The first new parishes created as part of the Renew My Church process have announced their names.
The parishes are from groupings that participated in the pilot and subsequent waves of the Renew My Church local discernment and planning process. Their names were announced the weekend of May 12-13.
The archdiocese describes Renew My Church as the local church’s response to Christ’s call to make disciples, build communities and inspire witness. This is a multi-year process for the archdiocese to strengthen parish vitality and better align its resources and its mission. The new parish names are as follows:
St. Philomena, 1921 N. Kedvale Ave.; Maternity B.V.M., 3647 W. North Ave.; and St. Francis of Assisi, 932 N. Kostner Ave., will unite to form San José Sánchez del Río Parish, retaining the three churches as active worship sites. San José Sánchez del Río was a 14-year-old boy killed by the Mexican government during the Cristero War in 1928 after refusing to renounce his faith. Pope Francis canonized him in 2016.
St. Celestine, Elmwood Park, and St. Cyprian, River Grove, will unite to form St. Mother Theodore Guerin Parish, retaining both churches as active worship sites. St. Mother Guerin died in 1856 and founded the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. A native of France, Mother Guerin established schools, orphanages and free pharmacies for the poor throughout Indiana. The Sisters of Providence sponsor Guerin Prep in River Grove.
Sacred Heart, Winnetka, and St. Philip the Apostle, Northfield, will unite to form Divine Mercy Parish, retaining both churches as active worship sites. Divine Mercy is the devotion Jesus entrusted to the Polish nun St. Faustina Kowalska to celebrate his mercy. St. Faustina died in 1938 and in 2000, St. Pope John Paul II canonized her and declared the first Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday.
St. Bede, Ingleside, and St. Peter, Antioch, will unite to form Our Lady of the Lakes Parish, retaining both churches as active worship sites.
All the church buildings will retain their original names, which is the practice under canon law. In the next step, the archdiocese’s tribunal will issue decrees “erecting,” or establishing, the parishes under canon law, which formalizes the process. New pastors will begin their assignments July 1.
Parish leaders and the faithful chose the new names, said Father Jason Malave, Cardinal Cupich’s delegate for Renew My Church. The groupings were given a choice between combining names into a hyphenated format or choosing a new name entirely.
“In every case, parishioners in the pew had the opportunity to offer feedback on the naming,” Malave said. “The cardinal wanted to make sure that if they chose a new name they had some rationale behind it.”
For example, in the case of the new St. Mother Theodore Guerin Parish, her congregation has a presence in the community through Guerin Prep, and she lived and ministered in nearby Indiana and was canonized in 2006.
Divine Mercy Parish draws its name from the message of Jesus’ mercy and the names of the combining parishes: “Sacred Heart because from the wounded heart of the Savior flows the divine mercy of God to all humanity, and because there exists a strong veneration of St. Faustina and the chaplet of Divine Mercy at St. Philip the Apostle,” according to the parish bulletin.
St. Bede and St. Peter chose Our Lady of the Lakes because their grouping was named “Lakes Region,” both parishes are in Lake County and both have a devotion to Mary.
Like the name St. Mother Theodore Guerin, the name San José Sánchez del Río for the grouping of St. Philomena, Maternity B.V.M. and St. Francis of Assisi parishes is rooted in a devotion to the saint.
“When the news came from the cardinal that the name was approved, believe me, they celebrated,” said Father Jesus Puentes, pastor of St. Philomena Parish. “A lot of people here are from Michoacán, the state where he lived.”
The Archdiocese of Chicago announced May 13 an update on the Renew My Church grouping comprised of St. Gregory the Great Parish and Sts. Ita and Thomas of Canterbury Parish.
To keep the Renew My Church process moving during the pandemic, archdiocesan staff and parish leaders have been using available technology to meet virtually, make decisions and evangelize.
When parishes merge through the Renew My Church process, often that means very different groups of people with different cultural backgrounds and experiences coming together under one roof for the first time as a parish.