Dear Parishioners, Visitors and Friends,
Welcome to St. Thomas the Apostle Parish – “God’s People in Extraordinary Variety” here in Hyde Park. We are a Catholic faith-community living inside a tradition that gives praise to God through prayer and service: service to one another in our parish family and also service to the wider community in which we live. You will find here information that we have compiled about our various ministries. Through them we attempt to deepen our faith and to serve one another.
This section has been put together by the Ministry Leadership Team. It is intended to inform and to make more people aware of the opportunities for service and faith support that exist here at the present time at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish. This list of ministry opportunities is a work-in-progress. We welcome any suggestions you might have to improve it, as well as any ideas you might have as to how we might strengthen our service at St. Thomas Parish.
We invite you to share your unique gifts of time, talent and treasure in any of these works that might appeal to you. There are many ways to serve, and no list could possible exhaust the needs of our parish or the community in which we live. Also these pages cannot adequately recount the personal experiences that make our service a joy.
Please keep these important ministries in your prayers. Carefully consider if God’s Spirit might be prompting you to join a new way of service. When we respond to God’s call in our life, others are cared for and we find deep rewards ourselves. Thank you for your interest.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Elias, O. Carm. & The Ministry Leadership Team
" ...faith working through love...." Gal. 4.6
You can obtain more information about particular ministries or about joining the parish by contacting one of the ministry leaders, by calling the parish office at 773-324-2626 or by email to
Parish Pastoral Council
The Parish Pastoral Council assists the Pastor in pastoral planning, including reviewing the parish mission statement periodically, assessing ongoing needs, defining parish goals, setting broad strategies for implementing those goals and evaluating the parish’s success in carrying out the Church’s mission.
Members are selected based on their willingness to serve and on a mix of expertise and experience in the parish so that the group reflects the overall spirit and make-up of the parish community.
Ministry leaders: Douglas Bond (773-643-9153), Fr. Elias (773-324-2626)
Pastoral Finance Council
The Parish Finance Council is a committee of the parish required by both Code of Canon Law and the guidelines of the Archdiocese. It is a consultative body to the Pastor. The Finance Council works closely with the Pastor who is accountable to the Archbishop for the administration and stewardship of the temporal goods of the parish. Consultation is at the heart of the decision-making process – sharing information, listening, contributing to discussion and promoting consensus.
Ministry Leaders: Paula Jones (312-492-7737), Fr. Elias (773-324-2626)
The Liturgy Committee is a group that works with the Pastor to maintain coordination, communication and continuity among the groups (listed below) which have an impact on the experience of Liturgy at St. Thomas. They act as a planning body for the basic liturgical cycle of events.
Ministry leader: Jennifer Davis (773-324-2626) & Ed Martin (773-363-7288)
At all of our Masses we have altar servers who assist the priest and the congregation in liturgical celebration. The servers must be in the 5th grade or above and attend St. Thomas the Apostle School or Weekend Religious Education Program. Boys and girls are welcome as are parent coordinators. Training is provided. Prayerfulness, willingness to serve, and reliability are the essential requirements.
Ministry leaders: Jennifer Davis (773-324-2626)
Communion Ministers and Lectors
Communion ministers assist the celebrant in distributing the Eucharist to the assembly at the Masses. Lectors are the ministers who proclaim the Word of God (other than the Gospel) to the assembly. For the important role that these ministers do at the Masses, careful training is provided.
One to two lectors are assigned at each mass and an average of 21 communion ministers are needed on the week-end. Schedules for these ministries are made four times a year. Upon completing their training, ministers choose the mass or masses to which they will be assigned.
Ministry leaders: Ed Martin (773-363-7288) & Jennifer Davis (773-324-2626)
The Inclusive Language Committee works on making the language of our worship as inclusive and as universal as God’s love is. We believe that our words reflect and can impact our attitudes toward God and each other. The committee meets about every six weeks to prepare the readings and discuss the issues rose. Membership consists of people who are willing to take the time to prepare readings in advance and to do some thinking and reflecting on the questions of language and liturgy.
5:30 pm and 8:30am Masses (773-324-2626, x 239)
11 am Mass & Choir (773-363-7288)
11am Contemporary Mass Choir
We are a piano/guitar based ensemble with a repertoire of songs by the leading composers of “folk” style liturgical music in addition to songs from other traditions such as the African-American sacred music tradition.
Our purpose is threefold: 1) to lead song and sung prayer at the 11:00 Mass; 2) to inspire and to provoke the assembly to contemplate the Scriptures; and 3) to give thanks and praise to God for the gift of music and all our other blessings.
We rehearse weekly in the evening in the Church for 60-90 minutes. Rehearsals are not highly disciplined sessions, although we do master the week’s music at them. Some time is always spent in socializing, because we believe that we all sing God’s praises best when it is fun to do so. For special occasions like the Easter Triduum and Christmas Midnight Mass, we join forces with Director of Music, Tom Weisflog and more singers. Extra rehearsals are common in the weeks before such occasions.
You need not audition to join, but it is important that you have some gift for singing or playing an instrument that you can share with us. It is even more important that you enjoy singing or playing.
Ministry leader: Ed Martin (773-363-7288)
Liturgical Arts and Environment
The Liturgical Arts and Environment Committee is responsible for what delights the eye when we enter our church at any season. This committee provides artistic décor including such things as the banners, flowers and plant arrangements appropriate to the liturgical season and holy days. In addition, committee members clean the altars and all of the sacred objects on a regular basis. Men and women volunteers are needed – from artists to mountain climbers who can hang mini-lights, from people who can wield an iron to people who can sew a seam, from people who can polish a vessel to people who can carry a load. The hours vary by season. Ministry leaders: Gabrielle Perrin (773-667-1355)
Mildred Soriano (773-373-3970)
Ushers and Greeters
The usher and greeter ministry provides the sense of welcome and order at the Sunday liturgies and other special events. Guests and parishioners are welcomed to the St. Thomas home with a friendly greeting and a set of the materials needed to participate in the Mass. Ushers also accept the gifts of the community during the Mass, serve the special needs of the congregation, elicit volunteers to take the gifts to the altar, stay around to say “good-bye” and “come again” at the end of the service. Ushers and greeters are responsible for arriving at least 30 minutes before the designated service and staying after the service to clear the pews of papers and prepare the church for the next service. In addition there is a special youth usher program that engages the young people of the parish in service to the parish and aims to assist them in a deeper understanding of the meaning of the mass.
Ministry leaders: Head Usher: Allen Hawkins (630-442-2761)
5:30 pm: Lead Usher - Gloria Hough & Oscar Lanzi, III
8:30 am: Lead Usher - Dr. Johnson Sonoiki
11:00 am: Lead Usher - Allen Hawkins
Liturgical Drama for Children and Teens
This ministry offers young people an opportunity to be more actively involved in understanding and sharing the gospel during the seasons of Advent and Lent.
Children ages 5 and up act out the story of the Nativity at the Christmas Eve family mass. Rehearsals begin in late November.
Young people 11 and up dramatize the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. We rehearse throughout Lent.
Ministry leader: Denise Smolarek (773-324-7554)
Sacramental and Catholic Faith Preparation
Religious Education Program
The St. Thomas Weekend Religious Education Program exists to complement and support the efforts of parents to communicate our Catholic faith to their children. We strive to accomplish this by sharing with our young people the message of God’s love as it is expressed in themselves, through their families, through the people they meet, in the traditions and rituals of the Catholic Church, and in the word, as well as by preparing our young people to celebrate the sacraments. Catechists offer a variety of faith experiences, including prayer, service, liturgy, and learning about our Catholic faith traditions and rituals. Parishioners are encouraged to take an active part in our program as catechists, substitutes, aides, and special assistants.
Ministry leader: Justine Spina (773-753-7435 or 773-465-7538)
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is a journey of faith. It is a time of exploration, call, community, and liberation. This process introduces the seeker to a Catholic way of life. The sessions are informal and are held once a week on Sunday. See the Bulletin for details. The RCIA seeks parishioners who are interested in becoming sponsors or catechists.
Ministry leader: Jennifer Davis (773-324-2626)
Sacramental preparation is coordinated by the Office of Religious Education. Religious education teachers and catechists are always needed to further enrich the programs available.
Ministry leader: Justine Spina (773-753-7435 or 773-465-7538)
Baptism - Baptism of infants is a grand occasion and the parish wishes to offer a process that is as smooth and systematic, and as free of uncertainty, as we can make it. Arrangements are initiated when a parent calls the parish office. The secretary will ask some preliminary questions and then send an Office of Religious Education information packet out to the family. Once the information phase is completed, the baptism will be placed on the calendar. Preparation class for parents and Godparents (only one is required) is generally held on the second Sunday of the month.
First Reconciliation, First Eucharist and Confirmation - Preparation for the sacred events of First Reconciliation, First Eucharist and Confirmation is done through the week-end religious education program and in the St. Thomas School. Inquiries can be made at the parish office or through the website.
Marriage - The sacrament of Marriage is a very significant event in the life of a Catholic. Preparation for Marriage is coordinated through the Religious Education Office but requires early review by the Pastor. There are significant requirements which must be met before a wedding date can be confirmed. The process begins with a call to the parish office. The secretary will review the basic process with the applicants and send out an information packet. After the forms are completed and returned, an appointment will be made with the Pastor.
Spirtual Life Development
Bible Reflection and Study Group
The purpose of the scripture study group is to encourage and foster the teachings of the Word of God, specifically in the parish and generally in the Hyde Park community. It is open to anyone who wishes to attend and participate in the study of the Scriptures. The group meets once a week except during the summer. More detailed information will be in the Bulletin.
Charismatic Prayer Group
The primary mission of the charismatic prayer group at St. Thomas is to praise and worship God, and to pray for the people of the Parish. We speak to God through song and spontaneous prayer, and we listen to God through the charismatic gifts, our shared human insights, and scripture. Since we are part of the charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church, we use charismatic gifts like prophecy, speaking in tongues, and praying for healing (for one list of these gifts see I Cor.12). We invite you to worship with us or to come when you have a special prayer need. We meet after the 11:00 a.m. Mass. Details are in the bulletin.
Ministry leader: Janet Fair-Christianson (773-955-2492)
Communion and Liberation Group
Communion and Liberation (CL) is a Catholic movement of lay people, priests and religious of all ages, recognized by the Vatican in 1982. It is present in over 70 countries, and in 100 cities in the U.S., including Chicago. Our ministry is simply to offer to others the companionship of Christ that we have found through this particular charism in the Church. Regular meetings called the “school of community” are held in which we help one another, through study, discussion, and reflection, to understand how the Christian experience can be lived more fully. We understand Christianity as an event arising from an encounter with Christ, which, when followed, generates an educational path that corresponds to our deepest human needs. Our educational method is focused on human experience and the person’s need to verify the truth of the Church’s claims and promises. An adult and youth groups meet regularly at St. Thomas. We also sponsor public presentations, retreats, and an annual Way of the Cross through downtown Chicago on Good Friday. Newcomers are welcomed.
Ministry leader: Douglas Bond (773-643-9153)
Women’s Reflection Group
The Women’s Reflection Group provides Catholic women of all ages with mutual support as they seek to integrate faith and work in their daily lives. Each month, a short reading selection serves as the focus of reflection and discussion. All women of the parish are invited to attend. The group meets monthly in the evening. Detail information on date and time appears in the Bulletin.
Ministry leader: Joan Palmer (773-955-2223)
Seasonal Reflection Series
The Pastor provides a reflection series associated with either Advent or Lent. This and other types of opportunities are announced in the Bulletin.
Call parish office for referrals.
Community LIfe and Outreach Ministries
The Bereavement Hospitality group provides a welcoming and supportive environment for families who are holding visitation and funeral services at St. Thomas. We provide light refreshments before the funeral and respond to the requests and needs of family and friends. In addition, we support the presider by performing such duties as sacristan and communion minister. Training is provided. Please join us if this is your calling.
Ministry leader: Corinne Lyon (773-288-1483)
Ministry leader: Rita Sprudz (773-960-5644) and Lisa Couch (773-324-2626)
Historical and Architectural Heritage
Our existing church building was dedicated in 1929 and is listed on the National Register of Historical Buildings. The Historical Heritage group has prepared a history and descriptive document about the church and provides tours upon request. Call for a tour. Volunteers are always welcomed especially those interest in sharing the beauty of the church and the history of our parish.
Ministry leaders: Theresa McDermott (emeritus), Sarah Bond (Archive) 773-643-9153, Judith Allen (Archive) 773-288-3038, Mark Lewis (Docent) (773-450-0841) and Karen Feeney (Docent)
Knights of Columbus
The Knights of Columbus, a national organization for Catholic men 18 years of age or older, was founded in 1887 by Father Michael J. McGivney. The purpose of the Knights is to help our members be steadfast in their faith and guided by the principles of unity, charity, fraternity and patriotism. The Knights undertake educational, charitable, and welfare projects in their parishes and communities. Knights at St. Thomas belong to the Madonna della Strada Council, which serves St Thomas and several other parishes. We sponsor and support a variety of parish functions such as the annual summer picnic, as well as a Tootsie Roll drive to raise money for children with developmental disabilities and a raffle to benefit Catholic Youth Organization. Catholic men 18 years of age and older are invited to join.
Ministry leader: William Hall, Jr. (773-846-8275)
Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus (K of C)
The Ladies Auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus is an organization that supports the mission of the Knights through fundraising, charitable works, and special events. Current fundraising activities at St. Thomas include the annual women’s prayer breakfast and the fashion show. The Ladies Auxiliary also regularly serves at parish functions including the annual parish picnic. Catholic women 18 years of age and older are invited to join.
Ministry leaders: Gloria Palmer-Pitts, President (773-947-8173) and Helen Irvin
Ministry of Care
Ministry of Care is a parish organization commissioned to bring the Holy Eucharist to Catholic patients at the University of Chicago Hospitals, to local nursing homes, and to home-bound parishioners. We act as representatives of St. Thomas the Apostle in bringing support and comfort to those who are facing some of life’s most serious challenges. Sometimes we just say a prayer with the person or offer a kind work, and of course, always offer the Eucharist. We try to remember that we are the disciples of Christ extending His healing ministry. Ministers of Care are just ordinary people called to minister to ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. Training and mentorship is provided by experienced ministers of care. If after reflection you believe that this is your call, please join us.
Ministry leader: Open
Pat White - Mentor: hospital patients (773-324-2626 x223) and Martin Duncan (Mentor: hospital patients) and Karen Feeney (Mentor: hospital patients)
Respect Life / Consistent Ethic of Life
St. Thomas’s Respect Life Committee is our parish’s listed representative to the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Respect Life Office. We follow the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities, based on the “4 Ps” of public education, pastoral care, public policy, and prayer/worship. The emphasis of the St. Thomas committee is on the development of a “consistent ethic of life” from conception to natural death so many issues such as capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research are addressed.
Regular Respect Life activities at the parish are benefit bake sales for pro-life pregnancy counseling centers, information displays and take-home materials during Respect Life Month in October, special events on national Sanctity of Life Sunday in January, an interfaith life service (convened by the Hyde Park/Kenwood Pro-Life Association), a pro-life baby shower/clothing collection in collaboration with the Madonna della Strada Knights of Columbus in late spring, information alerts with letter writing and telephone calls, and occasional displays on special issues. With so much to do, committee members are always welcome.
Ministry leader: Louise Kaegi Parish representative Archdiocesan Right to Life Office (773-947-9729)
St. Vincent de Paul Society
St. Vincent de Paul Society (SVD) is an international organization with an active unit at St. Thomas. The purpose of SVD is to develop the spirituality of its members through service to the needy. Although the emphasis is service, it is though our prayer together that we develop spiritually and provide support to one another. Some of our local projects include an annual dinner for the homeless and needy, sponsorship of food and clothing drives, visitation of shut-ins, solicitation and distribution of Christmas gifts, and contribution of food, time and money to local food pantries. In addition we respond to referrals from the parish for those in need of specific items or help. Anyone who feels called to serve those in spiritual, physical, or financial need on a direct, personal basis is welcome in SVD at St. Thomas.
Ministry leaders: Rose Reynaud, Deborah Matten-Brown and Jan Deckenbach
Calls taken primarily through the parish office.
Social Justice and Peace Ministry
The STA Social Justice and Peace Ministry seeks to bring together parishioners seeking to implement Jesus’ Gospel message and Catholic social justice teachings in our city, our nation and the world. Members engage in research, prayer, education and advocacy of social justice and peace issues affecting the poor and the voiceless in the human community.
The ministry welcomes new members and takes direction on the focus of the ministry from those members. The ministry has existed in a variety of forms over the years at STA. This current group began its work together in March of 2007.
Ministry leader: Open
Senior Life Ministry
Ministry leader: Open
Young Catholics Connection YC2
Ministry leader: Denise Smolarek (773-324-7554) and Cristina Morales (312-882-7844)
Young Adult Ministry
Br,. Daryl Moresco, O.Carm. (773-432-1222)
Ministry Leader: Judith Allen (773-288-3038)
Simbang Gabi / Filipino Ministry
Ministry leader: Mildred Soriano (773-704-3380)
Visitation Law Clinic
Ministry leaders: Mary Ann Smith (773-493-3418) and Kathleen Hayes (773-955-5535)
St. Thomas School and Related Ministries
St. Thomas the Apostle School
For over 120 years, St. Thomas School continues to provide students from Chicago and surrounding areas with an outstanding pre-K through 8th grade education, promoting academic excellence, Christian values and interracial unity. All of the school’s members work mutually to nurture and educate pupils to the highest level of their intellectual, moral, and religious potential. This is accomplished through the efforts of a dedicated and effective faculty, administration and staff. Our high academic and behavioral standards encourage the students’ growth and provide a safe, happy and disciplined learning environment. Visit online at www.stapostleschool.com Acting Principal: Candace Scheidt (773-667-1142)
St. Thomas the Apostle School Board
The St. Thomas School Board sets policy and procedures within the Archdiocesan School Board guidelines which govern the operation of the school. By its nature, the Board is advisory and accountable to the Pastor and the Principal. There are 12 members, 10 of whom are elected by the parish at large and school parents. The Pastor and the Principal serve as ex-officio members. The elected members serve staggered three-year terms. Candidates for the Board are slated by a nominating committee appointed by the Pastor and the Chairperson of the School Board. Anyone interested in serving on the Board can submit his or her name to the nominating committee. The election is held in March. Watch the February Bulletins for candidate and election information. The STA Board meets monthly during the school year. Ministry leader: Wallace E. Goode II (312-405-0560)
St. Thomas the Apostle Home and School Association
The purpose of the St. Thomas Home and School Association is to bring together parents and teachers through extracurricular activities to form a community that facilitates the intellectual, moral and religious growth of students. All parents of enrolled children are members of the association. Active parent involvement is essential for successful activities to be provided to our students. The association meets monthly.
Ministry leader: Kelli Wallace
St. Thomas the Apostle School Alumni Association
The St. Thomas the Apostle Alumni Association was formed in 2003 to encourage the gathering of former and current students, staff, and parishioners to the place that laid the foundation for so many. It has as its purpose simply to give back for past nurturing and care. It accomplishes this through events that promote fun-raising as well as fund-raising. Our membership is not limited to any select group and all are invited to join.
Ministry leader: Lenora Austin (773-241-5132) and Eileen Jo Edwards
St. Thomas the Apostle School Endowment Committee
The St. Thomas School Endowment Fund was founded ten years ago to provide continuing financial support for special projects needed by the school. The current money-raising project is the “Brick Pathway” where donations are sought to honor individuals, living or dead, with a brick in the pathway along the side of the Church leading to the school. Contributions to the Fund are accepted at any time. A committee of interested parishioners supervises the activities of the Fund and decides on the distribution of the annual gift. Some of the gifts purchased include new draperies for the school stage, up-dates for the audio system, rugs for the music and kindergarten rooms, computers, and a laminator. The principle of the Fund is preserved and continues to grow. Only the interest is used to help with the school needs. The Fund wants more participation by interested persons and encourages those interested to submit their names for membership on the committee.
Ministry leaders: Elise Torczynski (773-288-6266) and Mary Kaess (773-924-6097)
Market Day Fundraiser
Ministry leader: Ramona Dancer (773-640-6541)
Community and At Large Ministries
Hyde Park/Kenwood Interfaith Council
The Hyde Park & Kenwood Interfaith Council (HPKIFC) is an association of congregations and other religious bodies in the Hyde Park and Kenwood neighborhoods. The purpose of the Association is to promote understanding among the various faith communities and to provide effective channels for cooperative expression of our shared mission for the care of the community. The common endeavors include the Community Thanksgiving Service at Rockefeller Chapel, the hunger programs of the Open Kitchen and the Food Pantry, a social justice committee, and support of Hyde Park Transitional Housing. Founded in 1911, HPKIFC is among the oldest interfaith organizations in the U.S. St. Thomas currently has two representatives to the Council. If you are interested in interfaith relations or the programs listed below, please join us.
Transitional Housing Project is an effort by the Interfaith Open Communities-Hyde Park Cluster to provide housing and a supportive environment for homeless families who are moving to independent living status. Faith communities, such as St. Thomas, provide volunteer mentors and financial support for up to two years for each family
Open Kitchen at the Kenwood United Church of Christ provides a lunch meal Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for 100-200 people.
Community Food Pantry at the Hyde Park Union Church distributes emergency groceries Saturday mornings to 150+ people- and the demand is growing.
Ministry leaders: Laura Matthews (Board Member) and Pat White (773-324-2626 x 223)
“At Large” Ministries and Community Resources
We are blest with many more “ministry” organizations that can be found in and around our Parish as well as many religious communities and the Catholic Theological Union. A few of the “at large” ministries are listed below. (For information about the organization, please call them directly.) They all contribute to our spirit and to the wealth of opportunities that parishioners and our school community have to serve, to learn and to grow in the mind of Christ.
Midwest Workers Association Focolare Catholic Worker L’Arche
St. Martin de Pores House of Hope SOUL
(UCC on Greenwood and 56th)
Ministry leader: John Coruthers (773-955-7775)
Ministry leader: Laura Mathews - Parish representative
Coalition for Equitable Community Development
Ministry leaders: John and Brenda Murphy (773-667-8661)
Ministry leader: Jan Deckenbach (773-702-7034)
Ministry leader: Chi-chi Nnakwe (773-848-0482)