He is: Father Kurt Boras, pastor of historic St. Patrick Parish in Lemont. Former pastor of St. Bernadette, Evergreen Park. Ordained in 1986.
Family: Grew up in St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish. “My dad, Henry, worked for the U.S. Post Office from the time he came back from World War II. He was in the second wave at the Battle of Omaha Beach and received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He was a wonderful Dad. I was proud of him and he was proud of me. Ann, my mom, is 88 and lives in her own home in Orland Park. Dad was Polish and mom is Czechoslovakian. My older brother, Mark, passed away at age 50 in 2003.
“In high school I worked at a bowling alley across from Quigley South. I worked at the Wrigley Gum Factory at 37th and Archer during college summers. Then while studying counseling I worked in a drug rehab center for youth in the Mundelein area.”
Vocation: “There were quite a few people who influenced my religious vocation, but Pope John Paul II put me spiritually over the top. I was a Quigley seminarian when he came to Chicago. He seemed so real -- it got me excited about the vocation of priesthood. He flew in on his helicopter. We were soccer champs at that time. We gave him a soccer ball and he did tricks by dribbling it with his feet on the field.
“I’m a lifer (attending Quigley South, Niles, and Mundelein Seminary) except for a couple years I took time off to study in the field of counseling and clinical psychology. I used the experience as associate dean of formation and director of psychological services at Mundelein Seminary.
“I was ordained by Cardinal Bernardin. You could be a seminarian or a dignitary, he was kind and generous to everyone.”
Besides parish ministry: While an associate pastor he was a member of the Priests’ Placement Board part time, from 1999-2003. “It was a great learning experience to see the needs of the entire diocese. A priest can get tunnel vision caught up in his own parish work. It was challenging.”
Historic St. Patrick’s: “The formal celebration of our 175th jubilee, was Oct. 19, 2014. I was impressed reading our parish history. The Irish immigrants who came to dig the nearby Cal Sag Canal helped build this parish with their own hands and from the love of their heart.”
Prayer life: “As one of the spiritual directors at Strich Retreat House I like going to Stritch for silent retreats myself. I focus on Ignatian spirituality, 12-step work and sports. Ignatian Spirituality is seeing God in all things. Ignatius also teaches the examen, where you examine your day to see where God gave you opportunities to find him -- whether we responded or missed it. We ask forgiveness and try to be better disciples. The 12-step program teaches me we have to let go because God is the true director in our lives.”
Leisure: “I played semi-professional baseball until I was in my 20s. It taught me good sportsmanship, teamwork, discipline, and having fun.
“On my day off I stop by my Mom’s and we do lunch. A couple of priest friends have cottages. We might get together and relax or catch a movie. I like a lot of Henri Nouwen’s writings and Tim Green who writes about spirituality in sports.”
Favorite Scripture verse: “Psalm 23, ‘The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.’”
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited the St. John Paul II National Shrine in Washington June 2 before he signed an executive order back at the White House to expand U.S. support for international religious freedom efforts.
Do I remember St. John Paul II? Yes, I remember him well. I write of him as the centennial of his birth May 18, 1920, approaches. It would be impossible to list all my lasting memories of him in one article. So that is not my goal.
Parishioners gathered for an outdoor Mass at Five Holy Martyrs Church, 4327 S. Richmond St., Oct. 6, 2019, to commemorate St. John Paul II's 1979 visit to Chicago.