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Turn to Jesus (Article)

“Loving and Caring” for the Archdiocese:
Chicago consecrated women serve local parishes and vicariate

Chicago team
The team of consecrated women in Chicago.

Northlake, Illinois -- It is during one of the rare “days off” for the Chicago-area consecrated women of Regnum Christi that you can learn a lot about them.  Monday’s are called “community” day, and if you happen to visit on this day, you will likely hear laughter and music ringing through the house as the women recreate together, enjoy playing dominoes and board games and listening to their favorite songs on the small iPod speaker system.

This relaxing day, however, is an oasis in the busy lives of the women in this community.  The group has cultivated a very productive work environment at their home parish, within their vicariate and in the Archdiocese of Chicago as a whole.

According to Mary Maher, the Director of the consecrated women in Chicago, the women work well together because of their philosophy of life. “The key to our success is two-fold: prayer and team life,” she said.  “We are deeply united in Christ and our shared consecration.  The love we receive and share here at home drives us out to minister to others.”

Thirteen women live together in a former convent at St. John Vianney Parish in NorthLake, IL.  They also help a great deal within the life of their parish.   

“It’s truly a joy to help our dedicated pastor Fr. Tom Refermatt, and his associate Fr. Luke, in attending to the families of St. John Vianney,” said Mary.  “Whether it’s teaching CCD, speaking to the school children, challenging the girls to a game of basketball or reading at mass, we feel right at home. The first place we want to serve is our home parish.”    

One of the consecrated women, Saira Herboth, serves as the Coordinator of Religious Education for the parish.  Others, like Katelyn Moroney, teach catechism classes.

“Our local Legionary priests make themselves available to help too,” said Mary.  “They regularly say Mass at St. John Vianney and other parishes in the Archdiocese, and offer formation activities for families and youth.”

Their work, however, is not limited to their home parish.  Katelyn also helps with catechist certification classes for the Chicago Archdiocese, recently leading a class on the Catholic liturgy, sacraments and prayer for catechists in training in Vicariate IV.

“Whatever comes up – however we can help,” said Mary.  “We are here to serve. It’s not about our programs; it’s about helping each parish, each family, each person, to know the love of Jesus
mission in Chicago
Marian Catholic students pray with a mother during missions.
and embrace their Catholic faith.”

“Mary has encouraged us to serve the diocese in the structures they have set up,” said Katelyn.

 “Getting to Know You”

How were these women, as well as the LC priests, able to make these opportunities happen?  The women will tell you it is by making a concerted effort.

“We try to get out there, meet people and develop sincere relationships,” said Mary. “As women, we have hearts that were made to love.  John Paul II spoke of the spiritual motherhood exercised by consecrated women as a gift for mankind.  We want to accompany people on their journey.”
The words from the famous musical “The King and I” seem very apropos here -- “Getting to know you, getting to know all about you. Getting to like you, getting to hope you like me.”

Both the consecrated women and the Legionaries of Christ in Chicago have a close relationship to their Archbishop, Francis Cardinal George, who has visited their home to say Mass and dine with them. 

“Cardinal George has been very open to us and very supportive, truly a spiritual father,” said Mary.

They also introduced themselves to the Director of the Respect Life Office, and other Archdiocesan employees, especially the Youth Ministry Coordinators.  They were invited to attend regular meetings in their vicariate, and in others as well.  The consecrated sought to help out with Archdiocesan activities, and also began inviting members of the Archdiocese to come to local Regnum Christi events.  Over time, real friendships and on-going collaboration developed.

“We want to be part of our Archdiocese. We are one Body, one family. Movements exist to serve the local Church,” said Mary.

The consecrated asked diocesan leaders, such as the Vocations Director, the Director of the Respect Life Office, and the personal secretary of the Cardinal to come and speak at their own youth and women’s events.

“I think mutual trust and respect have been key,” said Mary. “People don’t feel threatened by us, because we truly respect them and support what they are doing.  I hope the members of our diocese feel loved and cared for by the consecrated women.”

The Fruits are Evident

These efforts to build relationships within the archdiocese have born great fruit, leading to several invitations by the vicariate and diocesan leaders for the consecrated to help with various programs. 

The Dominican sisters of Springfield, who run Marian Catholic High School in
domino game
The Chicago team enjoys a game of dominoes.
Chicago Heights, IL, have invited the consecrated to run a Mission Youth club and help with school retreats. Katelyn Moroney recently preached a Lenten day of reflection for the students, sharing her experience after a mission trip to Haiti.  The consecrated also help teach religion classes at the school occasionally. 

“The best part about it is our friendship with the sisters,” said Mary.  “They are truly part of our family, and we learn a lot from them.”

The consecrated women were invited to serve as spiritual coaches and fundraisers for youth ministers interested in taking a group to the upcoming World Youth Day in Spain.  They were asked to run a retreat for all the youth ministers in Vicariate IV, and to assist different youth ministers in establishing their youth groups.  The consecrated were part of the Catholics Come Home team last year, and assisted in the implementation of this archdiocesan campaign last year, especially for the Hispanic parishes.

“These things were a direct result of our attending the Vicariate meetings,” said Mary. “It’s a matter of getting out there, discovering the needs, and offering to help out.”

The RC Mission corps volunteers (coworkers) assigned to Chicago have also lent a hand by making flyers for diocesan events when needed.  And the consecrated add such information to their Facebook page.

Crediting the Archdiocese

“Honestly, we can’t take credit for any of this,” said Mary. “It’s God’s grace leading us, showing us where our charism can fit in here in Chicago.  And our Archdiocese is open and supportive of Movements like ours.”

She said the Archdiocese holds an annual gathering with the Cardinal for the Movements and New Ecclesial Communities.  The most recent event took place in October, 2010 with the theme “Youth in the Church Today.”  Also, the archdiocesan liaison for the Movements, Mary Hallan FioRito, “does a great job keeping us connected to each other and to the local Church,” said Mary.

“Chicago is a great place to live, love and serve. Go Cubs!” smiled Mary, as she headed back to finish her “community” day dominoes tournament.



Related links

Official web site of the Vatican.
Legionaries of Christ
For Your Vocation
Mater Ecclesaie College

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