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Renew My Church

On July 1, St Edmund’s and Ascension will officially unite as one parish with Fr. Rex Pillai as our Pastor. As you can imagine, there is much to do administratively to ensure a successful transition. But perhaps an even more important task is that of joining our hearts and minds into one new and vibrant community.
To that end, a small team made up of members of both parishes has begun to meet – the Ascension/St Edmund Unification Team. This team’s purpose is to begin weaving a new cloth out of our individual parish fabrics – to help us all form a new faith community.
This is not our task alone – we are simply the conduits to help us all come together. In the coming months, we will be sharing news of our activities and plans in this space, and by other means (social media, parish websites, etc). On designated Sundays, we will be available after masses to talk with you and will seek your feedback through additional channels. We understand that this process may be difficult, exciting, frustrating, and hopeful – all at the same time! But by sharing what’s in our hearts and on our minds with each other, we believe we can create a new community that we are all proud to be members of.
We invite you to contact us through our new email account: [email protected] Tell us what’s on your mind about the unification of our parishes. We will consider all feedback as we move forward. We look forward to sharing this journey with you!
St. Edmund: Deacon Tom Dwyer, Denise Walsh, Mary Darnall and David Eilers
Ascension: Lisa Reed, Peter Kaye, Michaelene Malonowski and Deb Pastors
Oak Park Renew My Church Grouping Summary

November 2021

We are grateful for the opportunity to submit feedback to you.  The pastors and pastoral leaders, parish delegates, and the hundreds of parishioners who participated in this process look forward to your feedback and response.  We would like to continue and expand our collaborative ministry together.  We are excited to continue inspiring disciples to accompany all members of our family of faith to a deeper personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Following our participation in an extensive discernment process, members of the Oak Park Grouping Team have agreed on several foundational principles, reflected in the Feedback and Implementation Considerations below.

•    The Grouping Team has enthusiastically embraced the call to recognize that our four parishes are diverse parts of a single Church and welcomes the opportunity to form structures that will allow our existing communities to collaborate, grow out ministries, and evangelize our community together. Our Grouping has embraced our proposals to combine our efforts even at the expense of existing structures, and has been most resistant to proposals that would preserve the status quo at any member parish.

•    The Grouping Team has also benefitted from the energetic and engaged lay leadership of its member parishes and believes that the success of any scenario will depend on the recognition that our flock should be led by a pastor or pastors who will take advantage of that energy, informed by the Spirit of Vatican II.

•    In accordance with our parishes’ strong commitment to social justice, our Grouping would also welcome the creative repurposing of existing redundant facilities to new purposes that would serve the needs of our community.

•    Finally, in part due to this same commitment to social justice, our Grouping Team asks that the Commission reject any scenario that would simply close the St. Catherine-St. Lucy church (“SCSL”). As set forth below, SCSL, serves as a visible reminder of the interrelationship between suburban Oak Park and Chicago’s underserved west side, and maintaining that church as a place of worship provides a unique opportunity to support not only future evangelization efforts but existing partnership with other Catholic resources in our community.

•    Leadership: this Grouping is blessed with substantial lay leadership, informed by the spirit of Vatican II. Every parish has active and engaged parishioners, who have proven track records of participating and contributing to the liturgical and administrative lives of their parishes and engaging in social justice work in the world beyond the parishes. The ambitious plans preferred by the Grouping Team reflect the engaged and energetic lay leadership present here.

•    The ordained leadership chosen to shepherd this diverse and highly engaged flock is critical to the Grouping’s success in carrying out the Renew My Church mission. Depending on which scenario is chosen, there will be a need for one or several pastors, each faced with well-educated and engaged parishioners.  Additional associates will also be needed to support the unification and pastoral needs of the newly configured Grouping. It is important that the clergy chosen to be forward-looking and excited to create a vital Vatican II inspired Church.  Anyone who yearns for or wants to re-instate a pre-Vatican II Church would stifle the palpable energy and commitment of the people of these parishes, and ensure the failure of the Renew My Church effort. Success is never assured, but it would have a much greater chance if we the Church were led by clergy who share this vision.
We are grateful for the opportunity to submit this feedback to you.  The pastors and the pastoral leaders, parish delegates, and the hundreds of parishioners who participated in this process look forward to your feedback and response. We would like to continue and expand our collaborative ministry together.  We are excited to continue inspiring disciples to accompany all members of our family of faith to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Thank you for your prayerful reflection and consideration of this feedback regarding our future. 
The Official Decree from the Archdiocese of Chicago on the combining of Ascension and St. Edmund Parishes
The official document from the Archdiocese can be read HERE
The Renew My Church Process
Dear Community Members, 

You are invited to a special meeting on March the 8th at 7 PM.  You may attend “live” in St. Giles McDonough Hall or you will have the opportunity to participate in the meeting on line via Zoom. Here is the link:
Meeting ID: 828 3992 3921
Passcode: 322704
The purpose of this gathering is to share information and help understand our continuing Renew My Church Process. We will learn more about how this journey is both Spiritual – re- encountering Jesus Christ as disciples and parish communities – as well as Structural – ensuring our parishes have adequate resources for vitality.

We will learn more about this phase we are now in, Organization Transition, moving which will in turn move us to the third phase (Building Our New Reality).

There will be one meeting for all four parishes as we are merged into two new parish realities while still keeping some of our Oak Park Grouping connections we have already established. Please plan now to join us for this informative meeting, Tuesday March 8th, at 7 PM. 
Ascension, St. Catherine/St. Lucy, St. Edmund, St. Giles  

January 29, 2022 

Dear Parishioners of the Oak Park Parishes, 

We, your priests, write to share with you the results of the Renew My Church parish configurations.  The pages that follow contains the official document coming from the Archdiocese of Chicago. You will  find that the information is detailed, but offers a clear direction for building the new parochial reality that  we shall soon begin to implement.  
We are gratified that Cardinal Cupich, the auxiliary bishops, the archdiocese’s Presbyteral Council and the administrative leadership of Renew My Church, in coming to their decision, ultimately agreed with and chose to adopt much of what the Oak Park parish representatives had presented to them. To that end, we wish to thank so many of you who were involved in this lengthy but important process. The Grouping Members from the 4 parishes met regularly for months to pray about and discuss how to move forward in a manner that would honor our past, address current challenging realities and develop a blueprint for future. We are immensely grateful to them. 

In addition, we wish to thank our parish Pastoral Staffs with whom we have had many discussions  and from whom we have gained important insight for moving forward. Our Parish Councils have also  been involved in these arduous and challenging discussions and we thank them sincerely for all the ways  that they have guided us, encouraged us and offered valuable input to us. 

Finally, we offer our heartfelt gratitude to you, our beloved parishioners, who have prayed along with  us for a noble outcome, who have shared your thoughts and opinions with us and who have stayed the course, trusting that we would always have your best interest in mind as we addressed both the practical and pastoral needs of our 4 communities of faith. 

The decision: 
Ascension and St. Edmund Parishes will unite as one parish, effective July 1, 2022. Fr. Rex Pillai  will become the pastor of this united parish. 

St. Catherine / St. Lucy and St. Giles Parishes will unite as one parish, effective July 1, 2022. Fr.  Carl Morello will become pastor of this united parish. 
Let us continue to pray for one another as we embark upon this new and exciting time. Challenges are sure to arise, but let us recall what St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians tells us: “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.” Let us, therefore, walk forward together in unity, embracing the new reality that we are asked to become and choosing to trust that the Holy Spirit shall walk along with us every step of this sacred journey. 

May our Lord bless us all. 
Fr. John McGivern 
Pastor, St. Edmund Parish
Pastor Administrator, St. Catherine/St. Lucy Parish 
Fr. Carl Morello 
St. Giles Parish 
Administrator, Ascension Parish

Fr. Rex Pillai
Associate Pastor, Ascension Parish 


Oak Park Renew My Church Update: January 2022 from the Archdiocese of Chicago

Discernment Process  

Ascension, St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy, St. Edmund and St. Giles Parishes engaged in the Renew My  Church (RMC) review and discernment process over the past few months. The Grouping Feedback and  Discernment team (GFDT), which was made up of members from each community, met to review and discern  the future parish structure for the area. Our deepest appreciation goes to the GFDT who prayerfully discerned  the parish structure during this challenging time of the pandemic.  

Based on their meetings and feedback gathered from the larger parish community, they submitted feedback to  the archdiocese, which included hope and commitment to work as a united Oak Park Catholic community  regardless of the specific parish structure decided.  

The Archdiocesan Standards and Recommendations Commission, which includes representatives from across  the Archdiocese of Chicago, reviewed the feedback and other information, including financial summaries and  parish trends.  

Cardinal Cupich and Bishop Birmingham are grateful to Fr. Morello, Fr. McGivern, Fr. Pillai and the Grouping  Team who gathered together, and all who offered feedback through the recent discernment process.  



In the past few weeks, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, the archdiocese’s auxiliary bishops,  and the archdiocese’s Presbyteral Council met to discuss the Commission’s recommendation. Based upon  those discussions and prayerful consideration, Cardinal Cupich made the following decisions regarding the  parish structure in this grouping.  

The parishes will be structured as two parishes, with expectations that pastors and leadership teams  will continue the collaboration that has already begun across Oak Park. This reflects the hope and  commitment expressed by the grouping team to work in concert as an Oak Park Catholic community.  


 Ascension and St. Edmund will unite as one parish effective July 1, 2022.  

o Both churches will continue to host a regular schedule of Masses. The specific schedule will  be determined by the pastor in consultation with parish leadership.  

o Ascension will formally be designated the parish church where the united parish’s sacramental  records will be kept.  

o Fr. Rex Pillai will serve as pastor of the united parish.  

o The local community will discern possibilities for the permanent name of the united parish, within  guidelines provided by the archdiocese, and submit three to five options to Cardinal Cupich.  Each  church retains its name.  

o Ascension School will serve as the parish-governed school.  


 St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy and St. Giles will unite as one parish, effective July 1, 2022.  o St. Giles will formally be designated the parish church where the united parish’s sacramental  records will be kept. 

o St. Catherine St. Lucy Church will remain sacred space with the worship schedule to be determined  by the pastor in consultation with parish leadership. This may or may not include a regularly  scheduled Sunday Mass.  

o Fr. Carl Morello will serve as pastor of the united parish.  

o St. Giles School will serve as the parish-governed school.  

o St. Catherine St. Lucy School will continue in its current structure supported by Big Shoulders with  pastoral support provided by the parish.  

o The local community will discern possibilities for the permanent name of the united parish, within  guidelines provided by the archdiocese, and submit three to five options to Cardinal Cupich.  Each  church retains its name.  

 Based on the hopes and commitment expressed by the grouping during the discernment process, the  archdiocese affirms the Oak Park grouping’s vision to use St. Catherine St. Lucy campus as a  base for powerful ministry outreach to the West Side of Chicago. Ministry outreach efforts will be  supported by the entire Oak Park Catholic community. 


 The archdiocesan RMC Commission was grateful for the excitement from many in the grouping to work as  one united Oak Park Catholic community, with the possibility of formally uniting in one parish.   Considering long-term priest placement needs and not wanting to lock into a parish structure that may not  be manageable for future pastors, the archdiocesan RMC Commission proposed structuring the parishes as  two parishes would be the most prudent decision at this time.  

 Retaining two parishes at four campuses provides flexibility for future priest placement and also avoids  complexity that would result in Ascension and St. Giles Schools being under the same parish entity. The  archdiocese remains grateful for the support of Big Shoulders and Fenwick’s partnerships at St. Catherine  St. Lucy School.  

 Being structured as two parishes does not preclude efforts to work as a united Oak Park Catholic  community. To best serve the areas of Oak Park, Austin and Galewood with two parishes, the archdiocese  encourages parish leaders to continue to share ministries.  

 The archdiocesan RMC Commission clearly heard the grouping’s desire to retain all four churches and  supports continuing all as church buildings retaining their sacred character.  

o The pastor and parish leadership team of the newly united St. Catherine-St. Lucy and St. Giles  parishes will provide a recommendation regarding the frequency of worship at St. Catherine-St.  Lucy Church, which may or may not include a regularly scheduled Sunday Mass.  

 The archdiocesan RMC Commission encourages the Oak Park Catholic community to collaborate with the  West Side Catholic community to envision how best to collectively address the spiritual and social needs of  their shared ministry areas. This includes using the resources of both communities as well as their physical  presence at St. Catherine St. Lucy, St. Martin de Porres, St. Agatha, and other Catholic institutions serving  the community.  

Next steps  

 The renewal process calls us to become a stronger, more sustainable presence for the future capable of  reaching more people in their work of making disciples of Jesus Christ, building communities with one  another and inspiring witness in the world around us.  

 The newly united parish communities will embark upon the next phase of renewal, focusing on strong  evangelization to the world around us. We know that this structural change is just the beginning of our  journey of renewal.  

 Renewal of our Church means that every Catholic, every searcher, and everyone who loves Jesus and his  Church, will have to look anew at what it means to be Jesus’ disciple and to live out that discipleship. 

 Profound gratitude to all involved in the process to date, and prayers for all those who will take up the next phase of renewal, sharing faith and evangelizing those searching to know Jesus more deeply.

Renew My Church Update from the Archdiocese of Chicago
January 2022
Dear Parishioners,

We are pleased that Bishop Kevin Birmingham, our regional bishop and Cardinal Cupich’s representative to our region of the archdiocese, will be with us on Friday, January 28, at 8:00pm, to join us in prayer and share an important update on the future of our parishes. This will be held online.
Please go to www.renewmychurch.org/announcements for details about how to access the meeting from your computer or smartphone. You can go on the site today to register for the virtual announcement on January 28, 2022.
Discernment Team Feedback to the Archdiocese
November 2021
Dear Ascension Faith Community,
On November 16, the Renew My Church Grouping Discernment Team put the finishing touches on a feedback document to the Archdiocese, and with that, completed the first phase of the Renew My Church (RMC) process.
RMC is a comprehensive effort by the Archdiocese to revitalize the church in order to make disciples, strengthen and build communities, and inspire witness to faith in Jesus Christ. This first phase was devoted to determining which of six scenarios would result in the best use of buildings and ministries to carry out that mission. Perhaps you took the opportunity to attend some of the information and feedback sessions about the scenarios or participated in the Novena With a Twist that was part of this process.
The Grouping Team used data, its own experience, your feedback, and Foundational Principles provided by the Archdiocese, to determine the best scenarios for Oak Park. The Team is making two recommendations to the Archdiocesan RMC Commission: a two-parish scenario (with two different pairings of the parishes) and a one parish scenario. It is important to remember that the Team’s role was to discern and recommend, not to decide. That resides with the Cardinal. 
Next steps are for the Writing Team members—a group that wrote up the work of the entire Team, consisting of one person from each of the parishes—to present the feedback to the Executive Committee of the RMC Commission on December 7. The Executive Committee will then make a recommendation to the full Commission, which refers up to the Vicar and Presbyteral Council and finally to Cardinal Cupich. He will announce his decision for the new structure for the churches in Oak Park on January 28.
During its last meeting, the team members talked about the process, and expressed their gratitude for aspects of the work they had done together. “I’m grateful for the people I’ve met from the other parishes through this process”; “I’m grateful for the openness and lack of defensiveness”; “I’m grateful for the support of the smaller parishes by the Team”; “I’m grateful for the hope and excitement I feel about the future of our church in Oak Park”. These were just some of the team members’ comments. The overall sentiment was one of gratitude for the opportunity to participate on the Team and for the work it did together. 
After January 28, all parishioners will have the opportunity to engage in the next phase of Building the New Reality.
Let us continue our Advent journey to celebrate the birth of the One who fulfils all of our hopes and longings. 

Fr. Rex



 Call to Prayer


As the Renew My Church process in Oak Park unfolds, it is essential to ask the Holy Spirit to continue to guide us and all those who will be making recommendations and decisions. Therefore, the parishioners of Ascension, St. Catherine/St. Lucy, St. Edmund, and St. Giles will be coming together to participate in a prayer novena (nine days of continuous prayer). 


The Novena will begin on Sunday, November 7 at our weekend liturgies.  For the next eight days, you are invited to participate in daily prayer with Renew My Church as the intention.  Some ideas to inspire you include:

1.   Attend daily Mass
              Monday - Friday at 8:15 am
     St. Catherine/St. Lucy
              Tuesday at 8:30 am
              Wednesday at 8:30 am
     St. Edmund
              Monday at 8:30 am
              Friday at 8:30 am
     St. Giles
             Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6:30 am
             Tuesday and Thursday at 8:30 am
             Saturday at 8 am 
 2.    Visit another Oak Park Church for personal prayer 
 3.    Participate in Contemplative Prayer (Ascension Parish - Saturday mornings at 8:30 am)
 4.    Participate in Eucharistic Adoration (St. Giles Parish - Thursday at 7:00 pm)
 5.    Truth and Justice for Racial Healing (Zoom – Thursday at 7:00 pm)
 6.    Walk a Labyrinth.  Some labyrinths in the area are located at Ascension Catholic Church courtyard, Dominican University, and First United Church (corner of Kenilworth and Lake Streets)
 7.    Pray the Rosary for Peace (St. Giles Parish – Saturday following 8:00 am Mass)
 8.    Color a Mandala
 9.    Take a 30-minute silent walk in nature
10.   Sit silently for 30 minutes.

The Renew My Church Novena will conclude with an Evening Prayer Service on Monday, November 15 at St. Edmund Parish at 7:00 pm.


Novena Prayer for Oak Park Grouping Renew My Church


Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. And kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you will renew the face of the earth.

We call upon you as members of Ascension, St. Catherine/St. Lucy, St. Edmund and St. Giles Parishes to aid us in our discernment for your people. We trust in your guidance and in the gifts you have showered upon us: wisdom, knowledge, understanding, courage, reverence, right judgment, and wonder and awe.

Assist us, we pray:

to hear you clearly

to listen to each other attentively

to imagine our future boldly

to discern your direction wisely

to persevere in your holy will courageously

to stay together in charity to surrender our own plans readily

to embrace the greater good to hand on your gifts to future generations.

Enlighten our minds to discover the path you lay out for us that our combined efforts open hearts to faithful discipleship in Christ Jesus. Amen.



October 5, 2021


Dear Ascension Community,


We need your help! As Ascension Parish goes through the Renew My Church process with our neighboring Oak Park parishes, we are at a stage where a list of scenarios have been created and feedback from our parishioners is needed.


On October 4th, our parish gathered to hear about the Renew My Church efforts of the Oak Park Parish Grouping.  We recognize getting away on a weeknight is not easy, so we did tape it and it is available here: 

You can also access it on our YouTube channel here. The recording will provide all the information, we hope, that will allow you to offer your feedback to us to aid us in decision making.   


To assist the small team representing Ascension in providing feedback to our larger Oak Park Grouping, we need you to offer your feedback. To offer feedback, please view the meeting recording via the link above, then access the feedback form here: Renew My Church Feedback Form (pdf). (Below is a link to a Word version of the form). Once you complete the form you can place it in the collection basket at church, drop it in the Parish Center mailbox at 808 S. East Ave, or email it to [email protected]. We must receive these forms or emails by this Sunday, October 10. Please know that your feedback is very important as decisions will be made based on suggestions from our parishioners. 


If you would like to review the scenarios in written form one more time, you can find them below, or click here to view them. If you have a different scenario in mind that is not suggested in the materials provided, please add that on your feedback form.


We thank you for your participation in this important process.  We know that our parish church is important to you.  You and your families are important to us and we want to be able to continue to serve our parishioners in the future.


Please submit all feedback by this Sunday, October 10, 2021, either via the collection basket or, better yet, to our specially designated email address: [email protected].


Thank you for making the time to provide us with this important feedback. 

Dear Ascension Community Members,
We invite you to lend your voice and efforts to the possible ways in which our communities are being called to the Renew My Church (RMC) process. Renewal requires envisioning, planning and a new way to bring Jesus Christ to others. To that end we are sharing with you some offered scenarios showing potential models of how our parishes could be configured in the near future. These scenarios are being shared with you for your review and discussion at each respective parish meeting. Please read the scenarios here. The pdf is also included above. Please mark your calendar for an open parish meeting to discuss and have questions answered regarding these scenarios. The meeting will be held on Monday, October 4, at 7:00 pm in the Church (please note the location change). We will also livestream the meeting. You can join us from home via our YouTube channel at


We hope you take the time to read through the scenarios, consider them, and share your feedback for what might be the best structure that enables us to breathe renewed life into our efforts to make disciples, build our communities and inspire witness to who we are as followers of Jesus Christ.
We hope you take the time to read through the scenarios, consider them and what might be the best structure that enables us to breathe renewed life into our efforts to make disciples, build our communities and inspire witness to who we are as followers of Jesus Christ.




Fr. Carl Morello

   Pastor, St. Giles Parish, Administrator, Ascension Parish

Fr. Rex Pillai

   Associate Pastor, Ascension Parish  

Dear Ascension Faith Community, 
Imagine a group of dispirited followers of Jesus who had locked themselves in an upper room amidst fear and suspicion. The room was occupied by a group of followers who were afraid that they would suffer the same fate as their master. So, they listened to every step on the stair; they waited for the knock of the executioner; they prayed that no one would discover their hiding-place and that the world would leave them safe in their sacred enclosure. However, that was not to be. The Holy Spirit changed their plans. Little did they realize that the Holy Spirit was not shy of the boundaries and barriers that people erect. The Holy Spirit cannot be stopped by locked doors and locked hearts. As one writer pointed out that ‘when the Spirit comes, it is not like a spring breeze that whispers unnoticed through a room; it is more like a hurricane that lays flat all the precious protections against its force.’ And the Spirit takes this group of dispirited followers and fires them with a new energy and a new enthusiasm and a new authority.  
Some 2000 years later as those who have been baptized in the same Spirit, and called, we are the forebears of those in that upper room. As you are well aware, the Renew My Church is back in motion. Each small team from the four sites of Saints Catherine and Lucy, Saint Edmund, Saint Giles and Ascension will meet with our Archdiocesan Facilitator for our fourth meeting on Tuesday, September 21st. At this meeting we will continue to look at and discuss initial scenarios for the future of Oak Park and greater Catholic communities that are also a part of our parish communities. These scenarios are meant to bring to the table many creative possibilities to best use ministries and buildings for making disciples, strengthening and building communities, and inspiring witness to faith in Jesus Christ.  


What is a scenario? It is considering how parishes might unite to be stronger together, or what would allow a parish to stand alone, fulfilling all as mentioned above. In looking at a vision for the future, the spiritual and structural renewal to which we are called are dependent upon one another. We must consider the best and the most efficient stewardship of our resources.  
Once these scenarios are decided upon they will be brought forth to the parish. We plan to send them out on Friday, September 24, 2021. There will be an open parish meeting on October 3rd or October 4th   to which all parishioners of respective parishes are invited to review these scenarios and offer feedback regarding the scenarios. As mentioned, these meetings will take place in each parish on the same weekend and on the same day and time. We will keep you posted on the date and time for this meeting here at Ascension. We plan to share more information with you as and when they become available. Thank you for your support and prayers as we continue this process of Renew My Church. Let us pray for one another. 
Fr. Carl Morello, Administrator                      Fr. Rex Pillai, Associate Pastor 
June 2021

An Update on Renew My Church

A Letter from Fr. Carl and Fr. Rex

This letter can also be found in the bulletin for June 13, 2021


Dear Ascension Parishioners,


The heart of our Renew My Church effort is the parish grouping process—the goal of which is to ensure that all parishes across the archdiocese have the vision, leadership, resources, and operational foundation necessary to create an effective culture of evangelization that makes disciples, builds communities, and inspires witness.


Changing church attendance patterns over many decades has left many parishes heavily burdened by operational and financial concerns that limit their ability to have expansive ministry programs around evangelization and discipleship formation. A decreasing number of priests available to serve at parishes creates a need to rethink our leadership model to include a stronger lay leadership core team with proper governance structures for accountability. There is a need to ensure that we have a common understanding of proven evangelization programs and processes that are rooted in Catholic teaching.


All 344 parishes in the diocese have been joined into 98 groupings. Within these groupings, parishes will determine opportunities for collaboration and unity following a structured process for discernment, transition, and building a future together.


Many of today’s challenges require looking and working beyond our individual parish. The only way to make sustainable change in our communities is to work together in new and bold ways. Groupings are called to greater collaboration to take on these challenges with bold vision.


Our grouping consists of the 4 Oak Park parishes. Grouping parishes together allows for local-level ownership and planning to take place and ensures that local feedback is present within the process of renewal. Grouping allows for assessment of new parish models. Additionally, parish groupings help strengthen relationships between parishes, provide a better evaluation of the current realities within their community, make for a clearer discernment of what configuration would be best for their community, and more effectively identify what they each have to share and what the spiritual renewal in their community will look like.


A set of parishes is considered a good grouping if they: are reasonably close geographically. serve the same broader community (e.g. the parishes serve the same public-school district). have obvious commonalities and affinities (e.g. parishioners occasionally attend mass at more than one parish in the grouping).


Here at Ascension Parish, after much consultation and consideration, the 5 members of our parish grouping are: Maryanne Polega, Annie Bookmeier, Lisa Reed, Tom Gull, and Jim Schwarber. Mary Catherine Meek is the parish Pastoral Staff Member on the group and all  of these individuals have demonstrated leadership and wisdom in a variety of ways in the parish.


The first meeting took place on Tuesday, June 8th. There will be several gatherings throughout the course of the next several months. Our goal is to create a few scenarios for what the new Catholic footprint will be in the Oak Park area. Once submitted, Cardinal Cupich will make the final determination as to what changes will actually be made.


We will continue to update you with information when it is made available. Please pray for the success of these proceedings and that they will indeed serve to make a more vibrant, healthy and sustainable Catholic community for everyone who currently worships at the 4 Oak Park parishes.



Fr. Carl Morello, Ascension Church Administrator &

Fr. Rex Pillai, Associate Pastor


February 26, 2021

Dear Ascension Parish Family,

This week, we are sharing a letter sent to the four Oak Park parishes from Bishop Manz. The letter outlines a time frame for our parishes to begin the Renew My Church, or RMC, process. The Renew My Church mission has as its priorities making disciples, evangelization and vocations, building communities, leadership development, mission vitality, operating stability, and finally, inspiring witness by our faith in action. All of these priorities stem from this fact, WE ARE CALLED BY JESUS CHRIST! The journey is meant to be spiritual, bringing people to a life-giving relationship in Jesus Christ, as well as the necessary changes that are needed in the structure and operations of our parishes. This is a quick overview of much of what RMC will require of each parish as we enter the process this June.

Please read the letter and join us in praying that the Holy Spirit, always with us, gives us wisdom, courage and guidance as we move toward this process.


Fr. Carl and Fr. Rex

This past January, Ascension parish council and staff joined the parish councils and staff of our fellow Oak Park parishes for an introductory zoom presentation on the RMC process.