Please don’t close St. Kate’s Church

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Statement delivered at the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Renew My Church Forum in St. Catherine / St. Lucy’s Parish on October 3:

I am a long-time parishioner of Sainte-Catherine-St. Parish of Lucie. I am here to strongly urge that whatever plan Renew My Church adopts for the four Oak Park parishes, it should not include the closure of St. Catherine-St. Church of Lucia. If that means celebrating only one mass on the weekend, that church still shouldn’t and shouldn’t close.

My personal history with this parish dates back to 1960, when our oldest was baptized at Saint Lucia Church in Austin – long before the merger with Saint Catherine of Siena in the 1970s. Even though our family moved to Oak Park in the decades that followed, my husband Monroe and I made a conscious choice to remain faithful to this parish. Our main reason was to have our family worship within a racially mixed community and to support the eastern border of Oak Park and the Austin neighborhood of Chicago (which, I must remember, is within the boundaries of SLSC parish). At the time, many white residents fled this area.

We have had married children and baptized grandchildren, as well as my late husband’s funeral here over the years, but the most lasting and important part has been joining this mixed parish of faithful, as well as the friendships and community that flourished. This church is a true symbol of “welcome to all”, and if it were to close, it would be like slamming a door on the most integrated parish of the four. Symbols are important and, as true Christians, I believe we have a social obligation to maintain this parish as the Catholic gateway to Oak Park – and to keep it as such.

Closing this church would also be a travesty for our larger Oak Park community, which has worked so diligently to keep the east end of the village integrated and vital. It is not just a “Catholic” choice. I believe it is also a social justice decision.

Of the renewal options that have been prepared for this discussion, I think the St. Catherine-St. Lucy combining with Ascension (like the two most eastern and similar members).

Change is always difficult, but it is necessary, and my prayer is that we can become stronger by coming together in good faith.

But please don’t close the doors of St. Catherine-St. Lucie Community.

Francoise Sullivan, Oaks Park


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