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Parish members gather to thank Father Lyons for 50 years of ministry

by Melanie Jongsma

CALUMET CITY, Ill. (May 15, 2020) – Dozens of cars rolled in to the parking lot to the east of the Our Lady of Knock Church building (501 163rd Street) around 11:30am on Wednesday, May 13. They were there to celebrate Father Patrick Lyons on the actual day of his 50th anniversary of priesthood.

With no specific plan in place, participants parked somewhat haphazardly. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Unsure of the procedure, parishioners parked somewhat haphazardly, and then got out of their cars—donning masks to protect each other—to find out what was going on. The day was bright with sun, though somewhat cool, and gathering in the church parking lot brought back memories of pre-pandemic routines.

Parishioners took advantage of the opportunity to connect with each other in the parking lot. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Parish member Cathy Knetl found a large plastic bin and began collecting cards that parishioners had brought. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

“He’s coming out!” cried Father Luis at 11:45am, and the news reverberated through the waiting crowd. Those standing in the parking lot began applauding, until they were drowned out by the festive blaring of horns that lasted a full minute.

“He’s coming out!” was the shout as Father Pat emerged from the building. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

“Happy 50th!,” “Many more!,” and other well wishes were shouted, including a celebratory Polish song.

Parishioners waved posters and yelled greetings from the parking lot. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
One thoughtful parishioner blessed Father Pat with a box of chocolate-covered strawberries, and he licked his lips upon tasting one. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
After the initial honking and waving, Father Pat wandered through the rows of cars, maintaining a healthy distance while personally greeting parishioners. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

After a few minutes of socializing, the noon church bells began to toll, and Father Luis instructed participants to return to their cars, drive past Father Pat, and wave/honk a final greeting.

Father Pat (center) waves at each of the 50-plus cars that drove past to congratulate him on his 50 years in the priesthood. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

The event was not a surprise for Father Pat, but he was overwhelmed at the number of participants. “I figured a few cars,” he said. “I didn’t figure this many!”

The Our Lady of Knock church building is located at 501 163rd Street in Calumet City, Illinois. The parish has merged with St. Victor and St. Andrew parishes to form a new church known as Jesus, Shepherd of Souls, which was meeting on the Our Lady of Knock campus.

The Our Lady of Knock church building is located at 501 163rd Street in Calumet City, Illinois. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.