It was after World War II and the western suburbs started to boom with houses and schools. Churches were being built to satisfy the needs of new residents. St. Mary Parish in Riverside included residents of North Riverside, and soon it became obvious North Riverside needed a parish of its own as Masses were being held at Komarek School. 

A school also was needed to alleviate the crowded classrooms at St. Mary’s. The year 1956 at St. Mary’s was the last graduating class which included students from North Riverside and that new parish, Mater Christi.

The new parish under the guidance of Father A.H. Menarik grew and the classrooms numbered over 40 in each grade. Mater Christi became an active parish. The men’s group, called the Holy Name Society, still meets monthly and holds popular events, including the Turkey Shoot and the Limited Raffle. The women are active with the Women’s Guild, which also meets monthly.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, the students at the schools were taught by nuns so tuition was kept low. However, as the number of nuns became smaller over time, it was necessary to hire lay teachers, which increased the cost of running a parish school. Mater Christi School closed in 2005 after 49 years, with many students going to St. Mary’s or St. Louise in LaGrange Park.

Many priests who have served at Mater Christi went on to new assignments. Father Bob McLaughlin became pastor at Holy Name Cathedral. Monsignor Michael Boland for many years was the head of Catholic Charities in the Chicago Archdiocese. 

Father Jerry Listecki is now archbishop of Milwaukee. Other priests who served at Mater Christi who became bishops are Father Jeffrey Grob and Father Lou Tylka. Pretty impressive, must be a good training ground.

The strong spirit still exists in both parishes, but now it’s inevitable as part of the archdiocese’s Renew My Church initiative, that change is coming. The two parishes could once again become one. It will be interesting to see how it all works out early next year.

Voting reminder: You can still mail in your ballot or early vote. I strongly recommend either of these methods for easier voting. Just vote. If you have not registered, you can do it at the early polling place.

As the saying goes, “If you don’t vote you can’t complain.” Early voting is held in Brookfield and Lyons at their village halls. Parking is good and the buildings are handicapped-accessible.