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Administrator's Message

Last Sunday marked a whole month since I have been back at St. Edna. Some people asked me how it feels to return to the parish after all this time.

I must say first, I have felt warmly welcomed! In some ways I feel like I’ve come home after a long absence. But I am also feeling my age. As I drive down the neighborhood streets by the parish house I can’t help but remember that once I had my morning run down these same streets. Those days are definitely over!

Also, some people have asked if I have noticed much of a change in the parish. Well yes, of course many things have changed. The rectory is now gone! When I go out of the back doors of the Doherty Center, I remember that was a grassy lawn – now it is the entrance to the Hurley Center and the Parish Office. And of course there are many new families who I am trying to get to know; trying to remember their names is difficult!

However, there are some aspects of parish life which remain but have now advanced and grown better after all these years. One is the focus on Religious Education and Adult Formation. When Cardinal Cody commissioned Fr. Doherty to begin a new parish in north Arlington Heights in the early 1960s, he told him that St. Edna would not ever have a Catholic School. So, from the very beginning, Fr. Doherty and the founding families knew that they would need to focus their parish on catechesis. Fr. Doherty, I was told, was determined to have the best religious education possible. Thus, the parish needed to hire the best Religious Education Director (DRE) that could be found.

In those days, this was quite a feat. The Archdiocese did not recognize Directors of Religious Education as a lay ministry until later in the 1970s. However, there were already some Universities which offered an MA in Religion, and trained lay men and women in Catechesis and Theology; Loyola’s Institute of Pastoral Studies being one of the most prominent in Chicago.

In the 1980s (when I was St. Edna’s associate), the professional staff expanded. The full time Director of Religious Education was given an assistant and full-time youth ministers where hired to form and lead the Youth Group (“Patches”.)  As I recall in those days, St. Edna’s youth formation and religious education programs involved almost a thousand children and young people. At the same time, our staff recruited and trained hundreds of parishioners as lay catechists and support volunteers.  The clear focus of the parish was on the formation and religious education of our children and young people.

What I did not realize in those days was that what we were doing at St. Edna would soon be the recognized as the pattern for most of the larger parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Today, Lay Ecclesial Ministry is part of the structure of the Archdiocese. There is hardly a Chicago parish now which does not have a professional DRE and many religious education volunteer teachers.

Today the tradition continues as we have three excellent professional religious educators on our staff; Lorie Crepeau, Heather Daudelin and Nancy Holpuch.

Another aspect of parish life that has remained consistent has been the involvement and the collaborative ministry of the lay parishioners. This is clearly connected to the example and ministerial professionalism of our lay staff. But it also springs from the invitation and endorsement of our clergy and religious. Over the years, thousands of parishioners have been trained and formed in various ministries as the needs of the parish dictated.

“Ministry”, a word once only associated with Protestant Churches, has been recognized to be the right and, in fact, the obligation of all who are baptized. Becoming a disciple of Jesus – which is what Baptism is all about – is not a passive membership in a “religious” organization. This is the planting of a seed which, if nurtured well, grows into action, spreading the Word, helping and ministering to others. Followers of Jesus, like his disciples in the New Testament, go out to the world and preach the gospel by their words and actions. So, this lay ministry also has been a consistent tradition here at St. Edna. Interestingly enough, it is through this ministerial involvement that the parish has remained vital and that parishioners feel active ownership of who we are.

In conclusion, I can tell you I feel that the core direction and values of St. Edna is very similar to what it was 30 years ago. In part this is because we have been blessed to have had some talented and dedicated lay ministerial staff members and parishioner leadership. So in one sense I can say “not much has changed!”

Fr. Bob

Rev. Robert Heidenreich