It is not often that I am compelled to make a public statement beyond the pulpit of my own parish of St. Edmund, but I do wish to share my thoughts with the community at large about the closing of Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home, which has been serving our community for generations.

For the past 17 years, I have been pastor of St. Edmund Roman Catholic Parish. I am also the administrator of St. Catherine/St. Lucy Parish. Prior to my ministry in Oak Park, I served the people of God for 23 years in Western Springs and in the city of Chicago. As you can imagine, in 40 years of priestly ministry, I have had the opportunity to work closely with numerous owners and directors of funeral homes all across the greater Chicago metropolitan area.

Throughout these many years, my experience working with such directors and owners has been overwhelmingly positive. We don’t stop to think of all that is required of individuals in this profession. They receive calls at all hours of the day and night, and they must be ready to respond. These calls often take place at the most inopportune moments, including during their own family Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. 

No matter the circumstance, funeral home personnel are always available. In some ways, their presence to the community they serve is similar to the expectation that people of faith have of their priests, ministers, imams, and rabbis. But unlike the various religious leaders listed above, funeral directors must have familiarity with all of the faith traditions of the people they serve, so as to accommodate their client’s needs in the most comforting and meaningful of ways. 

Funeral home personnel spend hours with grieving individuals, helping them with preparations, and sometimes, especially for those unaffiliated with a particular expression of faith, they are the only comforting and calming presence at a time of deep sadness, confusion, clouded thinking and even chaos.

It is sad to lose Oak Park’s only remaining funeral home, (although we have many other fine funeral homes nearby), but after decades of service to their community, Charlie and Lynne Williams have earned the right to set aside those calls that come at all hours, along with all the stress and demands that operating a funeral home entail. 

For 17 years, it has been an honor to work and to minister alongside everyone associated with Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home. Whether it be Charlie or Lynne Williams, one of their sons who have often helped, or any of their other employees, I could trust that every aspect of their involvement would be experienced with great sensitivity, understanding, kindness, dignity, and respect.

Thank you, Charlie, and Lynne! I hope that your days of retirement are long, easy, and enjoyable. You have done God’s work in our community, and I am deeply grateful.

Rev. John McGivern is pastor of St. Edmund Parish and administrator of St. Catherine/St. Lucy Parish.

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