Cis Redmond and Carol Steele know their churches. The pair, parishioners at Queen of All Saints Basilica, 6280 N. Sauganash Ave., have been friends since their children were in kindergarten 20 years ago. For the past seven years, they’ve made an effort to visit churches across the Archdiocese of Chicago, bringing back a bulletin and keeping notes on what they liked at each parish. Sometimes it’s the beauty of the physical church building — although the women have very different preferences when it comes to architecture and design. Sometimes it’s the spirit of the people they join in worship. Sometimes they stumble on a special event they didn’t know about ahead of time. “When we went to St. John Berchmans (2511 W. Logan Blvd.), they were having their outdoor Mass,” Redmond said. “We were sitting inside the church and wondering where everybody was, and then we went outside and found everyone.” But not until they’d taken note of the stained glass depiction of Noah’s ark, which they had read about in the archdiocese’s 2006 “Journey of Faith” book, which lists a “treasure” at each parish church. Their church-hopping actually started with a 2007 or 2008 visit to Willow Creek Community Church, an evangelical megachurch based in South Barrington, just to see what it was about. On their way home, they stopped at St. Anne Parish in Barrington. Then there were occasional visits to parishes where their families had a personal connection: St. Genevieve, 4854 W. Montana Ave., where Steele’s parents were married; Notre Dame de Chicago, 1335 W. Harrison St., and Ascension in Oak Park, where Redmond’s family had roots. About seven years ago, they started trying to go once a month to a new church. They also started planning their own pilgrimages to seven churches on Holy Thursday. So far, they’ve made weekend visits to well over 50 churches and stopped at about 49 on Holy Thursday pilgrimages. They’ve developed some strong opinions over their travels. They like sanctuary lamps at St. Thomas the Apostle, 5472 S. Kimbark Ave. “Most places only have one, but they have seven that follow the curve of the sanctuary,” Redmond said. Redmond and Steele said they both enjoyed the children’s choir at St. Josaphat Parish, 2245 N. Southport Ave., which was singing with the adult choir the day that they visited, and the community at St. Thomas of Canterbury. They visited St. Thomas of Canterbury, 4827 N. Kenmore Ave., on the Feast of Corpus Christi, and the Mass also turned out to be the kick off for the parish’s 100th anniversary celebration. While their notes on the visit show neither was wowed by the physical environment of the church, they were enchanted by the community, especially the Eritrean women who ululated while they brought up the gifts and the members of different ethnic communities who offered serenades during the eucharistic procession that followed the Mass. “I think what I like the most are the things we just blundered into,” Redmond said. “Some of our parishes do the most amazing things,” Steele concurred. Both women mentioned the welcome they were given at St. Paul Church, 2127 W. 22nd Place, when they were approached after Mass by a man who introduced himself as “your tour guide.” He gave them a tour of the church and the rectory, sharing snippets of the church’s history and information about its renovation and introducing them to the pastor. “I loved the mosaics, and Father (Michael) Enright was wonderful,” Redmond said. That’s not the only time parishioners have recognized that they are visitors and extended greetings. “We look like tourists,” Redmond said. “We’re always looking around.” Their checklists for each church includes sections for everything from the bulletin (including whether it has a name) to the style of collection baskets the ushers use (both like traditional wicker baskets on long handles). On other matters, their tastes diverge, with Redmond enjoying what could be described as more ornate churches, while Steele prefers a more austere modern style. “Don’t even get us started on Stations of the Cross,” Redmond joked. They also look at the church traffic pattern — is it clear how members of the congregation should approach the altar for Communion and how they should return to their pews? — and look to see if the main aisle and entrance are “bride-worthy.” “We find something we like at every church,” Steele said. “Each one has an impact on us,” Redmond said.