Catholic Community of Oak Park Social Ministry Center on the SCSL Campus

PUBLIC FORUM – Discussing a proposed plan for social ministry outreach to Austin residents from the St. Catherine of Siena – St. Lucy Campus

Since January of 2023, at Fr. Carl Morello’s direction, a group of volunteers from the Oak Park Catholic Community has been studying the feasibility of repurposing the unused rectory at St. Catherine – St. Lucy (SCSL) as a base for social ministry outreach to the residents of Austin. This initiative is a direct outgrowth of the third stated outcome of Renew My Church for the Oak Park Catholic Community:

“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… supported by the entire Oak Park Catholic community.”

A primary motivation of the Feasibility Study is addressing the needs in Austin, beginning with SCSL School families. This project will be an OP Catholic Community response to our neighbors’ identification of need. The Renew My Church vision offers a unique opportunity to collectively provide this support.

The volunteer group recently submitted its Feasibility Report to Fr. Carl, who has encouraged the group to share its findings with the community for feedback before a final plan is developed.

The Feasibility Study Team is holding a series of public forums throughout the community from now until late November at a variety of locations and times to engage the community as fully as possible. The public forum will feature a 30-minute presentation by members of the Feasibility Study Team followed by a question-and-answer session.

Several public forums have taken place, with others still to come. Please review the schedule of the planned forums and plan to attend the one that is most convenient for you. Please bring family members and friends.

  • Sunday, October 15 at 12 Noon – St. Edmund Murphy Hall
  • Tuesday October 24 at 7 pm – St. Luke’s School Waldron Room
  • Thursday, November 2 at 7 pm – St. Bernardine Cafeteria
  • Sunday, November 12 at 11:30 am – Oak Park Temple
  • Thursday, November 16 at 7 pm – Pilgrim Congregational Fellowship Hall

We are hoping to schedule one or two more events in November.

Please register for the meeting most convenient for you to attend by using the Online Registration Form below. Please come even if you were unable to register.

Questions? Please contact Feasibility Study Team Co-Chair Dan Doody at dan@doody.com.

Click to Register Online NOW!


Catholic Community of Oak Park Social Ministry Center on the SCSL Campus



Parishioners of all the Catholic churches in Oak Park have been involved in social ministries for years. By serving the homeless, the lonely, the mentally challenged, the hungry, those hospitalized, those seeking refuge, infants & toddlers, teens, and the elderly we have served God by serving each other.

During the Renew My Church (RMC) process, the recommendation of our collective churches to use the St. Catherine – St. Lucy (SCSL) campus, located at Washington and Austin Boulevards, as a social ministry center supported by both consolidated parishes in Oak Park was endorsed by Cardinal Cupich. This vision is an extension of the social justice outreach to Austin and beyond that has been occurring on each of our campuses and intended to add to those efforts, not replace them. SCSL is an ideal location to continue the outreach the Oak Park Catholic community has been engaged in to serve those in need on the west side of Chicago.

The SCSL School educates about 190 students, 85% of whom live in Austin, and is thriving. For many years, the SCSL ministry called Faith and Fellowship has served the needs of mental health-challenged residents in two facilities in Austin; the SCSL convent is now the residence of women recovering from addiction through SisterHouse, sponsored by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. The current rectory was converted in December to serve as an emergency shelter run by Housing Forward, and Beyond Hunger has a cold storage unit in the rectory’s garage. As other social services agencies began inquiring about renting space on the campus, it was decided last fall to “take a breath and study the vision.” At that point, Fr. Carl Morello, pastor of St. Catherine – St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish, commissioned a Feasibility Study for the re-use of the SCSL rectory.


Fr. Carl asked Jack Crowe (from St. Catherine – St. Lucy and St. Giles) and Dan Doody (from Ascension and St. Edmund) to serve as co-chairs of the Feasibility Study Group. Their work began in October and was placed on hold when it was decided part of the 2nd floor of the rectory would be leased to Housing Forward. When the shelter was opened in January 2023, the Feasibility Study resumed.

Dan Doody introduced the Feasibility Committee organization and model to our collective parishes through the church bulletins in an article that ran for three weeks in late February and early March. Questions were encouraged and interested volunteers invited to participate. An article on the Feasibility Study ran in the Wednesday Journal and Austin Times in March. The Feasibility Study group has three committees: Facilities (working on the physical structure and needs of the rectory), Outreach (seeking input through surveys, visits to social service organizations, personal dialogue with leaders in the Austin community, and our various parish ministries) and Development (identifying both financial and human resources required for long-term success).

Currently there are thirteen dedicated volunteers working diligently on the work of the committees. Most importantly, the findings and recommendations of this committee will be presented to our pastors, staff, and parishioners once the committee’s work is completed, sometime this summer.

The anticipated Social Services Center is a long-term commitment by the people of our Oak Park Catholic parishes. Once the Feasibility Study is completed and presented to our parishes, the next steps in the process will be identified. We pray for the Spirit to continue to lead us as we move forward.

Please direct any questions to Dan Doody at dan@doody.com.