Three local parishes dedicate new parish spaces

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Three local parishes dedicate new parish spaces

Parishioners at St. Edna and St. James, both in Arlington Heights, and at Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Lemont dedicated new spaces for worship and parish programming this year.
Cardinal Cupich blesses the new parish center at St. Edna Parish, Arlington Heights. The March 30, 2019, dedication included a Mass with Cardinal Cupich, Bishop Alberto Rojas and Bishop George Rassas. (Julie Jaidinger/Chicago Catholic)
St. Edna Parish in Arlington Heights has a new 13,700-square-foot parish center. (Photo provided by the parish)
Newly renovated worship space at St. James in Arlington Heights. Upgrades included making the church handicapped-accessible, increasing seating from 500 to more than 800, and a large indoor gathering space. (Photo provided by parish)
Newly renovated worship space at St. James in Arlington Heights. Upgrades included making the church handicapped-accessible, increasing seating from 500 to more than 800, and a large indoor gathering space. (Photo provided by parish)
The new Parish Life Center at Ss. Cyril & Methodius Parish in Lemont. (Photo provided by the parish)

When parishioners at St. Edna in Arlington Heights began considering the need for a new parish center during the creation of a parish master plan in 2010, they had no idea how long the process would take.

Cardinal Cupich dedicated the $5.4 million building March 30 after a journey that included three pastors and several iterations of the proposal. It includes a large space that can be used for meetings or sports, a stage area and a full kitchen.

“We needed a space that could host large gatherings,” said Pat Freeman, the parish’s business manager.

The parish began raising money in 2012. It wasn’t until after that process started that organizers learned that the archdiocese, going through its own financial difficulties in 2013, put a moratorium on lending money to parishes for construction projects, so parishioners would have to raise the entire cost up front.

That led the parish to downsize its plans slightly. But in 2014, when Father Richard Yanos was named pastor, he suggested going back to the original plan, so the building would have the features the parish needed.

Then the archdiocese started its To Teach Who Christ Is capital campaign. Parish leaders asked to be waived from that campaign, as they already had their own effort going on, but were told that they must participate. They did, and parishioners donated to both campaigns.

“It’s amazing to me,” said Laura Kniskern, the parish operations manager. “We’re not a huge parish.”

“People’s generosity is just overwhelming to us,” Freeman said.

The campaign, culminating with the parish dedication, also built community among parishioners, Kniskern said.

“What we saw that first night at the dedication was the way a parish changes and grows,” she said. “We had some of our seniors, founding members of the parish, and young families together. What we accomplished was to create a space where we could all be together under one roof, celebrating our parish together.”

The St. Edna parish center is one of several new spaces opened by archdiocesan parishes this year.

St. James Parish, also in Arlington Heights, opened its newly renovated church on April 14, Palm Sunday.

The church is now large enough to accommodate the whole parish, so that major community Masses no longer need to be celebrated in the school gym, and it is fully handicapped accessible with ramps and elevators.

Before, there was a single ramp that allowed wheelchair users to get into the church, but no way for them to get to the basement, where restroom facilities were located, said Tom Garson, a member of the parish’s perpetual adoration committee.

“It’s not very welcoming to say to someone, you can get in the church, but there’s nowhere for you to go to the bathroom,” Garson said.

The $10 million project also included demolishing the old school building and expanding and improving the parking lot.

The church basement also now has proper facilities for the Public Action to Deliver Shelter program, which uses it once a month to accommodate homeless people.

It also houses a 24-seat eucharistic adoration chapel, which the parish hopes to keep open for perpetual adoration once it opens June 9, Pentecost Sunday. It will be the only perpetual adoration chapel in a several-mile radius, and Garson said he has been going on the road to tell members of other parishes about it.

“The pastors of the neighboring parishes are really enthusiastic about it,” said Garson, who has visited St. Edna, St. Emily in Mount Prospect and St. Mary in Buffalo Grove, among other parishes.

Garson said he believes the opening of the chapel is a major step towards evangelization, both of Catholics and non-Catholics.

“Twenty years ago, I was at a different parish that started an adoration chapel,” Garson said. “I was kind of a good Catholic, but I thought adoration was for holy people. Monks and nuns did it.”

But he tried it and was hooked.

“I find adoration to be the most rewarding spiritual devotion that a person can do,” he said. “My feeling is that the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist explains itself in adoration.”

Non-Catholics who have never learned about the Real Presence also feel welcomed by Christ when they come to spend time in prayer or meditation, he said, adding that he invites everyone, Catholic or not, to spend time with the Eucharist.

A perpetual adoration chapel also opened this spring at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Lemont as part of its new Parish Life Building. Cardinal Cupich dedicated the building, which also includes office space and conference and meeting rooms, on April 14, and Bishop Andrew Wypych consecrated the chapel on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 28.

According to parish staff, the new building has more room to accommodate parish organizations and it replaces office facilities that were not handicapped accessible.


  • parishes

Related Articles