History of St. Eulalia Parish
The story of St. Eulalia can be told in three parts: its founding as a prosperous suburban parish, a middle phase as transition to and consolidation of a new model, and a continuing transition to the future.
Founding: 1927 – 1967
On June 13, 1927, George Cardinal Mundelein created a new parish in Maywood to serve Catholics in the rapidly developing near-western suburbs of Chicago. The parish was named in honor of St. Eulalia of Barcelona, a young woman martyr in Roman times who became co-patron saint of that city.
Fr. William F. Owens, the first pastor, focused initially on building a parochial school. He invited the Sisters of Charity, BVM to operate the school, which opened in September 1928 with 279 students. Over the next 36 years, the school building provided both classrooms for up to 1,000 students, as well as space for celebrating Sunday liturgy.
In its first 40 years, the parish flourished, serving as many as 3,000 parishioners predominantly of Irish, German, and English descent. Under the leadership of Msgr. Martin Muzik, the present church building on Ninth Avenue was erected in 1964. Msgr. Muzik’s plans for further parish construction were halted, however, as rapid demographic change in Maywood began to impact the St. Eulalia community. Msgr. Muzik died suddenly in 1967. Fr. William Quinn (later Monsignor) was appointed as pastor.
Transition: 1968 – 2004
Fr. Quinn came to St. Eulalia with considerable experience as a leader on social justice. He had served as the American bishops’ liaison with bishops in Latin America, attended two sessions of the Second Vatican Council, marched with Martin Luther King, and was friend and advisor to Cesar Chavez. He took on leadership at St. Eulalia as Maywood was experiencing rapid racial change. As white Catholics moved out, African-Americans (mostly Protestant) moved in. Quinn insisted strongly there was no room for racism in the church. Gradually, a racially diverse congregation of old and new parishioners took shape, committed to each other, and to reaching out in service.
In 1970, Assistant Pastor John Boyle founded ECHO (Eulalia Community Helping Others) which provided a food pantry, thrift store, help for the sick, and medical supplies to the needy. Led by Sister Shirley Fineran, ECHO established a tradition of community service lasting into the present.
In 1986, (now Monsignor) Quinn retired, and Fr. James Quinlan became pastor. Quinlan continued the direction of the Quinn years, bringing his own unique talents as an inspirational preacher and the financial skills of a former businessman. The Quinlan years saw continued demographic shift, as the number of Catholic children in the parish declined drastically, forcing the eventual closing of the parish school in 2002. Quinlan retired as pastor in 2004.
St. Eulalia enjoyed 36 years of strong pastoral leadership in the two 18-year terms of Quinn and Quinlan, which firmly established the character of the parish as a genuinely integrated, diverse community. That foundation prepared St. Eulalia for welcoming still further racial and ethnic diversity.
Toward the Future: 2004 – Present
In 2004, Fr. Frank Latzko became pastor, succeeding Quinlan. Almost immediately, St. Eulalia faced a question about its future. The Archdiocese determined that Maywood could support only one parish, either St. Eulalia or sister parish St. James. Ultimately St. James was closed and its parishioners invited to St. Eulalia.
The parish tradition of social concern took new steps with the beginning of a weekly soup kitchen coordinated by parishioner Martha Minnich, and assisting with shelter for the homeless through PADS (now Housing Forward).
In 2008, Fr. Carmelo Mendez became pastor. He enlivened the Eulalia tradition of community outreach by reopening the unused school building as a center of service to the neighboring community. The new center, under the leadership of Gabriel Lara, was named after and dedicated to the spirit of Msgr. Quinn. The Quinn Community Center (the Quinn Center) became the organizing arm of parish outreach, including the soup kitchen and food pantry, and beginning new programs of service to children, youth, and seniors. After 5 years as pastor, Fr. Carmelo left for mission work in Mexico.
In 2013, pastoral leadership of St. Eulalia was entrusted to the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, with Fr. Mike Arkins, SSS, named as the new pastor. Fr. Arkins brings years of experience as pastor in Cleveland, Salt Lake City, and Florida, and the parish now enjoys the auxiliary help of other members of the Blessed Sacrament community.
In 2015, the Quinn Community Center celebrated its fifth year of operation simultaneously with the 100th anniversary of the birth of Msgr. Quinn. The Quinn Community Center has developed a leadership role in welcoming yet a new demographic group – Hispanics –into Maywood and association with St. Eulalia parish.
Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament:
In the years following its brutal Revolution, France was given a number of healing remedies. One of them was a priest, who would in time become a saint, and be known as The Apostle of the Eucharist. Born in 1811, Fr. Peter Julian Eymard’s life began within the town of La Mure d’Isère nestled in the foothills of the Alps. Eymard’s journey to being the champion of the Eucharist was far from straightforward. Having survived serious illness, he was eventually ordained for the Diocese of Grenoble. Yet, Eymard sensed a call to Religious life, and responding to a natural love he found in Our Lady, he joined the Marists, a new Religious Order that was emerging at that time. It was during seventeen years of ministry among the Marists that he came to the realization that God was calling him to do something, -quite definite- for the Eucharist.
As a response to this call, the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament was founded on May 13th, 1856 in Paris. What was to be the work of this new Religious Congregation born right at the center of the Church? In Eymard’s own words, “we do adoration, certainly…we also want to work on the 1st communion of adults.” Fr. Peter Julian’s Eucharistic Society, which set out as both a contemplative and apostolic project had slow and shaky beginnings, but soon grew as lay women and men and Religious set about promoting the reign of the Eucharist in people’s lives and society. An important junction in Fr. Peter Julian’s life occurred during a retreat in Rome on March 21st, 1865. Having seen the Eucharist as Jesus’ total gift of himself to the world, Fr. Eymard felt compelled to respond by making a vow of his personality: he became a total instrument of Christ, so that it was not he that was living, but Christ at work through him [ref: Galatians 2: 20] For Fr. Eymard therefore, the Eucharist became not just something that we do, but a way of living.
The Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament continues the work of St. Peter Julian Eymard and seeks to share and promote his Apostleship of the Eucharist within the 29 countries that its members are found in all 5 continents. The Congregation that Eymard founded continues to keep alive a particular aspect of his personality: his natural ability to teach and accompany lay women and men into the Eucharistic life. That is why the Aggregation (Associates) of the Blessed Sacrament came into being in 1859 and continues to grow in the United States today. Here at St. Eulalia’s, four members of the Congregation and three Associates’ of the Blessed Sacrament discern God’s call so that they in turn can respond in various ways to promoting the reign of the Eucharist in this parish. It is where we are called to be!
Br. Darren Maslen, SSS
The Jesus of the Gospels calls us to a life of engagement – to live out our faith in the places and with the people and in the circumstances of real life. Jesus asks us to be part of the mission that He began, and to use well all the resources God has entrusted to us.
St. Eulalia offers a wide variety of opportunities for engagement in the parish mission: in the many liturgical ministries that support our parish worship, in teaching our faith to children, in ministry of care for the sick and homebound, in the activities of parish organizations, and in the caring efforts of the Quinn Community Center.
An important step in becoming part of the St. Eulalia mission is the simple act of commitment involved in registering as a parishioner. It says, to yourself and to others in the parish, I want to belong, to be a part of what is happening here.
New parishioners are invited to register online, to call the parish office (708) 343-6120, or to fill out a registration form found in the vestibule of the church and drop it in the collection basket. The pastor or parish staff will contact you.
In addition to our time, talent, and energy, discipleship as good stewards invites us to share in the financial support of our parish. Our life as a parish community depends on the realities of buildings and utility bills, staff to organize and serve, bulletins and phones and internet to bring us together. Stewardship in the Gospel context is much more extensive and much more challenging than writing a check. But we are called to share our treasure as well.
Registering for parish envelopes and contributing regularly to the weekend collection enables us to participate in the offertory – the gifts we bring to the altar at Mass. Envelopes may be requested at the Parish Office (708) 343-6120. Donation to the parish is also possible through the internet, using the link below.