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Petzel: St. Gerald’s Holy Name Society hosts April 5 smoker

Updated: April 18, 2013 6:08AM



Greetings, fellow Oak Lawnians!

The 10th annual Holy Name Society Smoker at St. Gerald Parish will be held April 5 in the church’s Chappel Hall, 9310 S. 55th Court. Guest speaker will be Blackhawks Hall of Famer Eddie Olczyk, who’s also a Blackhawks and NHL televison analyst.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $50 each or a table of 8 for $360. The cost includes beer, wine, soft drinks and food (from Louie’s Chophouse) featuring chicken, beef and ham.

This annual spring event is always a huge success with a big turnout. Holy Name Society member Tim Pender said “we average just under 300 attendees each year. This year, we’re hoping to sell 320 tickets. We already have 16 tables filled, and we’d like to have as many people as possible attend. We can always add more tables if necessary.”

Planning for the event is almost routine for the Holy Name organizers.

“Planning started back in November or December. We pick out who to get for a speaker, then the planning process starts and committees are formed. It’s a very smooth process on the night of the event,” Pender said.

Guest speakers from past smokers include such other Chicago sports stars as Denis Savard, Bart Johnson, Keith Van Horne, Bobby Hull, Kevin Butler and Gary Fencik among others. Choosing Olczyk as this year’s speaker was based on a number of factors.

“Eddie is a local guy, he’s familiar with St. Gerald and the South Side and went to Brother Rice in his early years. He has to be in Nashville on Saturday, but he’s committed to coming and we’re very grateful and appreciative of his commitment,” Pender said.

The evening will open with a prayer by the Rev. Lawrence Malcolm, followed by drinks and dinner, Olczyk’s speech, including a Q & A, followed by card playing. Raffles, split the pot and a silent auction will also be available. A special raffle to win a 50-inch flat-screen TV will be held for those who purchase tickets before April 1.

Another highlight will be the recognition for Men of the Year. Pender said “it’s a surprise. We usually choose two or three men for this award, and no one knows who it is until we announce their names at the smoker.”

Proceeds from the benefit go to the LCPL Jonathon Collins Activity Center, which is now under construction. The center will be a multipurpose gym for parish social functions.

“We’re hoping to raise $20,000. If we get $25,000, we’ll be very happy,” Pender said. “Over the past 10 years, we’ve raised between $250,000 to $300,000 from these smokers and other events.”

He also credits friends and fellow Holy Name members Matt Gulino and Ralph Arnold, who have since died, with being the “driving forces behind getting the gym built.” Breaking ground on the gym was a great accomplishment, but it was also bittersweet because Gulino and Arnold will never get to see the gym to which they dedicated so much time and energy.

No doubt, both men are in everyone’s thoughts as the gym is finally becoming a reality. For tickets or more information on the April 5 smoker, call Pender at (708) 560-4592.

Here are this week’s celebrity birthdays: Joan and Mike Fahey wish their grandson Jimmy McQuaid a happy 8th birthday. Happy 10th birthday to Brooke Arundel from her parents and Damien, Raven and grandparents. Carrie and Tony Szambelan send birthday wishes to their children Nicolas, who’s turning 12, and Brianna, who’s turning 14. Happy 13th birthday to Mallory Byrd and to her mom, Melissa, from their great-uncle Rob Turek, Brandy and Nemo.

Happy 13th birthday to Joseph Tomacic from his parents Laura and Boris, brother Anton and family. Happy 13th birthday to Alex Crivellone and to his brother Tom, who’s turning 22, from their parents, Cathy and John. Kristi and Mike Mays wish their sons Andrew, who’s turning 14, and David, who’s 17, a happy birthday. Happy birthday to Tyler Prostka and Haley Casper, who are both turning 15, from their parents.

Nora Dunne’s parents and Sean wish her a happy 20th birthday. Birthday wishes go out to Dayna Johnson from her friend Christina Pender. Happy 28th birthday to A.J. Naponiello from his parents, Karen and Tony, Dan and family. Happy birthday to Debbie Paluch from Mike, Anthony and T.J. Happy birthday to Eddie Brooks from his family and Meaner. Birthday wishes go out to Glen Rylko from Alicia, their children and grandson, Jackson.

I have a correction from my March 3 column: Happy birthday to Nicolette
Vanderwarren, who’s turning 18.

Keep your fellow Oak Lawnians informed about birthdays, special events or special “stuff” going on with your family or within the community.

Call me at (708) 899-9544.

Until next time ...



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