Rev. Larry McNally, pastor of Ascension Church, didn't plan to spend so much time in the limelight this past year. He had no choice when one of his "weekend assistants," Rev. Larry Reuter, a Jesuit who worked at Loyola Medical Center and filled in celebrating Sunday Mass at Ascension, was "disappeared" by the Jesuits because word got out about an inappropriate relationship with a student at Loyola Academy, where Reuter had previously served as president.
Esquire magazine used to feature a series of interviews with celebrities at the end of each year titled, "What I've Learned." Maybe they still do. Regardless, as we enter a new year in a still-new millennium (which can only get better), here is some of what I've learned — as discovered in my notebook scribblings:
Francis Pharcellus Church is a name that doesn't ring many bells these days. It didn't even make the Macy's windows rendition of "Yes, Virginia," this year's holiday display. Everyone remembers Virginia O'Hanlon, the 8-year-old who wrote the New York Sun in September of 1897 to verify the existence of Santa Claus.
A strong case can be made that It's a Wonderful Life is the Great American Movie. It may not be the best American film ever made, but it captures best what Americans most want to believe about themselves.
These are dark times, and it's easy to find cause for concern. Listening to the news on NPR lately is enough to send a person spiraling into depression. People are suffering. We know this, even when we aren't faced with evidence.
My 16-year-old car keeps coming up with creative ways to go haywire. A small motor in the back, which once upon a time raised and lowered the car antenna (before the antenna, Viagara-like, remained stuck in the you-know-what position), could be heard whirring briefly whenever I turned off the car, thinking it was doing its appointed duty.
At 4.5 square miles, Oak Park is eminently walkable. Jean Sullivan has lived here since 1940, when her family moved from Our Lady of Sorrows Parish on the West Side, and before that, Michigan. When she was a kid, she palled around with Bob Newhart's sister, Mary Jo.