Parish honors music minister for her 62 years of service

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Parish honors music minister for her 62 years of service

On June 12, 2022, parishioners at St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Church in Posen honored Jeanette Dandurand, the music director, for 62 years of service. Posen Mayor Podbielnak dedicated the block in front of the parish in Jeanette’s honor with a sign in her name, and a special Mass and reception was held after the dedication. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Parishioners, family and former students wait with Jeanette for a big surprise outside the parish. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Posen Mayor Frank Podbielniak prepares to expose the street sign. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Family, parishioners and former students cheer as the sign is revealed. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
The sign. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Former students and choir members greet Jeanette after the sign is revealed. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Photographer Helen Herbst prepares to capture memories of the celebration for her long-time friend. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Jeanette greets parishioners and staff holding a stack of cards and flowers. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Tina Hahn greets Jeanette as she makes her way to Mass. Tina worked with Jeanette for many years. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Jeanette is congratulated as she is escorted into Mass. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Jeanette Dandurand was a newlywed in 1960 when she approached the pastor of St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Parish in Posen and told him that she could help by playing the organ.

“The nuns taught me, and I knew the Polish songs,” said Dandurand, now 83. She learned to play the piano and organ in grade school at St. Susanna in Harvey.

When the regular organist wouldn’t show up, she would play, and eventually, she became the regular organist.

She was still the music minister when St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr Church, now part of a combined parish with St. Christopher in Midlothian, hosted its last regularly scheduled Sunday Mass July 24.

She was lauded by the parish June 12 for her 62 years of service with the installation of an honorary street sign, a Mass and a dinner.

The event was a surprise for Dandurand, who was expecting to play for a reunion Mass for one of the classes of the former parish school.

To make Dandurand believe the ruse, one of her friends went so far as to make two versions of the parish bulletin so Dandurand wouldn’t know anything about it.

They had to do it that way, according to Tina Hahn, who worked in the office of St. George School in Tinley Park when Dandurand played the organ for school Masses and taught music to the students once a week.

“She’s like the person in the parable who is invited to a party and takes the lowest seat at table,” Hahn said. “If she knew about it, she wouldn’t have shown up.”

Unless, maybe, she thought she could help.

Dandurand and her husband, Francis, had six children, 20 grandchildren and now 10 great-grandchildren. After St. Stanislaus’ school closed, she had grandchildren attending St. George. She went to a grandparents’ Mass there, and there was no music.

“I thought, ‘I could play the organ,’” she said.

The principal didn’t have money for a music teacher, but could pay her to play at school Masses. She said she wouldn’t do it unless she could go into the classrooms to teach students the songs.

“You could hear them all through the hallways,” Hahn said. “It was a gift to anyone who had ears to hear them.”

She also planned a Christmas program each year, and a spring program for students who would perform at area nursing homes.

Father Robinson Ortiz, pastor of St. Stanislaus and St. Christopher Parish, said the whole Dandurand family has been heavily involved in the parish, with her husband making many of the wood furnishings for the sanctuary.

But one of Dandurand’s most important contributions was the way she welcomed Hispanic Catholics who moved into the parish in the early 2000s, Ortiz said.

“For daily Mass, she would play Spanish songs because that’s who was there,” Ortiz said.

She has been an important part of the liturgy team for decades, he said.

“She’s an expert. She’s very good in liturgy,” Ortiz said. “She prepares all the ceremonies. She’s very easy to work with. She worked with Spanish choir, she was a very good instrument to make that bridge.”

For her part, Dandurand said she started in the pre-Vatican II era, when everything was in Latin and Polish at the parish. As the changes of Vatican II were implemented, she had to learn about the new liturgical norms. For the last 15 years or so, she has worked to incorporate Spanish songs at St. Stan’s.

“There are thousands of them,” she said. “And they know them all by heart.”


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