Updated: November 8, 2013 6:30AM
St. Bernadette Catholic Church celebrated 66 years in the community with a parish and school reunion this weekend.
The parish is located in Evergreen Park and sits in the shadow of Little Company of Mary Hospital. The church opened its doors in October 1947 and the school opened in 1949. When the church first opened in Evergreen Park, it was housed in the Quonset Hut, a dome-like structure with a corrugated exterior. The actual church was completed in 1958.
The reunion also was a way to celebrate Father Benedykt Pazdan’s first year. Pazdan said his first year at the parish has been great.
“People are coming back and we’re getting more children involved,” Pazdan said.
In his first year Pazdan has created prayer request cards and a ministry for stay-at-home parents. He said he wants to focus on taking care of the basic needs of the parishioners.
“This is becoming a lively community,” Pazdan said.
Parishioners are very pleased with the energy and enthusiasm Pazdan has and said his efforts to rejuvenate the parish are the main reason they wanted to have the reunion.
Mark Wilkey, director of communications for St. Bernadette’s, said the parish has a great congregation.
“What makes St. Bernadette so special is all the parishioners and volunteers and all the work that they’re willing to do,” Wilkey said.
Marilyn Meyer has been a parishioner at St. Bernadette for 52 years. She enjoyed the reunion because she was able to see people she recognized from years past.
“Although we’re smaller, it’s a well-established parish,” Meyer said.
The reunion was a time for former students to reminisce with their former teachers. One student, Judy Trevillian, class of 1960, credited a teacher with her interest in education.
“Because of Sister Mary Gael (Daley) I became a teacher,” said Trevillian, who worked as a teacher in the Chicago Public School system for more than 30 years.
Arlene Baumann has been the principal at St. Bernadette’s school for 14 years. In those 14 years, around 400 students have graduated.
“One of our greatest joys is that the students come back,” Baumann said.
Baumann said the students from St. Bernadette matriculate to private, Catholic and public high schools and they all have a good educational foundation. She credited small class size and dedicated teachers. Joyce O’Brien, a committeeman with the reunion, agreed. She had two children graduate from St. Bernadette school and said they received a very good education.
“We immediately loved this parish when we moved in,” O’Brien said.