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Gives thanks for three great mentor priests

By Dolores Madlener | Staff writer
Sunday, April 10, 2011

Father "Bernie" Pietrzak, pastor at St. Anne Church in Barrington, is more than a fair-weather Cubs fan. (Darrell Harmon / Catholic New World)

He is: Father Bernard J. Pietrzak, pastor since 2009 of St. Anne’s in Barrington. Former dean of Vicariate 1-F. Former pastor of St. Raymond de Penafort, in Mount Prospect. Ordained in 1981.

Roots: Far South East Side of Chicago. “The Great 10th Ward -- St. Florian Church. The parish went through a lot when the mills went under, but they’re holding their own. I have a sister four years younger than I. Mother still works three days a week at the local hardware store in St. Florian’s and lives above my sister and brother-in-law. 
“Dad worked in the mills all his life, a foreman at U.S. Steel. I grew up about four blocks from Mann Park. In summer we’d be gone from 9 a.m. until noon, home for lunch, back out at 1, home at 5, then after dinner, out until the street lights were on. Not like today when parents spend all that time arranging play dates and driving kids here and there.”

Priesthood: “We were blessed with exemplary priests at the parish who took a real interest in the people, adults, kids, or families who were struggling. We had great young nuns. The order’s now called Franciscan Sisters of Chicago.
“When I became an associate pastor I had some of the finest mentors. At St. Victor’s in Calumet City, Father Leo Mahon was a visionary and fine preacher; Father John Finnes at Holy Cross in Deerfield had a sense of structure and organization, and Father George Kane at Church of the Holy Spirit in Schaumburg was an excellent pastoral theologian. Each had a different set of gifts and skills.”

Prayer life: “I’m using a lectionary-based book called “Wondrous Encounters” by Father Richard Rohr. He takes the daily Scriptures and offers some thoughts about the whole journey of Lent, from conversion to a deeper recognition of God’s movement in our lives. I also meet every other week with four men in the parish. We use Rohr’s daily reflection as a springboard to share our own journey in faith.”

Leisure: “In the summer I attempt to golf. I’m a diehard Cub fan. One of the gifts I got when I left St. Raymond’s was the opportunity to throw out a first pitch at a Cubs game. I was a fan on the South East Side – my dad, grandfather and his brothers were all Cub fans. I took a lot of abuse growing up – but it deepened my commitment! Favorite Cubs: Ryan Dempster -- beyond being a fine pitcher – what he gives back to the community. I’m also a great fan of Terry Wood. It was a special moment for two other priests and myself to be on the altar at the cathedral for Ron Santo’s funeral. Afterwards I had a chance to meet some of my Cub heroes like Glen Beckert, Ernie Banks and Ferguson Jenkins. 
His latest hobby is learning to cook. “No, learning to grill. Without a rectory cook, it’s a necessity, and it’s coming along slowly but surely.”

Favorite saint: “St. Ignatius of Loyola. I’ve always admired the Jesuit spirituality, contemplation, action and social justice -- that spirit of working to transform society.”

Favorite Scripture verse: “From St. John: ‘I’ve come that you might have life, and have it to the full.’”

Life’s highlight: “It has been a challenge to become pastor of a large parish like St. Anne’s. My 14 years as pastor at St. Raymond’s have served me well.”