Photo by Dermot Connolly
The Chicago Archdiocese notified parishioners in September that St. Germaine Church, 9711 S. Kolin Ave., in Oak Lawn, and its adjoining school, will remain open after St. Germaine unites with Our Lady of Loretto Parish in Hometown to form a new parish led by one pastor and one staff team at St. Germaine, effective July 1, 2019.
By Dermot Connolly
Cardinal Blase Cupich has decided that two Oak Lawn churches and their adjoining schools will remain open, after discussing the possibility of merging with neighboring parishes as part of the Renew My Church program.
St. Germaine Church, at 9711 S. Kostner Ave., and St. Catherine of Alexandria at 4100 W. 107th St., were grouped together with Our Lady of Loretto Church in Hometown and St. Terrence in Alsip as the Pulaski Corridor Group throughout the discussions that began last spring between parishioners and archdiocesan officials about consolidating parishes to make them stronger.
The Grouping Feedback and Discernment Team, which was made up of representatives from each of the parishes, met to review and discern the future church, parish and school structures for the Alsip, Hometown and Oak Lawn area. Based on their meetings and discussions with the larger parish community, they submitted a report for the Archdiocesan Standards and Recommendations Commission, which included representatives from across the Archdiocese.
Several possible options were considered but Cupich said in a letter published in parish bulletins on Sept. 22 that he decided that Our Lady of Loretto, 8925 S. Kostner Ave., will unite with St. Germaine “to form one new parish led by one pastor and one staff team, effective July 1, 2019.”
“Within the next couple of years, at a time determined by parish leadership in consultation with Archdiocesan leadership, the newly formed parish will come together at St. Germaine Church while Our Lady of Loretto Church will close. St. Germaine School will remain as a ministry of the parish with the prior benchmarks and goals established by the Office of Catholic Schools,” said the cardinal.
The elementary school attached to Our Lady of Loretto closed in 2006.
Cupich also said that St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish will remain as will its school. For the time being, St. Terrence Church, 4300 W. 119th Place, will also continue with a full-time resident pastor.
“Together, St. Terrence Parish leadership and the archdiocesan leadership will identify an alternate grouping for further discernment about the best future scenario for the St. Terrence community,” said Cupich.
He said he made his decisions after reviewing the recommendations of the Archdiocesan Commission and meeting with the Archdiocese’s Presbyterial Council.
“Over the next few months, the Archdiocese will work with all involved to ensure an orderly and smooth transition to the new structure. The Archdiocese’s Priest Placement Board will work with the community to identify a pastor to lead the new parish formed by St. Germaine and Our Lady of Loretto,” he said.
The Rev. Mike Furlan, pastor of St. Germaine Church, could not be reached for comment earlier this week. But in his letter to parishioners published on Sept. 22, he noted that the new church in the Pulaski Corridor will be “born” in about nine months, and compared it to the birth of a child.
Furlan, who reminded his parishioners that this will be his last year as pastor, said all four parishes in the grouping would be its parents.
“Lacking any first-hand experience of the process, I rely on family, friends, parishioners, and public information to assure me that pregnancy is not spent in idle leisure. There is work to be done before the baby is born. In addition to preparing the space the baby will occupy with the family, there is also the pre-natal care that is necessary to keep the mother and the unborn child healthy (and sometimes the father, too).”
“There is also the possibility of complications that need to be dealt with. Our parishes will face similar challenges in the months ahead. We will have to remain strong and healthy as we prepare for this new phase of our lives. Just as parents need to convert the exercise room into a nursery, we will begin converting some of our systems and practices to accommodate the ‘baby,’” continued Furlan.
“During these next few months, I plan to do all that I can to keep our parish strong and healthy as we prepare to give birth to a new reality. Early in 2019, a new pastor will be appointed for our area. I hope I can be of assistance to him as he takes up the leadership of the family of St. Germaine within this new reality,” he concluded.