Sunday, December 2
I had the pleasure and honor of attending a fundraising dinner this past week benefitting the great mission of one of Chicago’s legendary high schools: Leo. Located on 79th Street in the Auburn/Gresham neighborhood of the city’s south side, Leo High School opened its doors in 1926 and has educated and formed several gifted leaders in Chicago. Leo continues its great work today under the passionate vision of its president Dan McGrath (an Old St. Pat’s regular!), principal Shaka Rawls, and a committed base of alumni.
The honoree on Wednesday night was Leo alum, Mr. Tom Owens ’56 for his dedication to living out the Christian values instilled in him during his days as a Leo student. Tom is no stranger to Old St. Pat’s. Back in the early 1990’s Tom Owens approached Fr. Jack Wall about the possibility of establishing the Cara program here on the campus of Old St. Pat’s. And that they did! Cara comes from the Gaelic word for “soul friend” and its mission, envisioned by Tom himself, was to be a place of transformation for those who are homeless and unemployed and to set them on a course of self-sufficiency and sustainable employment. Several years ago, Cara outgrew its space here in our Old St. Pat’s Aronin Center for Social Concerns and opened a newer, larger space just south of us on Desplaines street near Jackson. I didn’t know this statistic until the other night but since its beginnings, the Cara program has formed and found jobs for over 7,000 people!! Under the leadership of Tom Owens, our own OSP member Eric Weinheimer, and now a marvelous president, Maria Kim, the Cara program continues to make a huge difference in the lives of many people who are simply looking for an opportunity to work and enjoy life.
With it being Advent and a time when we will contemplate a gift for someone in our life, wouldn’t it be awesome to gift someone with a sustainable job? For over a year, our own Vince Guider and members of our North Lawndale Kinship Initiative have been forming an exciting adventure to help chip away at the problem of unemployment in the North Lawndale neighborhood. Old St. Pat’s is deeply committed to this enterprise. Knowing that the people of Old St. Pat’s are tremendously generous and resourceful, would you and could you consider helping us with what we are calling the “North Lawndale Works” campaign? Do you have a company that would consider hiring someone, after they have gone through the Cara program? Do you know of someone we could talk with in the company you work for? Could you help us make a contact with a potential employer? I would be grateful for your consideration of this request so we can continue growing the numbers at Cara and decreasing the unemployment rate in North Lawndale!
firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com
Among the many pieces of the mission taking place at Old St Pat’s this Advent is the Memorial Service to honor those who died homeless on the streets of Chicago. This will be held on Tuesday, December 18 at 6:30 pm. No one in this world should be without a home. And no one should have to die on the streets and with no one around. Not only do I hope you will come and honor the lives of the poor who have died, but I also hope you will help us reach out to our neighbors in the West Loop to join us as well. Mindful of the growing population surrounding us here at Old St. Pat’s and in this urban area, our hope is to invite our downtown neighbors for this extremely important and, likewise, interfaith/ecumenical experience to honor those who have died right outside our doors. Help us do what Old St. Pat’s does well: keep inviting and make others feel welcome here.
Have a good, Holy beginning of this Advent season.
Father Tom Hurley