St. Ann Parish to join with St. James and St. John as one parish

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St. Ann
St. Ann Catholic Church (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Operations to continue largely as normal at St. Ann; St. John in Glenwood to close; St. James in Sauk Village will become a worship site.

By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (March 18, 2021) – The Archdiocese of Chicago announced last week that St. Ann Parish would be combined with two surrounding Catholic Church parishes as part of the Archdiocese’s Renew My Church program. The news comes after a January announcement from the Archdiocese that St. Ann School will close at the current school year’s end.

Details of the unification

The merging of St. Ann Parish in Lansing, St. John Parish in Glenwood, and St. James Parish in Sauk Village will result in the closure of the St. John location and the conversion of the St. James location from a parish site to a worship site. St. Ann will continue to be a parish site for the new and larger parish, and the sacramental records will be kept there.

The change will take effect on July 1, 2021, though parish leaders will oversee an ongoing transition throughout the coming months.

Reverend Mark Kalema, who has been a priest at St. Ann Church since 2018, will be the pastor of the larger parish. He will work with Reverend Bart Winters (current associate pastor of St. Ann) and Reverend David Krolczyk (current pastor of St. James) to oversee worship services at both St. Ann and St. James.

Three parishes working together to become one

St. Ann
Rev. Mark Kalema will be the pastor of the united parish. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma, 2020)

The new parish will have a new name that has not yet been chosen. According to Kalema, naming the new parish is the objective of one of three new “teams” that will be established. Each of the teams will include parishioners from each of the three parishes that are being combined. The naming team will submit three to five names to Cardinal Cupich for his consideration.

In addition to the naming team, Kalema said a unification team will oversee details about uniting the three parishes and an accompaniment team will help parishioners transition during what could be a potentially difficult period.

“We told the people it is not a merger. It is not a consolidation. It is a unity,” Kalema said.

He likens the joining of the three parishes to a marriage. “A unity is not a contract but a covenant, like a marriage. It becomes one church. … If it is a contract, it can be broken, but if it is a covenant, if it is a unity, it’s like a marriage where they are together,” Kalema said.

A relief for St. Ann parishioners

Kalema thinks the news of the unification have caused some St. Ann parishioners to breathe a sigh of relief, especially after the news was released in January about St. Ann School closing this summer.

“It’s a no-win situation in a way, because we will have some people who have lost their building and will feel let down [St. John parishioners] … but some people, of course, from St. Ann or St. James, they feel a sigh of relief that they are not going to move into a new house. People feel they are attached to one building—which shouldn’t be, actually, because the church is where the people are—but as human beings, of course, we feel the roof over our heads is our home,” Kalema said, adding that parish leaders will do their best to make the new parish open and welcoming to everyone.

Hope for a more vibrant church community

According to the Archdiocese of Chicago’s website, the Renew My Church program is designed to “ensure that all parishes are vibrant, vital, and life-giving and have the resources they need to carry out the mission of the Church.”

Kalema feels the move to join the three parishes into one parish will help unite the Catholic Church’s mission. “I think the unification is seen as kind of inevitable for the Church in Chicago. So I see this as a good investment in the future of Christianity and the Catholic Church to be a vibrant church,” Kalema said. “We hope that it can create a more vibrant community by getting together because united we stand, but when we are scattered … we might start falling apart.”

St. Ann Catholic Church is located at 3010 Ridge Road, Lansing, IL.

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