RMC – New Unified Parish Name – Building A New Reality

Spirit and Light Center – Living Faith – Updates

The Neighborhood Bridge Center – Updates

Newly Formed Parish Pastoral Council

Newly Formed Parish Finance Committee


Dear Parishioners of Ascension and St. Edmund Parish and St. Catherine-St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish,

Eleven weeks ago, I became the pastor of both Oak Park Catholic Parishes with Fr. Rex assuming the role of Moderator of Pastoral Care. As our work as individual parishes continues to strengthen, we are also embarking on the second phase of Renew my Church, Building the New Reality, where we will focus on finding ways to re-engage with members throughout our parishes and create opportunities to attract those who will hopefully find a home among us.

I want to express my gratitude to each of you for your faithfulness, support, and patience as we build on the wonderful legacy and traditions of our former parishes while creating new traditions as unified parishes with structures that support the uniqueness of each faith community and help us prepare for the future.

As our parish families have grown, the need for increased communication has grown too. We recognize that not everyone has returned to mass and those who may have, may not consistently access one of our forms of communication. With the number of important areas of interest across both parishes right now, a Renew My Church Leadership Team comprised of several staff members and parishioners wanted to facilitate several in-person sessions where you can hear updates as well as ask questions and share your thoughts. We are inviting you to attend one of our three information sharing sessions:

  • Wednesday, September 27 at 7 pm – St. Giles McDonough Hall
  • Monday, October 2 at 4 pm – St. Edmund Murphy Hall
  • Monday, October 2 at 7 pm – St. Edmund Murphy Hall


I. Role Clarification/General

  • Fr. Rex’s new role & pastoral associate position change, clarification of various staff roles & shared staff
  • Formation of pastoral & finance councils

II. Shared Outreach at St. Catherine-St. Lucy

  • Overview of current outreach ministries
  • Concept social Ministry Center for Austin community
  • Feasibility study

III. St. Edmund Construction

  • Scope of work and construction timeline
  • Reopening of Murphy Hall & McGivern Center

IV. Spirit & Light Collaborative

  • Religious education program update
  • Upcoming programming & initiatives
  • Hiring of youth minister & board formation

V. Open Discussion / Q & A

The second page of this letter (see below) offers a summary of what will be shared at the sessions. We value and want your input. If you are unable to attend one of the sessions, I encourage you to share your feedback by contacting Development Director, Maria Allori, at mallori@archchicago.org or at 708-848-4417. Maria will compile all of the feedback and share it with me and the leadership group who will use your input to shape our communication and help us to plan for the future. Of course, you can always contact me directly at frcarl@stgilesparish.org.

I realize there is much work to be done and a lot to be discerned, but by working together and trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will continue to do God’s work with structures that will support our mission. This can only happen with your support. May God’s blessings be with us all.

Fr. Carl Morello
Ascension and St. Edmund Parish and St. Catherine-St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish

OAK PARK CATHOLIC PARISHES – September 22, 2023 Update

Role Clarifications / General

  • In July of this year, Fr. Rex became Moderator of Pastoral Care for Ascension and St. Edmund Parish. Through this canonical appointment, he became responsible for all aspects of pastoral and sacramental care. His role continues to be refined and we are sure his support will prove invaluable in our new structure. With the addition of this new role and some of the functions which now fall under the Spirit & Light Collaborative that extends across both parishes, the role of the Pastoral Associate position was evaluated. After determining there was a redundancy of responsibilities, the decision was made to eliminate the pastoral associate position.
  • The Director of Operations (DO), a new and much-needed role which was instituted under the Renew My Church initiative, is responsible for all aspects of parish operations, thereby allowing the pastor to focus on the pastoral needs and vision setting for their respective communities. Matt Brophy and Carlos Guerrero are the directors for our two parishes and do an excellent job.
  • The Director of Development position is not a new position for St. Edmund but a new and needed role for the unified parish of Ascension and St. Edmund and for the Oak Park Catholic community. Staff member Maria Allori brings a background and skillset in parishioner engagement, stewardship, strategic planning, fundraising (including capital campaigns), communications and marketing.
  • Spirit & Light: A Catholic Collaborative for Living Faith led by Dr. Marci Madary is not only responsible for religious education and sacramental prep, but a catechetical resource for the Catholic Community. Marci’s position and several others under Spirit & Light are shared positions (talent and cost) across our two parishes.
  • The parish pastoral councils and the finance councils have been formed for both parishes and have begun to meet. Bios for members from Ascension and St. Edmund will be published soon.

Oak Park Catholic Community – Shared Ministry at St. Catherine-St. Lucy

As with all the Oak Park Catholic campuses, SCSL campus has been thriving with a social justice mission for years. Faith and Fellowship has served Austin residents with severe mental health challenges for over 40 years. The grade school serves students primarily from the Austin neighborhood. The convent has been leased by Sister House as a residential treatment center for women recovering from addiction. Housing Forward is operating a shelter year-round and Beyond Hunger uses the garage for cold storage. The Migrant Ministry is offering showers and meal preparation to the migrants at the 15th District Police Station. The Feasibility Team advising on re-use of the rectory as a proposed powerful Social Ministry Center to the west side, has completed its initial needs assessment and is conducting listening sessions across all the Oak Park Catholic parishes and other faith communities throughout the fall. Questions can be directed to Dan Doody at dan@doody.com.

St. Edmund Construction

Berglund Construction has been awarded the contract for the storm-related work on St Edmund Church. Applications for the necessary permits have been filed. We have asked for an expedited process so that the work can be completed before winter. The reopening of St. Edmund Church is a priority and we will keep you informed on the progress as construction gets underway. Murphy Hall is available for parish meetings and events but space needs to be reserved in advance. The McGivern Center reopened with a soft opening schedule in light of the upcoming construction. All parishioners are welcomed to stop by to conduct business as this space, like Murphy Hall, has accessibility features (ramp, elevator, ADA bathrooms). To meet with Fr. Carl or Fr. Rex, we kindly ask that an appointment be made in advance.

Spirit and Light Collaborative

Spirit and Light is a collaborative between Ascension and St. Edmund Parish, St. Catherine-St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish and the Family Mass Community. Our shared religious education program has started with just over 400 students registered. Preparation for children to receive the sacraments of Confirmation and First Communion is also underway. New ways to minister to people are being developed including NEXT (New Catholics in Conversation) which is aimed at adults who came into Catholicism through RCIA and want to continue exploring and growing their faith. We are in the process of hiring a youth minister for all Oak Park parishes. A Spirit and Light Board with 14 members has been formed with people from all worshipping communities.


Appointment Letters for Fr. Carl and Fr. Rex
JULY 2, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

With the official appointment letters included / linked below, we embark on a new journey together that includes two parishes, four sites, five unique faith communities (with the Family Mass Community at St. Giles), one pastor and a pastoral team with Fr. Rex serving as Moderator of Pastoral Care. While Fr. Rex’s focus will be on the newly united Ascension and St. Edmund Parish, he, along with Fr. Carlton and myself, will assist each other as we do our best to meet all of your pastoral needs. One thing I have seen and experienced these last couple years, having said Masses in each community, is the unwavering support and dedication to our parishes, for which I am grateful.

Appointment Letter – Fr. Carl Morello (PDF)

Appointment Letter – Fr. Joseph Pillai (PDF)

As we navigate through these times of change, it brings me a great sense of encouragement when we have the opportunity to have honest conversations and work through the process of creating new structures which will honor our unique gifts as communities of faith, as well as recognize that we are stronger working together.

Change can often be intimidating and it is natural to feel a sense of unease when faced with new circumstances. As our two separate parishes move into the next phase of Renew My Church, Building a New Reality, it is important to remember that change can also present us with opportunities for growth and renewal. By finding a way within ourselves to accept change while embracing the challenges that accompany it, we can continue to strengthen our sense of community and deepen our connection with one another. I trust that the guidance of the Holy Spirit, our collective efforts, shared wisdom, and diverse perspectives will help lead us through any obstacles we may encounter. I am grateful for your commitment, faith and unwavering dedication to our community and for the strength of our collective spirit.

May God’s blessing be with us all.

Have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July Holiday.

With you a Christian. For you a priest.

Fr. Carl Morello
Ascension and St. Edmund Parish
St. Catherine-St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish


Fr. Carl’s Letter – Role as a Pastor for both Oak Park Parishes
JUNE 15, 2023

Dear Parishioners of St. Catherine-St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish,

On Tuesday of this week, Fr. Rex announced his decision to take on a more pastoral role with Ascension and St. Edmund Parish – See announcement below! – As someone who has worked alongside Fr. Rex both as an associate pastor and as pastor, I can assure you that it was not an easy decision for him and one that required a lot of discernment. I wish to express my support of him as he transitions to a role he finds most fulfilling. Fr. Rex has many gifts and this change will afford him more time to dedicate himself to meeting the pastoral needs of Ascension and St. Edmund Parish which can only strengthen our community. As your faith leaders, though with different titles, Fr. Rex and I will continue to work closely together. I wish to thank him for his faithfulness and devotion.

As we near the one year anniversary of the unification of not just Ascension and St. Edmund Parish, but also the unification of St. Catherine-St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish, I want to let you know of how grateful I am for your efforts in coming together as a faith community. While our work is ongoing, I can assure you that any success we’ve had has come about because of your faith and unwavering dedication. I am looking forward to working side by side with all of you in the role of pastor of both Oak Park Catholic parishes. Many of you may have questions or concerns about what this change will mean. While our work as two individual parishes will continue to strengthen and deepen, our collaborative work as an Oak Park Catholic presence will help us to supplement the needs of not just our current faith community, but the larger community which we hope can find a sense of home among us.

Here are some things I’d like to share:

  • We will continue to operate as two parishes, Ascension and St. Edmund Parish and St. Catherine-St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish.
  • Fr. Rex will remain as the pastoral presence at Ascension and St. Edmund Parish responsible for all aspects of pastoral and sacramental care.
  • Both Oak Park parishes will have their own councils which include a parish pastoral council and a finance committee. We are currently forming the finance committee for Ascension and St. Edmund Parish.
  • Both Oak Park parishes will have their own operating budgets and finances will be kept separate. Staffing for each parish will be also be kept separate with the exception of a few positions which will be shared across both Oak Park parishes including the role of director of lifelong formation and the future hire of a youth minister. I plan to share more details about these roles as well as the religious education program shortly.
  • We are looking forward for the construction to be completed at St. Edmund Church.

As we build on the wonderful legacy and traditions of our former parishes and create new traditions as two separate unified parishes, let us remain hopeful. It is important that we continue to embrace and support the uniqueness of each faith community as we plan for the future.

While a new challenge, my commitment remains to work in the best interest of all as my goal. I look forward to serving you, working with the staffs from both parishes, and using the guidance of our councils. As we move into the next phase of Renew My Church, Building a New Reality, which holds a lot of promise, I also look forward to having conversations with you about how we best move forward together.

Let us look ahead with hope and determination, trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the strength of our collective spirit.

May God’s blessings be with us all.

Fr. Carl Morello
Ascension and St. Edmund Parish
St. Catherine-St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish

Ascension and St. Edmund Parish Update from Fr. Rex
JUNE 14, 2023

Dear Ascension and St. Edmund Faith Community,

As many of you know, I moved to Oak Park in the summer of 2020 and served as the Associate Pastor at Ascension Parish, while celebrating Mass at St. Giles on some weekends while Fr. Carl Morello became the Administrator at Ascension Parish. After the Renew My Church Oak Park unification process was completed, and at the strong encouragement of Bishop Birmingham, I accepted the appointment of becoming the Pastor of the newly united Ascension and St. Edmund Parish on July 1, 2022. Since this time, I have found my pastoral ministry at Ascension and St. Edmund to be to be very fulfilling, meaningful and lifegiving.

As a first-time pastor, coupled with the unique and expected challenges of having two worship sites, I have found my pastoral ministry at Ascension and St. Edmund faith community, combined with the administrative tasks and the added Renew My Church expectations to be more demanding than I anticipated. These added responsibilities have not afforded me the proper attention needed to focus on the important sacramental and pastoral needs of Ascension and St. Edmund faith community. As such, after much prayer and reflection, I have asked Cardinal Cupich and Bishop Birmingham to relieve me of my duties as Pastor of Ascension and St. Edmund Parish, beginning on July 1, 2023. This decision will allow me to better focus on the important and necessary pastoral ministry and pastoral care, which has always been a privilege for me.

Due to this change in the administrative structure of Ascension and St. Edmund Parish, Cardinal Cupich, with the support of Bishop Birmingham, has asked Fr. Carl Morello, a respected and experienced Pastor whom the parish knows well, to assume the role of Pastor. I have asked to assist Fr. Carl and continue to live at the Ascension campus and serve at Ascension and St. Edmund Parish in the pastoral care of this wonderful parish, and the Cardinal has granted this request. As you are aware, Fr. Carl Morello and I have already worked well together as a team these past three years, and after much conversation, I feel this would be an easy transition in advancing the vision of creating new structures that support the future of the Oak Park Catholic Community and its wider members.

With these changes, together we will also continue our vision in the development of strong lay leadership which has defined the Oak Park Catholic community for many years. Know, too, that I look forward to continuing in my role of accompanying all of you in our journey of faith. Christ, our Good Shepherd, will always be our community’s strength in these moments of transition and in building a new reality for ourselves and for our future generations. Know of my continued prayers for all of you, as I also ask that you pray for me.

Fr. Rex Pillai
Pastor of Ascension and St. Edmund Parish


To Our Parishioners,

The Children’s School, which currently occupies St. Edmund School, has advised their community that the Archdiocese is not renewing their lease on the St. Edmund School property. Recently, we learned that the building is in need of extensive repairs, repairs which are not feasible to finance. The parish is also unable to financially manage the risk associated with this building while occupied by the school. These are some of the factors which led to the decision by the Archdiocese not to renew the lease. While The Children’s School and the Archdiocese began negotiations last year regarding a lease renewal, the discovery of these extensive and expensive repairs to the building make that impossible.

Further information is being gathered about St. Edmund School and will be shared with the wider community on March 6, as part of an Oak Park conversation on our parishes. The details for this event, ‘Faith, Finances, Facilities & Facts,’ are below.

In consideration of the school and the challenge they have ahead, we agreed that they would communicate this news to their community before we notified our wider community. We hope you will understand the sensitivity and difficulty of such communication.

Please reach out to either one of us with any question you may have.

Peace and Blessings,

Fr. Rex Pillai
Ascension and St. Edmund Parish

Fr. Carl Morello
St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish



Eight months ago, we began a journey to form two new Catholic Parishes in Oak Park. As newly unified parish communities formed from four original parish communities, we have faced a number of challenges.

The mergers have also been a source of many blessings in our worship and in our service to our sisters and brothers. And yet, there are still many questions and uncertainties before us as we continue this journey of unification.

We invite you to an all-Oak Park Catholic Parishes Meeting to begin addressing these questions. The focus of the meeting will be Faith initiatives, Financial summaries, Facilities reports and other Facts of note.

The meeting will be Monday, March 6, at 7 pm in McDonough Hall (2nd floor), 1101 Colombian Ave., on the St. Giles Campus. The hall is handicapped accessible with a ramp on the south side of the building as well as an elevator available to reach the second floor.

Fr. Rex PillaiPastor, Ascension and St. Edmund

Fr. Carl MorelloPastor, St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy and St. Giles

Carlos GuerreroOperations Director, Ascension and St. Edmund

Matt BrophyOperations Director, St. Catherine of Siena-St. Lucy and St. Giles


Saturday Mass at St. Catherine – St. Lucy Church
MAY 28, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

I hope all have enjoyed these beautiful days reminding us of the gift and beauty of God’s creation. While the sunshine and nice temperatures have made me smile, I also have a heavy heart as I must share some important information with you. Last week, I spoke to the members of our community who attend the 5:00 pm Mass at our St. Catherine-St. Lucy worship site. After almost a year, with the hope more parishioners who have been away during the pandemic would return to that Mass time, we are still a very small number. Regrettably, after consultation with staff and members of the community whom I personally spoke with, the 5:00 pm Mass will end as of June 24. Julius White and the Praise Choir have been a significant part of that Mass time and of the community, faithfully providing music for many years. We understand the importance of coming together in worship and the spiritual nourishment that this Mass in particular provides. However, continuing as is with little attendance and support played into making this difficult decision. I understand that for many this will be disappointing.

I can share with you that Julius White and Sue Kaszynski, both involved in the music ministry at our two worship sites, the Praise Choir and our united Seasonal Planning Liturgy team will have conversations on how best to continue to include what has been an important part of the community for many years. Nothing will change with the 9:00 am Sunday morning Mass at St. Catherine-St. Lucy.

I hope and pray that those who have been regular 5:00 pm Mass attendees will now join us at the 4:30 pm Mass at our St. Giles site or the Sunday morning 9:00 am Mass at St. Catherine-St. Lucy. Building a new reality is a process… we are on that journey together.

This weekend, we celebrate Pentecost and hear some helpful advice for our journey. What is the first thing Jesus says to his startled, confused disciples? “PEACE BE WITH YOU.” He says it twice! In this same meeting, the disciples receive the Holy Spirit and Jesus once again “sends” them on a mission. The great reminder of Pentecost is that Christians are a sent people. And the impetus of Renew My Church and Building a New Reality is sending us in new directions and on a new mission. In all that we are doing, let us recall that we are commissioned to take Jesus Christ with us and introduce Jesus wherever we go. But we cannot do this until Jesus has said to us, “SHALOM!” PEACE BE WITH YOU.

I understand that with change and a new way of thinking of ourselves as “united” and being church in a more “Oak Park” community way may be challenging. These are all new ideas from what we have been used to as just our individual parish communities. For this reason, and many other personal concerns we carry, many of us are not at peace. We’re fractured, confused and just as muddled as the disciples were in today’s readings. When we pass the peace of Christ at Mass, wherever we gather, it is not an idle exercise. It is a call to wholeness so that we might be equipped to bring Jesus to one another and to the world.

Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. Let summer begin and may it be relaxed, fun and safe for all! Summer courtyard concerts will begin in June on the third Friday of each month! Keep your eye open for details!!

With you a Christian. For you a priest.

Fr. Carl Morello
Pastor of St. Catherine-St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish


Our Renew My Church Journey
APRIL 2, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

In the midst of Lent and Easter, our mission to Renew My Church (RMC) continues. Yes, at times we find this can be daunting and unpredictable for us all. During a recent interview with Pope Francis on the occasion of his 10th anniversary he said, “Being the pope is not an easy job. Nobody has studied before doing this,” recalling how St. Peter also “fell” when he denied Christ. “But, after the resurrection, Jesus chose [Peter] again,” Pope Francis explained. “That is the mercy of the Lord towards us.” We too, your pastors along with the priests of the diocese, had no training nor was anything remotely like “RMC” ever envisioned during our formal formation as priests. We rely on the collaborative support of YOU, our parishioners, and the significant support of the diocese to help guide us on this journey.

This past week, we continued the challenging work of the organizational transition of our parishes, and began orientation for the next phase of renewal, Building the New Reality (BNR). It was a very informative and exciting session comprised of key leaders from the community and diocese to begin this important phase of RMC. The discussion was open and valuable for us and all present. Some key learnings from this for us were the hunger for improved communication, the struggle we all have with understanding what “renewal and mission” means, the building of trusted relationships, and unfortunately some pain and sporadic “disengagement.” All wonderful sharing and learnings! We express our heartfelt thanks to all present and are now working with our BNR team to craft the next steps. We will be sharing those steps with you as we move forward, and we welcome your input.

We want to stress our continued gratitude and prayers to the Catholic community of Oak Park and to all those whom we serve. We ask each of you, as Pope Francis instructed in his recent interview, “Pay attention to God’s will and put it into practice: it’s necessary to attune yourself with the Lord, not with the world.” Not the church we know, but the church we are called to build for the present and our future. We need everyone to approach this renewal with openness as we grow together in understanding what it means to be a church that moves from maintenance to mission.

In Christ, we thank you for your patience, faith, and prayers.

Fr. Carl Morello and Fr. Rex Pillai
Pastors of St. Catherine-St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish and Ascension and St. Edmund Parish


NOVEMBER 5, 2022

Dear Parishioners of St. Catherine of Siena – St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish,

As you may recall, Cardinal Cupich met this past Friday, November 4, with members of the Presbyteral Council. At this gathering, there were robust discussions around the new names which were submitted by many of the parishes and parishioners currently involved in the process of unification.

At this moment, I wish to share the results of this conversation as it relates to your parish and for Ascension and St. Edmund Parish. With the support of the priest members of the Presbyteral Council, it has been proposed that the official naming change for your parish be postponed at this time. With that said, for the time being, the name of your parish will remain St. Catherine of Siena – St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish. This is also true for Ascension and St. Edmund Parish.

This consideration and decision were made to affirm the intentional work of renewal taking place at each individual parish, and in the ongoing efforts of supporting a larger vision of renewal within the Oak Park Catholic community and beyond.

Allow me to also use this opportunity to thank your pastor, Fr. Carl Morello, the staff and the unification team for their commitment to all of you and to the process of Renew My Church. Their deep care is certainly grounding in our shared vision of continuing to build up the Kingdom of God during these moments of transition.

Please know of my closeness to all of you in my personal prayer, as I also ask that you pray for me. Wishing you every blessing, I remain,

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Kevin M. Birmingham
Episcopal Vicar

Unified Parish of St. Catherine-St. Lucy and St. Giles


All parishioners were invited to be part of the exciting opportunity of naming our parish, newly unified through the Renew My Church (RMC) process – Preferences, suggestions and ideas for a new parish name, under certain guidelines, were accepted from September 10 through September 25 giving all the opportunity to help establish a new identity for our parish community.

We received many unique and creative parish name suggestions – After review of those that meet qualifications, and prayerful discernment, the Unification Team focused on six names that best convey the spirit of our unified parish and have the most potential to gain widespread support among parishioners. We encouraged you to complete a Parish Name Survey after thoughtful prayer and reflection. The intention of the survey was to identify one or two names that attract a significant proportion of parishioners.  The survey was conducted from October 8 to October 16, and you gave us feedback of your first, second, and third choice from these names:

  • Beatitudes of the Lord Parish
  • Holy Wisdom Parish
  • Pax Christi Parish
  • St. Clare of Assisi Parish
  • St. Hildegard of Bingen Parish
  • Saint Sophia Parish

The naming surveys are in, now what? – All the surveys have been forwarded to the RMC Board for tallying. The name with the highest number of votes will be presented to the Cardinal and the Presbyteral Council at the meeting on November 4 along with the name that has the second highest vote total. The Cardinal and the Council will then vote to either approve or object to the first name presented by a show of hands. If the first name does not meet approval, the second name will be voted on. Once the name is approved, I will receive word and then be able to share and celebrate the newly chosen name for our joined community. Keep in mind that our building names never change, always St. Giles campus or St. Catherine-St. Lucy campus. The new name will identify our newly unified community of God’s beloved.

Some asked how many names were on the original list. I do not really know. However, the list presented to us had about 23 names to look over. I and the Unification Committee went through them and decided on six names. We chose three saints and three alternate names to cover the spectrum of suggestions. How did each sound; did it roll off the tongue; was it identifiable, was it relatable in some way. These names were then presented to you for your vote. This was the procedure followed by parishes before us and the path we choose to follow as well. I trust that the Holy Spirit has guided us and we will arrive at a new name to help identify who we are becoming.

Have a safe and good week ahead.

With you a Christian. For you a priest.

Father Carl Morello
Pastor of St. Catherine-St. Lucy and St. Giles Parish