St. Catherine Laboure- Our Namesake
On the evening of May 2, 1806, in Fain-les-Moutiers, France, the ringing
of the Angelus occurred; and unknown to those hearing the heralding
of Our Lady’s bells, a child was born who would
one day be canonized to sainthood.
The day after her birth,
on the feast of The True Cross, she was baptized Catherine
Madeleine Laboure. With the death of her mother, the devotion and
love Catherine (age 9) had for Mary was affirmed as she held a
statue of Our Lady, kissed it, and said, "Now, dear Lady, you
are to be my mother."
Catherine (age 24) began her
commitment of service to the Daughters of Charity. God blessed her
with several visions and her first apparition of the Blessed
Virgin was on July 19, 1830. She reappeared to Catherine on
November 27, 1830, and said, "Have a medal struck in this form (which
she described in detail). "All who wear it will have great graces."
When the first medal was struck on June 20, 1832, Catherine urged devotion
to it, and, because of the power working through it, it was called the
The front of the Medal represents Mary
standing on the earth, her foot crushing the head of a serpent, and her
hands outstretched to all who ask her assistance. The prayer encircling
her contains one of her most precious titles: "O Mary, conceived
without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee." The rays of
light from her hands symbolize the graces which she is very eager to
bestow upon those who wear the Medal and pray to her. As you gaze around
our beautiful sanctuary, you will notice this image of The Blessed Virgin
in a place of prominence to the right of the altar.
Catherine died on December 31, 1876.
When her body was exhumed in 1933, it was found as fresh as the day it was
buried. Her incorrupt body is encased in glass at the Mother House of the Sisters of Charity,
140 Rue du Bac in Paris, France.
For the Google Map link, click here.
St. Catherine Laboure was canonized on July 27, 1947. Her name graces our church and may
her spirit of charity and devotion grace our hearts.
The History of St. Catherine Laboure Parish
While celebrating his 25th anniversary of
ordination in Europe, Father William Buckley received a letter from Msgr.
Casey, the Vicar General, that Cardinal Meyer wanted him to build a parish
in the western Glenview area. It was on this day that Father Buckley and
his three traveling companions visited the shrine of St. Catherine Laboure
and knelt at the chair where our Blessed Mother sat when she appeared to
St. Catherine Laboure. Father was so impressed with the shrine that upon
leaving, he announced that St. Catherine Laboure would be the name of his
Upon returning home, Father Buckley was greeted by
Father Dussman and Father Ryan, from Our Lady of Perpetual Help, who gave
Father a place to live. The Superintendent of Public Schools, then Dr.
Springman, arranged for Father to rent the Junior High School gym as a
temporary place to say Mass and hold services.
Father Buckley visited the site where he was to build a
school. The property was a swamp with two lakes and strewn with debris.
After a second visit, Father decided that maybe it would be a good place
to build a school since it was not on a busy street. The cost of
reclaiming the land was $70,000.
In September 1960, Father Buckley moved into a
temporary rectory at 1615 Elmdale and daily Mass began on September 7 in
the chapel of this building. He secured the services of the School Sisters
of St. Francis for the parish school. The sisters commuted from Our Lady
of Perpetual Help for six months until a home was rented.
Father Nugent, who built Villa Redeemer Retreat Center,
also helped by recruiting Priests to say Mass; they commuted from Edgarton,
Wisconsin to assist.
By October 1960, a Ladies’ Guild and Holy Name
Society had been formed and plans were underway for a combination
church-school facility. On April 23, 1961, ground was broken for a
church-school structure; the cornerstone was laid on August 26, 1961. Mass
was celebrated in the new church quarters on Christmas Eve, 1961. The
school was opened on January 3, 1962. Sister Mary Louise O.S.F. was the
first principal. Past principals include Sister Veronica Margareth O.S.F.,
Sister Bernella O.S.F., Sister Sean Morley O.S.F., Sister Elaine Campbell
B.V.M., and Sister Kathleen Heer S.L.W.
Cardinal Meyer dedicated the new $750,000 parish
building on April 8, 1962. Father Burns was the first associate pastor,
followed by Father Paul Burke, Father James Ouletta, Father William Barry,
Father Richard Welc, Father Joseph Altman, and Father Walter DeRoeck.
Father Julian Harast resided at the rectory and assisted after his
retirement as pastor at St. John Chrysostom until his death in 1983.
In 1965, a building at 3360 Thornwood Avenue was
purchased for use as a convent. On June 4, 1968, John Cardinal Cody
approved plans for the erection of a permanent church and groundbreaking
took place on June 9, 1968. The church was opened officially on October 3,
1969, and dedicated on December 14, 1969 by Cardinal Cody. In 1970,
permission was granted for construction of the 4-bedroom rectory at 3535
In the 1990’s, several building projects were
undertaken and completed. In 1994, Marian hall was constructed, the
existing Father Buckley Hall was renovated, and the new meeting rooms were
created for the parish use. On the Feast of Christ the King, November 26, 1995, the Perpetual
Eucharistic Adoration Chapel was dedicated and opened.
In 1998, the church and chapel were renovated and
the Pro-Life Shrine was built. Francis Cardinal George joined in the
celebration, dedicating, and blessing the church, chapel, and shrine on
September 11, 1999.
The Early Childhood Development Center was completed
and opened in the fall of 2001. This will be a year-round center offering
daycare for working parents, and will be educationally based.
Father Buckley retired on January 1, 1981 and served as
Pastor Emeritus. He died on October 7, 1987. He was succeeded by Father
Joseph Auer as Pastor until June 1989, when Father James Murphy became
Pastor. Fr. Murphy served as pastor for 13 years and then accepted a
pastoral assignment at St. Barbara's Church in Brookfield, IL, at which
point Fr. Robert Mair, working as associated pastor for the previous 2
years, was assigned to be pastor of St. Catherine Laboure. Fr Mair retired in July, 2008 and is now the
Pastor Emeritus. Fr. P. Maina Waithaka was assigned to the Parish to
succeed Fr. Mair and is now the current pastor.