A firm handshake, a broad smile and a hearty laugh were my first impressions, all good, when I met the new pastor of Mater Christi Church in North Riverside this past week.
In succeeding Fr. Lou Tylka, it was apparent Father John Sullivan, who prefers to be called “Father Jack,” was still settling in to his new home.
Father Jack came to Mater Christi from St. John Parish in Glenwood, where he had been for 15 years. Born and raised on the South Side, I knew he was a Sox fan. He said he came from a small family and always knew he wanted to be a priest. His home parish Visitation had lots of vocations he said.
Rather than take what could be called the traditional route to the priesthood, Father Jack attended Leo High School instead of Quigley Preparatory High School and continued his education at St. Ambrose College in Iowa. During that time he worked at a variety of jobs — a garbage man, in asphalt construction, working on the docks and as a mover. He obviously was not afraid of hard work — before entering the seminary at Mundelein. He was ordained on May 11, 1977.
Always impressed by the work of parish priests, Fr. Jack also on his resume has served in other capacities within the Archdiocese of Chicago. He oversees annulments and has handled more than any other priest in the Archdiocese, doing so with sensitivity to those involved. He also is a chaplain for the Cook County Sheriff’s Police and speaks very highly of fellow South Sider, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
As he begins his tenure at Mater Christi, Fr. Jack says, “It has been wonderful.” He added that he is taking his time to get a feel for what the people want. He has met many of the parishioners and is looking forward to learning more about his new home and the area, although he says he was familiar with Mater Christi.
Before I left he said, “Make sure you include that I love what I do.” No problem, Fr. Jack. It’s evident by that broad smile, hearty laugh and firm handshake that you do enjoy what you do. Good luck and welcome to Mater Christi Parish and the area, and as they say, “See you in Church”.
Next week — Jaternice: the Sequel.