Was it an ending and a beginning? On Sunday, June 27 a celebration of unification was held for the local parishes of St. Hugh, Mater Christi and St. Mary. It marked the final Mass and closing of St. Hugh Parish in Lyons and its former parishioners will join with those from Mater Christi Church in Riverside and St. Mary Church in Riverside to become the new St. Paul VI Parish.

The parish’s new name becomes official July 1.

Sunday began with the final Mass at St. Hugh followed by a dedication at Mater Christi of the new St. Hugh Faith and Formation Center, which is at the former Mater Christi School. 

The day ended with the dedication of the Bishop Timothy J. Lyne Pastoral Center and Parish Office on East Burlington Street in Riverside. The events were officiated by Bishop John Manz, auxiliary bishop of Chicago accompanied by the priests from the three churches, Father Robert Marchwiany of St. Hugh, Father Matt Nemchausky of Mater Christi and Father Tom May of St. Mary, who will remain the pastor of the unified parish.

The events were the culmination of months of preparation by the three churches and their members through the archdiocese’s program Renew My Church, which is intended to strengthen parish life. 

During the reception at the Bishop Lyne Center, people were able to view the facility, enjoy some light refreshments and meet with members of the Lyne family, who had been invited to the dedication. 

I had the pleasure of meeting Fran Lyne, the sister-in-law of Bishop Lyne and related to her some of my pleasant experiences with her brother-in-law, the effect he had on St. Mary’s and why it was so important that he be remembered at the church in a special way.

While St. Hugh has now closed permanently and the property is expected to be sold, masses will still be held at Mater Christi and St. Mary’s.

The experience is new for most of us, and while we still hold our Churches as our own we’ll gather together to become a stronger parish. After seeing how people worked together through the process, meeting new people and making new friends, it is possible to get things accomplished when we work together and all are welcome.