Loves being at the grassroots 'where church is truly lived'

By Dolores Madlener | Staff writer
Sunday, May 18, 2014

He is: Father Richard Yanos, pastor since 1997 at Prince of Peace in Lake Villa. Soon to be pastor of St. Edna Parish in Arlington Heights. Ordained at Mundelein in 1983.

Growing up: “I have one sister, Cathy, with three children, and my seventh great niece or nephew expected in July. I attended St. John Bosco Grammar School on the North Side, taught by Springfield Dominican nuns and loved ’em! Then Quigley North, Niles College and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary. There were 83 in my freshman class at Quigley, 63 graduated and I’m the only priest.

“Growing up we lived in four houses, because my dad, a Russian Orthodox, made the promise to baptize and raise us Catholic. He followed through on his commitment to my mom, who was Polish and Catholic. He always wanted us to stay in St. John Bosco Parish, so we moved four times. Each move was within two blocks of each other.

“Dad was a lithographer at Continental Can Company. He used to print all the twist-off caps on jars of olives, pickles, and stuff. That was one of my summer jobs -- working at Continental Can. I also worked two summers at Disneyland in California, while at Niles and as a freshman at Mundelein. If you perform well you always have a job if you want it at Disney.”

Priesthood: “My family was very supportive of my vocation. It was my parish priest, Father Ron Scarlata, who inspired my vocation. He was young  and ran our teen group. He invited 10 of us eighth-graders to see Quigley just to check the place out. He took us down on the Grand Avenue bus and we had a great experience. Because of his encouragement and persistence, a number of us enrolled.”

Present parish: “We have about 2,500 families at Prince of Peace. After 17 years here as pastor I’ll be leaving. I’ll be going to St. Edna’s in Arlington Heights in July. Our place needed a lot of work when I got here. Not just the facilities but also ministries and activity. We put together a master plan and we actually accomplished our goal in three construction phases. The plant is beautiful and I’m so proud to hand this over to the person following me. We did it together. We aren’t an affluent parish – we haven’t any heavy hitters. It was the people’s dedication and the beautiful relationship of trust among us. When people know you love them, and you feel their love, you can work miracles in a parish. I could ask for anything, and they would come through. When you’re in any of the four far ends of the diocese, nobody knows about us because we’re so far to get to. Many priests don’t even apply for these places. No one could believe the diamond that’s out here in little Lake Villa. Cardinal George was here for our 50th.

“The pastor I attribute my style of ministry and leadership to is the late Father Pat O’Malley at St. Celestine’s. He believed in shared leadership and gave us associates the opportunity to experience what being a pastor was all about.  He divided the parish into segments and we were like mini-pastors of our areas in the parish. He empowered us to exercise leadership and supported us.”

Prayer: “That’s a real challenge. For better or for worse, I incorporate my prayer with the prayer life of the parish in many ways. Time wise it’s been a whirlwind of activity. But without personal prayer I couldn’t do it on my own. We have adoration every Monday. I stop in when I can.”

Leisure: “I’m a fisherman and what’s ironic is I fished more on this Chain o’ Lakes when I lived in Chicago than having them right out my back door.

“I love traveling with our parishioners for a lot of reasons. It gives me an opportunity to know my folks in a different way than church on Sunday. That’s “Hi” and “Bye.” But on these pilgrimages we spend quality time together, in a way we could never do back at the parish. We go every two years to the Holy Land. We’ve been to Egypt, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece and Turkey. When we get back I always ask the group where they’d like to go next. Sixty-five of us are leaving May 5 for Italy. We’ll get to see Pope Francis and I’ll be there on the anniversary of my ordination.

“I get together with some of my classmates pretty regularly and go to the movies and out to eat. I’m a good cook. Our parish has an auction every year for our school, a dinner for eight people. I cook it with the help of my staff. This past year a family paid $3,700 for the meal. So we fixed filet mignon and lobster tail. Sometimes I’ll do a crown roast. When I’m at a good restaurant and see something I like that’s unique, I take a picture and make notes on ingredients and try to duplicate it.”

A collector: “Prince of Peace Parish is famous for its rummage sales. Because I’m moving to St. Edna’s I can’t take half of what I own with me. So I’m having a garage sale of clothing and stuff. I’ll donate the profit to our Parish Life Center. St. Edna is a bigger parish people-wise, yet the house I’ll be living in is smaller.

“But I’ll find space to keep my coin collection, old comic books, and my dad started me collecting stamps as a kid. I also have quite a collection of muskie lures. Dad and I used to come up here to fish. The day I caught my first muskie in Northern Wisconsin, my dad was in the boat with me. I had it mounted and whenever I look at it I think of him.”

Favorite Scripture verse: “John 10:10, the one line I’ve always hung on to is, ‘I have come so that you may have life, and that you may have it to the full.’ I believe in living life fully, and feel blessed I love the life I’ve led. I mean this, I am happier today, 31 years later, than I was when I was first ordained. There is nothing more fulfilling for me, being at the grassroots level where church is truly lived.”


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