By Bob Uphues
Three Roman Catholic parishes in Riverside, North Riverside and Lyons will merge to form a new parish, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced Jan. 22, as part of a years' long, comprehensive reorganization of Catholic parishes throughout Chicago and the suburbs.
In the works locally for about the past year, the archdiocese's Renew My Church program had grouped St. Mary in Riverside, Mater Christi in North Riverside, St. Hugh in Lyons and St. Pius X in Stickney and both parishioners and church leaders undertook a "discernment" process to determine a future path.
Based on a report the parishes delivered to the Archdiocesan Standards and Recommendations Commission late last year, Cardinal Blase Cupich and the archdiocese's Presbyteral Council delivered their verdict last week.
Effective July 1, St. Mary, Mater Christi and St. Hugh parishes will combine to form a new parish, whose name will be determined later in the year following input by parishioners and a final determination by the cardinal.
The new parish's pastor will be Rev. Tom May, who is pastor of St. Mary in Riverside. The new parish's administrative center will remain in Riverside and St. Mary will be designated the official parish church. Any new associate priests will be assigned to the new parish by the archdiocese later this year.
St. Mary School, which is the only school in the parish grouping, will remain unchanged, according to the archdiocese.
Attempts to reach May prior to the Landmark's press time were unsuccessful.
St. Pius X will not join the other three in the new parish. It will re-enter the Renew My Church process, grouped with several Berwyn and Cicero parishes who are just beginning to enter the discernment period.
St. Hugh Church to close
While St. Mary and Mater Christi churches will continue to be regular worship sites for the new parish – and the Mother of Mothers Shrine at Mater Christi will remain unchanged – the archdiocese intends to discontinue regularly scheduled Masses at St. Hugh Church in Lyons by no later than March 2, 2022 .
According to an archdiocesan announcement posted on the St. Mary Church website, the "vitality and stability of the new parish will be bolstered by reducing the number of campuses and auxiliary buildings, making the new parish more manageable. Drawing down ministry and selling or leasing the campus at St. Hugh will significantly reduce expenditures on building maintenance for the short and long term."
As far as naming the new parish goes, parishioners will be invited to submit nominations, within guidelines established by the archdiocese, and three to five choices will be presented to the cardinal.
Cupich will announce the combined parish's new name, possibly sometime late in 2021.
When the newly combined Brookfield-LaGrange Park parish comprising St. Barbara and St. Louise de Marillac got its new name – Holy Guardian Angels -- in 2019, the announcement was made that October.
This story has bene changed to correct the date by which St. Hugh Church must end regularly scheduled Masses.