciscan is, I think."
I like the superhero movies; Superman was my hero from childhood, and he still is!
I like movies that make you wonder "Where is this plot going? How is it going to end?" Movies that surprise us are few and far between these days.
I also like to read books- I also like to read a lot of science fiction books. Lately I've liked very much the Expanse series of books.
Anything else you'd want to tell people in the parish about yourself?
I think I want people to know that I’m approachable. At my last parish in Australia as I was saying my goodbyes, they shared how when I first got there they thought I was very serious! I’m really not! I hope parishioners here know this by now! I really like making people laugh. I was the comedian in my family growing up, the one who made people laugh. And I like to do that. I look forward to being with you here, helping you to laugh but also being with you when you cry and everything in between. I feel honored and blessed to be here, and it's a privilege and great responsibility. Though I like to laugh, please know that I'm taking my role here seriously.
Mary at St. Thomas of Canterbury Church
May is traditionally the month of Mary, with May crownings and traditions to honor our Blessed Mother. During this month, we strongly encourage all our parishioners to explore the depictions and images of Mary at all three of our parish!
Today, we bring you the images of Mary at St. Thomas of Canterbury Church (4827 N. Kenmore). St. Thomas of Canterbury is notable for its shrines of martyrs throughout the world, but Mary features prominently throughout the church as well.
Mariam Dearit is venerated by Catholics in Eritrea, with a major festival in her honor at the end of the month of May. The members of the Holy Family Eritrean Community celebrated in her honor on May 6, with Mass in the Ge'ez a procession and reception.
Our Lady of Walsingham
Our Lady of Fatima
Our Lady of Lavang
Our Lady of Gaudalupe
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
Mary with St. Anne
Honoring Fr. Robert Cook, OFM Conv.
Early this month, we said goodbye to Fr. Bob Cook, OFM Conv., who has served as pastor of Mary, Mother of God since 2016 when the friars first arrived at Saint Ita. His new assignment will be as rector of the Basilica of Saint Josaphat in Milwaukee. Thank you for everything, Fr. Bob, and thank you to the parishioners at all our churches who helped honor him at his departure!
Honoring Fr. Robert Melnick, OFM Conv.
On Divine Mercy Sunday, we said farewell to Fr. Robert Melnick before his transfer to Marytown in Libertyville, Illinois. He has served all around the parish over the course of his five years, including as spiritual assistant to the parish's Secular Franciscans. Thank you for everything, Fr. Robert!
Scenes from Holy Week and Easter
Scenes from our celebrations of Holy Week and Easter. Jesus Christ is truly risen, alleluia!
Palm Sunday: 4-2-23
Holy Thursday: 4-6-23
Good Friday: 4-7-23
Holy Saturday: 4-8-23
Easter Vigil: 4-8-23
Easter Sunday: 4-9-23
Lights Restored in Front of Saint Ita
After almost 40 years, the lights on the front of Saint Ita church have been restored! This took the work of a mason, metalworker, electrician and glass worker to complete. But the results speak for themselves! Thanks to Ed and Sheila Stranc for spearheading the restoration.
The Primacy of Prayer: A Lenten Retreat
Scenes from our retreat on "The Primacy of Prayer" on March 25, with talks from St. Gregory's Hall artist-in-residence Sarah Crow and scholar-in-residence Fr. Bob Sprott, OFM. Thank you to all who joined us for the retreat, and to all our volunteers and speakers!
Escenas de nuestro retiro de Cuaresma del 19 de marzo con el P. Romert Morales. El tema fue "¿Cuál es el mandamiento más importante?". ¡Gracias, P. Romert y a todos nuestros asistentes!
Pastoral and Finance Council Updates
The parish pastoral council and the parish finance council provide the pastor of Mary, Mother of God with important insight and input on parish operations. Minutes from the meetings are available on the parish website: motherofgodchicago.org. Copies are also available on request at the parish office. Please call 773-561-5343 ex. 10.
Pastoral Council Meeting Highlights (2/16/23)
Parish Staffing and Operations:
-There is a Transition Task Force for Fr. Alejandro Lopez: Fr. Bob Cook, Stuart Boldry, Mark Franzen, Dorothy Julian, Dan Lagacy, James Murphy and Soledad Andrade as secretary. Meets every two weeks.
St. Thomas of Canterbury School report:
-8th grade class results: 23 - full scholarships to Loyola Academy, 4 - full scholarships to St. Ignatius, and 4 - Daniel Murphy Scholars.
-All students who applied got a full Tax Credit Scholarship through Empower Illinois. Funds raised in cooperation with Ss. Francis Xavier and Joseph; program will continue for 2023/2024. Over a quarter of a million dollars has already been raised.
Finance Council Meeting Highlights (1/26/23)
Financial Report July 1, 2022, through December 31, 2022
The 2022 Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) tripled the parish goal. Pledges totaled $152,000. $149,000 has been paid, which is 98% payment rate. We have received the first rebate of $58,000 and should receive another $40,000 rebate in March.
The Christmas collection totaled $66,000. The second collection for outreach was approximately $300 per Mass.
El Consejo Pastoral Parroquial y el Consejo Financiero Parroquial proporcionan al párroco de María, Madre de Dios, importantes ideas y aportaciones sobre el funcionamiento de la parroquia. Las actas de las reuniones están disponibles en la página web de la parroquia: motherofgodchicago.org. Copias también están disponibles en la oficina parroquial. Por favor llame al 773-561-5343 ext. 10.
Puntos importantes de la reunión del Consejo Pastoral (2/16/23)
Personal y Operaciones de la Parroquia:
-Hay un Grupo de Trabajo de Transición para el P. Alejandro López: P. Bob Cook, Stuart Boldry, Mark Franzen, Dorothy Julian, Dan Lagacy, James Murphy y Soledad Andrade como secretaria. Se reúne cada dos semanas.
i. 16 de abril (Domingo de la Divina Misericordia): La última Misa del P. Robert Melnick, con una recepción después de la Misa de 10:30am. Se trasladará a Marytown y seguirá siendo el Asistente Espiritual de los Franciscanos Seculares.
ii. La última Misa del P. Bob Cook será el 5/7. Las despedidas serán en las tres iglesias el 4/23, 4/30 y 5/7 - horas/lugares por determinar.
Reporte de la Escuela Sto. Tomás de Canterbury:
-Resultados de la clase de 8vo grado: 23 - becas completas para la Academia Loyola, 4 - becas completas para San Ignacio, y 4 - Becas Daniel Murphy.
-Todos los estudiantes que aplicaron obtuvieron una beca completa de Tax Credit a través de Empower Illinois. Fondos recaudados en cooperación con Ss. Francis Xavier y Joseph; el programa continuará para 2023/2024. Ya se ha recaudado más de un cuarto de millón de dólares.
Puntos importantes de la reunión del Consejo de Finanzas (1/26/23)
Informe financiero del 1° de julio de 2022 al 31 de diciembre de 2022
Ingresos de Operaciones
Pérdida neta de explotación: $155.000, frente a una ganancia de $40.709 en el periodo anterior. Los ingresos disminuyeron en $69.047 ó 6.56%. Impactados por una menor recaudación en domingos y festivos ($24.774), intereses e inversiones ($27.644) e ingresos varios ($17.786). Los descensos se compensan parcialmente con el aumento de la matrícula ($9.642) y de los ingresos por alquileres ($56.760).
Informe de Corresponsabilidad
La Campaña Católica Anual 2022 (ACA) triplicó la meta de la parroquia. Las promesas ascendieron a $152.000. Se han pagado $149.000, lo que representa una tasa de pago del 98%. Hemos recibido el primer reembolso de $58.000 y debemos recibir otro reembolso de $40.000 en marzo.
La colecta de Navidad ascendió a $66.000. La segunda colecta de divulgación fue de aproximadamente $300 por Misa.