Supporters Like You
Read about supporters who help the Archdiocese of Chicago bring Christ to the world through spiritual renewal and evangelization, academic excellence rooted in our Catholic faith and parish-based outreach ministries to the more than 2 million Catholics and community members who reside in Cook and Lake counties.
Six parishes in Vicariate III have received grants totaling $105,000 through Our Peace Plan, a vicariate-wide effort led by Auxiliary Bishop Robert Lombardo and Linda Weaver, who came up with the idea and donated the grant money.
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Linda Weaver always wanted to do something to help reduce the violence in Chicago, and after learning that she was the beneficiary on her son John Weaver III’s life insurance policy, she decided to use the funds to help parishes in her son’s memory. Her son died in a 2019 plane crash along with his father and younger brother.
Through Our Peace Plan, parishes submitted plans to address violence in their communities and promote peace. The winning three parishes received $25,000 each to implement their plans, while three runners-up received $10,000 each.
Our Peace Plan sought to foster creative ideas in the parishes to address violence of all types. Vicariate III includes city neighborhoods such as Avondale, Back of the Yards, Brighton Park and Austin.
Mother of the Americas, St. Aloysius and St. Paul parishes received $25,000 each and St. Agatha-Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Mary of the Angels and St. Michael the Archangel received $10,000 each.
The grants are a boon to parishes, said Bishop Lombardo, who is concerned about the increased violence in the communities.
“I think that the violence is getting worse, and I think that as it gets worse more and more people want to do something about it. I think that what Linda has provided through these grants is an opportunity to do something about it on the grassroots level and gives parishes an opportunity to add a dimension of our faith to that response,” he said.
Father Tom Boharic, pastor of Mother of the Americas Parish in Little Village, said his parish will use the grant to pilot an afterschool arts intervention program in the fall. It will be led by a parishioner who is a professional artist and will teach the young people linoleum printmaking.
Boharic created a similar arts program called the Imago Dei Project when he was associate pastor at St. Agnes of Bohemia.
“With my experience before, from St. Agnes and with Imago Dei, just seeing how well art works for bringing in youth, it’s a good medium for us to teach the faith,” Boharic said. “We’re created in the image and likeness of God, so images are really important for us.”
Art is also important in Mexican culture, so it is a natural way to reach at-risk youth in his community, Boharic said. The project will also be a safe space where young people can share deeper things going on in their lives.
Young participants will also learn entrepreneurial skills and sell their art, earning them money. “We wouldn’t have been able to do these different things at this level without [Linda Weaver]. I’m just really grateful for her,” Boharic said.
When Tomás Gómez was growing up in the small town of Ixtapan de la Sal southwest of Mexico City, he attended Mass with his parents, went to Catholic school and received his First Holy Communion and Confirmation at Parroquia Inmaculada Concepción. Those early years of finding meaning in the Catholic Church have stayed with him throughout life.
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“I’ve belonged to the Most Blessed Trinity Parish in Waukegan since emigrating from Mexico in 1988,” Tomás said. “When I first came to this area at age 20, I instantly felt at home here as a Catholic.”
When he arrived in Illinois, Tomás was ready to work hard to get a good start in life. He worked 12-hours shifts — 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. — at a local restaurant before heading off to night school. Before long, he found a factory job where, a few years later, he was offered a management position.
“I was a good, dependable, hard worker,” he said. In 1996, he studied for and earned a real estate license, selling homes for a national firm for 23 years before hanging up his own shingle two years ago. “At Freedom Realty, we love helping people realize the dream of homeownership,” he said of his Waukegan firm.
During that time, Tomás married and had three sons who are now young adults: Jaime, Jonathan and David.
In 2015, he married his second wife, Leticia Cervantes. The two now bring their two young sons, Thomas Jacob, 18 months, and Daniel Isaac, 5, to church with them. Leticia’s parents also belong to the parish.
“We think it’s important that our boys learn about the love of Jesus,” she said. “We take them to Mass whenever possible because we want to transmit our faith to them. Attending church always helps me to energize spiritually; I always feel better after Mass.”
The couple are faithful supporters of the Annual Catholic Appeal and became Lumen Cordium Society members in 2017.
“We’ve always tried to be generous with the Church,” added Tomás. “But one day, I saw our pastor at the time, Father Gary Graft, do something remarkable. We were having a brief conversation after Mass when another parishioner quietly called him aside. I watched as he reached in his pocket and gave her whatever money he had to help her in that moment.”
“Father Gary’s selflessness and generosity were inspiring to watch,” he said. “He is a very humble man and such a good example of doing God’s work — always giving and helping.”
Tomás believes in sharing what the Lord has given him through the Annual Catholic Appeal. “The appeal supports so many good works in our parish,” he said.
His parish includes three churches: Queen of Peace Church in North Chicago and Immaculate Conception Church and Holy Family Church, both in Waukegan. Their ministries include the Most Blessed Trinity Food Pantry and its soup kitchen, domestic violence support and a community center.
“We are all part of God’s family,” Tomás said. “And those of us who are in the position to care for our brothers and sisters, should do so. Everyone needs some help at some point in life. We’re proud to be a part of this faith community.
Dr. Sabrina Renee Kendrick
“I’ve always been in tune with my Catholic faith and my childhood
parish,” said Sabrina Renee Kendrick, MD, a loyal member of St. Philip
Neri Church (now Our Lady and Sts. Bride and Philip Neri Parish). An
infectious disease physician at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook
County, she lives in the River North neighborhood and occasionally
attends nearby Assumption Church, but still considers the South Shore parish her spiritual home.
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“It’s where my mother, Sarah, lives and where I grew up,” Dr. Kendrick said. The two frequently attend Sunday Mass there together.
A product of Catholic schools, she attributes her eagerness to learn and be of service to others to her education and her mother, who raised her as a single parent after her father died when she was only five months old.
Those Catholic values have taught her the joy of volunteering and contributing financially to the Church. Over the summer, as the archdiocese began planning to safely reopen its schools in the fall, she readily volunteered to help.
“Several of us — a pediatric emergency room doctor, a pharmacist, a fire fighter/parent, an educator/attorney, the school principal and an assistant principal — met regularly to work through the archdiocese’s protocols and guidelines. I’m happy to say that it was a smooth transition when we opened the doors in August 2020.”
Her time in the school also showed her how important it is to financially support Catholic schools.
“At St. Philip Neri grammar school,” she continued, “some of the rooms looked pretty much the same as when I went to school, so there is a need to keep facilities up to date. As a member of the Lumen Cordium Society, I’m happy to help wherever the archdiocese has a need.”
Dr. Kendrick believes that as a Black Catholic, her church involvement is another way to engage with her community. She is a member of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Knights of Peter Claver – St. Philip Neri Women’s Club and volunteers in various parish activities. Prior to the pandemic, she also helped at back-to-school fairs by taking blood pressures and educating people about diabetes and blood sugar levels. Assumption Church introduced the Chicago Help Initiative to her. After several years of helping with the meals to feed the homeless at Catholic Charities’ main location on LaSalle Street, Dr. Kendrick became a member of the Board of Directors and still maintains her volunteer activities (prior to COVID-19).
Her faith also informs her work as an infectious disease physician. “Each day, as I prepare to go into the hospital and attend to patients, I pray to God to give me the strength, knowledge and wisdom to be the best doctor I can be and use my position, especially when patients can’t see their own families and our faces are covered up with goggles, masks and shields, to be a source of comfort and care. Prayer always helps.”
As a Lumen Cordium Society member, she gives what she can. “Not only does it make me feel good, but it gives those parishes in need the ability to do renovations, provide scholarship assistance or stock their food pantries. I don’t do it for the recognition; I do it because it’s the right thing to do and view it as part of my duty. I would encourage others to donate what they can to help those who come after us to become good Catholics.”
“We are all part of God’s family. And those of us who are in the position to care for our brothers and sisters, should do so. Everyone needs some help at some point in life.”
—Tomás Gómez, supporter
Jay Tremblay and Jan Koors
Lumen Cordium Society members Jay Tremblay and his wife, Jan
Koors, vividly recall an incident that occurred not long after they moved to Chicago from New York.
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“In the early morning hours of February 4, 2009, the roof of Holy Name Cathedral caught fire,” Jay said. It destroyed much of the recent ceiling restoration and left the cathedral with severe water damage. “We had just been there the evening before auditioning to become lectors, so we were stunned to learn what had happened the next morning.”
The fire made the couple that much more committed to their new spiritual home, and they have since found numerous ways to engage in the life of the archdiocese. The couple lends their time and financial support to a wide variety of educational and religious causes, with a particular emphasis on supporting Catholic education.
“At a time when people are talking about investing in the stock market,” said Jay, “Jan and I are interested in investing in people. We’re grateful for the help and encouragement we received when we were young and want to make sure others experience that same sense of belief in themselves.”
Both attended Catholic schools growing up and were raised in the Catholic tradition of serving their community. They fund scholarships for students in grades 6 – 8 at two schools on the South Side, believing that that age is a critical time in a child’s development.
“For some families, those middle-school years can be financially difficult, especially if they have other children’s tuition to pay,” said Jay, who has never forgotten his own good fortune when “someone generously paid my tuition so I could attend a Jesuit high school.”
As Jan noted, “A quality education can open the door to a lifetime of opportunities for children and their families.”
In addition, Jan sits on the Big Shoulders Fund board and Holy Name’s Parish Finance Council. As longtime members of the Lumen Cordium Society, they support the Annual Catholic Appeal, the COVID Relief Fund, the Teach Who Christ Is initiative and Tax Credit Scholarships.
“The archdiocese is an integral part of the fabric of this city,” Jay continued. “Many thousands of Chicagoans — Catholic or not — are touched by the archdiocese every day. The Catholic Church assists people with issues around food insecurity, housing, healthcare, education and safety.”
The couple feels blessed to actively participate in whatever way they can to help their community and encourage others to do so, too.
“To be good citizens, good community members, people should contribute financially, if they’re able, or volunteer to a cause that’s meaningful to them. To us, that is what makes a true Chicagoan. Every gift of time, talent or treasure deserves to be honored and respected,” Jay said.
Werner and Sherri Seyfried
Werner and Sherri Seyfried have been active and engaged members of St. James Catholic Church on South Wabash since joining it nearly 10 years ago. In addition to being Lumen Cordium Society members, both have served on its Parish Council, were eucharistic ministers — and Sherri is currently a lector. In addition, Sherri serves on the Archdiocesan Women’s Committee and is one of three representatives from Vicariate VI.
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They originally became interested in the parish after a neighbor invited them to attend a major fundraising event called Jazz ‘n’ to Feed, which benefits the church’s food pantry. “We are a small church, but mighty,” said Werner, who currently serves on the Parish Finance Committee. “Together, we feed 1,500 families a month. And Cardinal Cupich has visited us to see our vital meal service firsthand.”
Sherri added, “We are very diverse, not just ethnically, but also socioeconomically and by age. We provide Catholic service for the students at Illinois Institute of Technology, too. It’s good to see young people involved in the Church and so dedicated to their faith.”
Their parish dates to 1855 and the church was designed by architect Patrick C. Kelly, who also designed Holy Name Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. By 2013, the building had served its useful life and was demolished. They now worship in the parish hall.
Sherri explained, “We no longer experience the physical beauty of the original church, so the essence of ‘church,’ in its purist form, is amplified. We are brought into closer communion and connection with our fellow parishioners and our entire community. Our dynamic music and liturgy are so welcoming that everyone feels the spirit. Some members come from as far away as LaGrange.”
The couple, who married in 1987, continues to give to the Annual Catholic Appeal, through the Lumen Cordium Society, because it does so many good things for so many. “It furthers our social ministries, helps care for families in need and funds our Catholic school system,” she said. “After all, I think of the Catholic Church as the largest social work agency in the world,” Werner added.
“(The Annual Catholic Appeal) furthers our social ministries, helps care for families in need and funds our Catholic school system. After all, I think of the Catholic Church as the largest social work agency in the world.”
—Sherri Seyfried, supporter
Steve and Judy Jelinek
After living separate lives for decades, God brought Steve and Judy Jelinek together later in life, creating an everlasting bond with faith as its foundation. Together, Steve and Judy share four children and eight grandchildren, and have been married for nearly 20 years. Steve and Judy are spending their retired years deepening their involvement at Sacred Heart Parish in Palos Hills.
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Over the years they have participated in pilgrimages and Sacred Heart’s Queen of Peace prayer group, and volunteered for PADS, the parish’s funeral ministry and bingo nights. In addition, they are members of the Fun Club, a senior group that meets every other week, and Steve is a member of the Sacred Heart Holy Name Society. The Jelinek’s relationship with the parish continues to grow as time goes on.
“We’ve really found community at Sacred Heart now that we’re retired,” said Steve. “Because we’re more involved, we’re able to truly observe all the ways the Church is giving back to the local community, everything they’re doing in religious education to impact the next generation and how they continue to help parishioners grow in their faith.”
Growing up in the Chicagoland area, both Steve and Judy recall the Archdiocese of Chicago playing an essential role in their family life and faith journey. Both attribute their strong faith to their parents for planting the seed and supporting them in their relationship with God. It was through Mass and Catholic school – Steve attended Catholic grade school and Judy attended Catholic high school – that they experienced a deepening in their faith. The groundwork that both of their families established has allowed Steve and Judy to pass their faith and values onto their own children and grandchildren.
“My three other brothers and I went to Catholic grade school, and my mom was the one who made sure we attended Mass every week and engrained that faith into all of us,” said Steve. “I’ve been able to pass that on to my children from an early age and it’s something we continue to connect on now that they’re older.”
When it came time to start planning for their wills and trust, Steve and Judy knew without question they wanted to include Sacred Heart in their legacy planning. The Jelineks set aside a planned gift and generously decided to include Sacred Heart in their estate plans, investing in the future generation of the Church and Archdiocese of Chicago.
“The fellowship we receive from our parish made us want to give back to our church beyond helping and volunteering,” said Judy. “We have seen so many people inside and outside the parish community who really need help. We enjoy our church so much. We would like it to stay in good condition and continue being the welcoming place that it has been to us and so many.”
The support the Jelineks have received from Sacred Heart over the years has helped them through some difficult seasons. The Jelineks are eternally grateful for Father Wrona (current pastor) and Father Straub (assistant pastor at the time) for being there when Steve’s mom was ill and being provided hospice care in their home.
“Sacred Heart is a part of who we are and what our Church really means to us,” said Judy. “Steve and I are so grateful to have the opportunity to give back to our Sacred Heart community and the Archdiocese of Chicago. If you have truly been blessed by God, why not give something back or share it with others? We would encourage anyone else considering including the Archdiocese of Chicago in their will or trust, to listen to the call they are receiving from God.”
Steve and Judy continue to be involved at Sacred Heart and pray that their planned gift will impact the future generation of the Church and beyond.