Three parishes to host COVID-19 vaccination events

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, April 7, 2021

A worker at Lumen Field Event Center in Seattle holds up a sign March 13, 2021, to signal that a station for administering the COVID-19 vaccine needed more doses. (CNS photo/Lindsey Wasson, Reuters)

Three Chicago parishes will host vaccination events in April as part of the city’s initiative to reach underserved communities through their houses of worship.

The initiative so far includes 14 events, including on April 17 at Our Lady of Nazareth Parish, 11128 S. Avenue G and St. Katharine Drexel Parish, 9015 S. Harper Ave., and St. Ferdinand Parish, 5900 W. Barry Ave., on April 24, according to Martina Hone, chief engagement officer for the city.

Walgreens will dispense up to 500 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine at each site, with sign-ups handled by the parishes.

“From the beginning of the vaccines, faith leaders have been asking us to work with them to reach both people in their communities and with the people they serve in their neighborhoods,” Hone said. “As we get more vaccine, there will be more and more opportunities to engage the faith community.”

These vaccination events are an additional piece of the puzzle when it comes to efforts to vaccinate Chicagoans. Those efforts include the United Center super site, which is administered by the city but gets its vaccine allotment directly from the federal government, and ongoing efforts to vaccinate people in the hardest hit neighborhoods with Protect Chicago Plus.

Protect Chicago Plus has focuses on the 15 neighborhoods most affected by COVID-19, including areas such as Little Village and Back of the Yards. Some of those vaccination clinics have also been in Catholic parishes, including one at St. Gall Parish, 5511 S. Sawyer Ave.

The Archdiocese of Chicago has urged everyone to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible, and has been running an awareness campaign since vaccines became available.

Dominican Father Paul Whittington, pastor of St. Katharine Drexel Parish, said he was delighted when he was asked if his parish could host a vaccination event.

“I know how difficult it was for me to get the vaccine,” Whittington said on March 30, while still awaiting his second dose. “As I continue to watch the news and read the papers, you can see the difficulties people are having finding access to the vaccine. We’ve got the space and the facility to be able to do this.”

He also has seen how the virus has affected the Black community, Whittington said, noting that most of his parishioners are Black and many are elderly.

“We actually are specifically looking at churches and houses of worship that are reaching the Black community and the Latinx community, but also immigrants and refugees who might have limited English proficiency,” Hone said, noting that St. Ferdinand has many parishioners who immigrated from Poland.

Churches also tend to be highly trusted community institutions, Hone said, so their involvement could reassure people who might be skeptical about vaccines.

Whittington said he has not seen a reluctance on the part of his parishioners to get vaccines.

“They’re on the hunt for them,” he said, adding that it would be an additional blessing for parishioners in the neighborhood to not have to drive far.

Hone said she hopes the program can be expanded.

“It hasn’t been hard to find churches to do this at all,” she said. “I think nearly every house of worship in the city would do this if we asked them.”

For more information and resources on the archdiocese’s vaccination campaign, visit



  • covid-19
  • vaccine

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