St. James Church in Chicago, Illinois recently welcomed Missionary Servants to take over their pastoral care ministry. Newly appointed pastor Father John Edmunds, S.T., shares his first impressions below:
“St. James is a good place for the Missionary Servants. The people here have a sense of themselves as needing to be more than ‘Sunday Catholics’ and a desire for deepening their faith response. The strong social outreach (more on that later) has given a “mission” dimension already to the parish. The liturgy is well prepared and celebrated with gusto. The parish prides itself on its diversity – about half African-American and half Anglo.
A major dimension of St. James is the food pantry. It provides groceries for 1700 families every month. Several hundred of these groceries are delivered to those who are shut in. In addition, four days a week about 70 street people come in for lunch. Besides the actual food assistance, the Food Pantry provides nutrition education classes weekly, food stamp sign ups, social service through Medicaid, legal assistance, connection with the Veterans’ Administration, Christmas and Thanksgiving baskets, clothes distribution and health screenings. All of this is done with a staff of two.
Obviously the Pantry is dependent on volunteers – and this is one of its greatest strengths. Many are regulars who help given days. Groups also assist from time to time, for instance high school service projects and college students on Spring break. The staff gives them an orientation to this ministry of mercy.
The parish work also includes a campus ministry at the Illinois Institute of Technology, with an enrollment of 8,000 students. They are served by one of the lay staff who develops programs for the student population. Sunday Mass is traditionally held on campus when school is in session but many students choose Mass at the parish.
One of the key reasons for adding St. James to our list of missions was to provide a residence for our post-novitiate program in the United States, where our Professed Student-Brothers continue their studies. The buildings include a large old rectory that has been neglected. The Archdiocese is working on needed repairs and Brother Paul Michalenko, S.T., who lives nearby and works at Catholic Theological Union, is creating a welcoming atmosphere in anticipation of the students’ arrival in August.”
To learn more about Father John Edmunds, S.T., click here.
To read Father John’s blogs and learn more about St. James Church, click here.