Catholic Parishes of Oak Park Migrant Ministry

Our St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish is partnering with Ascension and St. Edmund Parish to form an organization that is called Migrant Ministry. Our goal is to work toward hosting migrants.

Currently and as of January 2024, we are providing assistance to migrants and asylum seekers at the former St. Edmund School (now St. Edmund Center) located at 200 S. Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park, IL 60302.

VIDEO – WHAT WE ARE ABOUT! – St. Edmund Center in Oak Park provides Services for Migrants


Last October, at the District 15 Chicago Police Station we met Jose Leandro, an indigenous man from Colombia who was driven out of his village by the drug cartels. With other D15 migrants, Jose moved to the Oak Park YMCA in mid-November. He became a regular visitor to the Migrant Ministry and enrolled in our ESL classes. He was anxious to get a job and settle into an apartment.

On February 10, with the support of Catholic Parishes of Oak Park (CPOP) Migrant Housing team, Jose moved into an apartment in Southeast Oak Park. He will share the apartment with another single man identified through the Migrant Ministry. He has found a job through a connection at the YMCA and can now call Oak Park home.

The Housing Ministry division of our migrant outreach does not receive a lot of media attention, but it is vibrant and growing. In partnership with Catholic Charities, the Housing Ministry is now accompanying six households and seven families. One of the families welcomed a new baby boy this week! The Housing Ministry furnishes the apartment with donated furniture and household supplies and identifies “mentors” who accompany the migrants and help them adjust to life in their new communities, their new homes.

This past Sunday afternoon, six migrant children were baptized at St Edmund’s – a number of baptisms on one day not seen since the 1950s! Thanks to the spiritual and pastoral accompaniment of Claretian Fr. Vittorio Bruscella at Centro San Edmundo, these families and other migrants have found a spiritual home at St. Edmund. They have asked about receiving other sacraments as well, including marriage. A Spanish-language Mass will be offered on Sundays during Lent.

We are honored that our migrant brothers and sisters can now call our community and our parishes their home.

There is an ongoing need for mentors for the Housing Ministry. The goal of the mentors is to move our migrant brothers and sisters to independence by helping them with shopping, navigating transportation, setting up bank accounts, etc. Spanish-speaking ability is desired, but Google Translate works!


If you would like to support our ministry, use the link below to visit our Amazon Wish List. You do not need to order the items from Amazon. It is just a list of things we need. Donations of other items not on this list continue to be paused for now.

Click to Donate Through Amazon


After a full ministry morning last Tuesday (February 6), the committed and (almost) tireless volunteers were treated to a delicious Venezuelan meal prepared by three migrants and a retreat led by Fr. Steve Bevans, professor emeritus at Catholic Theological Union. It was a wonderful opportunity for the volunteers to reflect on their experience and the spirituality of accompaniment.

The rest and spiritual refreshment were much needed as our ministry once again adapts to an ever-changing reality. As Father Carl announced recently, state funding has been approved for a portion of the former St. Edmund School to serve as a shelter for the asylum-seekers currently living at the Carlton Hotel and the YMCA. The shelter will be located in the newer section of the school building and managed by the non-profit Neighborhood Bridge. The Migrant Ministry is coordinated by the Catholic Parishes of Oak Park and its services are located in the older part of the building. Nevertheless, we have shared long term goals that will be the focus of our shared space. We look forward to jointly sponsoring ESL classes, legal assistance workshops, wellness programs, and other activities to benefit both the shelter residents and migrants living in shelters and nearby communities.


Thank you to everyone who has so kindly donated to the Migrant Ministry! Because of your overwhelming generosity, WE ARE ABLE TO PUT CLOTHING DONATIONS ON PAUSE FOR NOW. You have kept hundreds of families warm and safe in the winter months. Please note that the migrants’ needs will change as we head into Spring – and we will provide an update in the next few weeks. Thank you for your continued support!


Dear Parishioners,

What follows is an update on the transitional housing for asylum seekers at the St. Edmund School building. The update is provided by Jack Crowe, parishioner and Board Member for the Oak Park Family Transition Center. As we learn more about the preparation work and operations of the shelter, we will be sure to share it with you. Thank you for your unwavering support as we continue to help those who need us.

Fr. Carl Morello
St. Catherine of Siena – St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish
Ascension and St. Edmund Parish

P.S. – Also, CLICK HERE to see an article from the Wednesday Journal on the shelter – OP selects St. Edmund School as asylum-seekers’ shelter – Wednesday Journal (

Important Update on the Transitional Shelter for Asylum Seekers

You have likely heard the exciting news that last night the Village of Oak Park agreed to open a transitional shelter at the St. Edmund School building for approximately 100 newly arrived asylum seekers beginning around March 1 until June 30, 2024. The shelter’s residents will be families, approximately 60 adults and 40 children, currently staying at the West Suburban YMCA and The Carlton Hotel.

The shelter will be operated for the Village of Oak Park by the Oak Park Family Transitional Center. This is an entity operated by West Side Service Connector, an Illinois not-for-profit and 501c3 created for service outreach in response to the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Renew My Church Initiative for the Oak Park Catholic Parishes. Jack Crowe will be the unpaid Executive Director of the Oak Park Family Transitional Shelter. The board members are local parishioners Kenna MacKinnon, Dan Doody and Jack Crowe. The Archdiocese of Chicago, as landlord, required that a separate corporate entity such as this operate the shelter.

The shelter will reside in the same building with the Migrant Ministry which has been distributing clothing as well as offering meals, English classes, medical services, and pastoral care. This important volunteer-driven ministry also aids in finding permanent housing. The Migrant Ministry and the new shelter will have opportunities to collaborate as we move forward.

Finally, the West Side Service Connector has a separate business operation called The Neighborhood Bridge that is focused on connecting residents of the West Side to high quality social service providers in Oak Park and Austin with an initial focus on serving local school children and their families. Its work is separate from the Oak Park Family Transitional Shelter and the Migrant Ministry.

We will keep you updated as we move along. Thank you for your ongoing support as we provide assistance to this humanitarian crisis.


Only these items are needed – We ask you please to stick to this list:

  • Winter boots for men, women, and children are needed as well as shoes.
  • Winter Jackets.
  • Sweatpants especially for men and boys and leggings for women.
  • Hoodies, and layering items, socks, gloves, hats, blankets, suitcases, and sleeping bags.
  • New underwear for men, women, and children – Boxer briefs for men in small and medium – Underwear and sports bras for women in small and medium – Underwear for children in all sizes, particularly for boys.

We accept donations of items to the alley door of St. Edmund School on Mondays from 9 am to 12 Noon. Parking will be available across the street behind St. Edmund Church.


If you would like to help by donating money toward the purchase of items needed, or if you would like to help defray expenses to provide meals and clothing items for the migrants, you can donate online through the GiveCentral link below OR send donations to St. Catherine-St Lucy and St Giles Parish, 1025 Columbian Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302. Include a note that the donation is for the “Migrant Ministry”.

Click to Donate Online

Thank you for your generous hearts!


The most important needs are housing and jobs. We continue to look for apartments to house families. The families that we are hosting are doing well, and there is a continuing need for mentors to accompany these families. With the new Temporary Protective Status for asylum-seekers from Venezuela, we are trying to find ways to help them complete those applications.

If you are interested in volunteering for Migrant Ministry, the accompaniment of the migrant families we have resettled into Oak Park, or if you know of an available home or apartment, please contact Margie Rudnik at, or Celine Woznica at

Other Ways to Assist (Google Doc)

GIA Sponsors Concert at St. Edmund for Migrant Ministry

Join renowned Catholic Composers and Artists for a benefit concert in honor of our New Migrant Neighbors in Chicagoland on February 27 at 7 pm at St. Edmund Church in Oak Park – A free will-donation will be collected to support the efforts of the Catholic Parishes of Oak Park Migrant Ministry.

Bienvenidos, Hermanos y Hermanas!
Click on links below to learn more about our guests!

Julio De León
Peter Kolar
Santiago Fernandez
Adan Alejandro Fernandez
Damaris Thillet
Lourdes C Montgomery
Lesly Palacios Castillo
GIA Publications, Inc.