St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy Parish often seems the best kept secret in Oak Park. Over 500 families from the West Side of Chicago and western suburbs belong to the parish, but many locals are unfamiliar with the church. Founded in 1889, St. Catherine of Siena is the oldest Catholic parish in Oak Park. St. Lucy was built in Austin in 1911. The two merged in 1974, creating a parish that serves city and suburbs and welcomes people of different ethnicities, socioeconomic levels, and sexual orientations. The parish welcomes all. For example, many people with mental disabilities are present at Mass and participate as altar servers or lectors.
This year, with great joy, the parish will welcome back former pastoral associate Sr. Teresita Weind, who will bring her powerful message. After a 23-year absence, she will return to the Chicago area as congregational leader of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Her current role takes her around the world to her order's varied service ministries. She will travel from Rome to share her gifts as a spiritual guide, prayer animator, and inspirational speaker.
This one-day retreat is open to men and women of all faith traditions. Why go? Just ask the people who know Sr. Teresita. They speak about presence.
Pat Koko recommends going to the retreat, emphasizing that she has "never attended anything led by Teresita that was not worthwhile. She imparts a special spirituality that gives a participant a special grace, uplift and peace."
One parishioner has called Teresita an "inspiring homilist, a gracious presence, a charismatic leader, and a gentle dynamo" who offers "a simplicity of spirit with an international world view. Teresita put soul into the bread she made for us."
"Her sense of liturgy and her dedication to doing it well were her main gifts to the parish," recalls Barb Vanek. "She was so careful when planning liturgies, yet never judgmental or recriminating when children, adults, or priests 'forgot the plan.' I think back to her training of Eucharistic ministers. She was very clear about the procedure, but the Eucharist was always to be the sign of unity. Nothing should detract from that. Giving us the theology behind the ritual in a simple, profound way made us all better ministers."
Terry Bradford said she "will never forget the first time Teresita led the Good Friday service. When she walked down the aisle as the presider beside Father Carolan, no one could believe what they were seeing. I will never forget that moment when she as a female led that service. The entire community was in awe of what we were seeing." Terry and her husband, Deacon Bruce, live in Pekin, are registered for the retreat, and were parishioners at St. Catherine-St. Lucy for many years.
"Based upon past experience, I look forward to being encouraged, challenged and, yes, entertained by Teresita. Her demeanor is always so humble yet she hits the nail on the head in her presentations," said Pastoral Associate Jim Hargadon.
Teresita's retreat will take place at St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy Church, 38 N. Austin Blvd., in Oak Park from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 6. Retreat planners represent six local parishes. Registration is now open. Call the parish office at 708-386-8077 for information.
You are also invited to meet and greet Sr. Teresita on Friday evening, Sept. 5 and/or to attend 10:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, Sept. 7, at St. Catherine-St. Lucy Church, where she will speak.