Oak Park and River Forest celebrate a large Catholic family. The six parishes and two Catholic high schools make up an important part of our communities.

I am a St. Luke Bearcat (River Forest) and in my 10 years at St. Luke School and continued 10 years since as a parishioner, I have ever experienced a welcoming community based on respect, dignity, and love of God. The St. Luke community is a loving, supportive community. We celebrate our blessings and mourn our losses together. 

I have also had the pleasure of knowing many wonderful clergy members — one that especially comes to mind is Fr. Leroy Wickowski of St. Giles and St. Luke — who are truly servants of God and do so much good for our community.

After being raised in such a community based in faith, I am truly heartbroken at the ongoing news of the child sex abuse and cover up in the Catholic community. Frankly and sadly, though, I am not surprised. The letter from Fr. Jim Hurlbert of Ascension Parish [Addressing this sin in our Church, Viewpoints, Aug. 22] was well written and comforting, but lacked the most important message: What are we as Catholics going to do about the seemingly never-ending child sex abuse scandal in our Church? And most importantly, what are the priests and other clergymen themselves going to do about it?

There was a letter to the editor in the New York Times last week by fellow Catholic Mr. Naka Nathaniel calling on all priests to step down in defiance to the Vatican. This seems extreme to me. However, the sentiment is in the right place. We absolutely cannot allow this to keep happening and need concrete, transparent changes in the Church or it cannot, and should not, continue on as an institution.

Here is my call to action for the OPRF Catholic community: Call your priests, write letters to Cardinal Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and demand that they do something about this horrific trend in our Church — or donations will stop coming, your family will no longer attend Mass, and your children will be dis-enrolled from the Catholic schools. 

If you decide to take some of these more drastic actions, please explain to your family and community members that this is not in defiance of God or the higher beliefs of the Church but in response to the Church establishment — that child abuse and cover-up is not acceptable, nor will it be tolerated. 

And in place of the weekly Mass time, volunteer in the community and strive to live by the true virtues of the Church.

Marcella Heineke

St. Luke class of 2009

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