CSW 2023 - Celebrating Our Parish
By definition, a Catholic parish is a stable community of the faithful within a particular church/school, whose pastoral care has been entrusted to a parish priest, under the authority of the diocesan bishop. Such a secular description only skims of the surface of our identity, our goals and our faith. History is our foundation while evolution is our progression. Let us take a deeper look at who we are and who we aspire to be…
Who are we?
Infant Jesus of Prague/St. Veronica Parish School promotes Catholic education and traditions with Christian values in a loving, secure and compassionate environment centered on Jesus’ teachings
Through this vital ministry of St. Veronica Parish, students and families from diverse backgrounds work together as a community of respect, spirituality and academic achievement
We focus on excellence in education with a commitment to the total formation of all students as they journey through life
We are fully alive and growing with a clear sense of mission to form new disciples of Jesus Christ, renew the community around it and witness to the love of God in inspiring ways
We are filled with engaged parishioners deepening their relationship with God and sharing their faith with others
We are a community where everyone, regardless of their background, current state in life or relationship with God and His Catholic Church feel a strong sense of belonging and that there is a place for them in the parish
We are a place of worship in which Masses and liturgies are so vibrant that the “Sunday experience” is transformative for all - old, young, regular parishioners and guests
We are a faith-filled institution that looks beyond its church building and parking lot to bring the healing grace of Jesus Christ to the world and address with greater intentionality the ills of our age
We are Infant Jesus of Prague/St. Veronica Parish School
Two Halves/One Whole
Infant Jesus of Prague/St. Veronica Parish School is committed to the vision of Catholic education and to providing a Christian atmosphere. We believe that Catholic education provides doctrinal instruction, faith formation, liturgical experiences, development of moral values and involvement in the Church. The church is an integral part of the school and the school is an integral part of the parish. Together our faith inspires us to design educational programming that aims to make each child a lifelong learner and a contributing member of society and the Catholic Church. Two such examples of our community coming together as one were both our Promethean board and air conditioning campaigns.
As Catholic schools prepared to return to the classroom in August 2020 for both in-person and remote learning, a countless number of measures were taken for the academic, health and safety well-being of students and staff. While the detail of this planning and execution is unsurpassed during these unprecedented times, additional needs were recognized to better support students and teachers alike. In mid-October 2020, a letter from Infant Jesus of Prague School Principal Charlotte Kelly was included in the parish bulletin explaining the need for upgraded technology and requesting parishioners, alumni and parents for support. The goal was to purchase, deliver and install four Promethean boards - one for each junior high classroom. Through email, social media, word of mouth and the grace of God, Infant Jesus of Prague School’s prayers were answered. By early November 2020, the overwhelming generosity of the Infant Jesus of Prague/St. Veronica Parish School community allowed the school to purchase ten Promethean boards - one for each classroom. With tears of joy and humbled hearts, the IJP School staff was moved beyond words.
Environmental factors also impact students of all ages and affect the learning process making air conditioning essential for education.
Did you know…?
Air conditioning regulates the indoor air quality
Test scores are affected by less than ideal temperatures
Excess heat can hurt student learning
Allergens entering the school can be blocked
Filtered air traps viruses and bacteria
Heatstroke may be prevented
In January 2022, a generous leadership donation was given as well as a 1:1 matching challenge issued to raise enough funds to provide air conditioning to the entire school. Our parishioners, school families, alumni and our community unflinchingly stepped up to this challenge. Our air conditioning goal was ultimately met by March 2022 much to the gratefulness of both students and staff.
Meet Bernie Hoffman
With a longstanding history and presence in the community, St. Veronica is grateful for and humbled by our faithful supporters. Longtime St. Veronica Parishioner/IJP School Alum Bernie Hoffman shares with us her experiences with both our church and school.
1. Would you be able to talk a little bit about your history here in the St. Veronica parish (formerly as a parishioner in the IJP parish) and any connection you have with our school?
I am a life-long member of the community. My family moved to the Olympia Fields when I was less than a year old and joined Infant Jesus of Prague parish at that time. A few years later, I attended and graduated from IJP school. Later when my husband, Mike Hoffman, and I married, Mike joined the parish community.
I learned algebra skills from junior high teacher Mr. Lynch as well as life and communication skills from eighth grade English teacher Mrs. Gittings both of which I use in my current job these great many years later. Second grade teacher Mrs. Henneberry modeled kindness first while teaching in the classroom that reminds me to try to lead with compassion no matter what situation I encounter.
2. Can you tell us a little about the transition from Infant Jesus of Prague to St. Veronica?
As one might imagine, the Renew My Church process was a long and sometimes challenging process. However my husband, Mike, and I decided to participate in activities at some of the other parish communities during the time of transition, as well as take part in some joint activities together with the folks from the other communities, so that we would have a chance to get to know the people. This helped immensely because when we officially united together as St. Veronica we already made new friends and could collaborate on a few official unified parish activities, such as our Unification Mass and 2022 Giving Tree, somewhat seamlessly so that we could all journey forward together towards a common goal to benefit the community.
3. How would you describe our students, staff, and school, from your view as a parishioner?
Mrs. Kelly, the IJP school principal, is highly engaged in the life of the school and knows the names of most, if not all, of the students as well as their background stories. Some of the teachers such as Cathy Hughes, the IJP school junior high religion teacher, have generously assisted me in providing resources in my role as a 6th grade parish Religious Ed catechist. Justin De Angelo, our parish music director, has put together a wonderful children’s choir that brings together the children from both IJP school and the parish Religious Ed program to lead our community in sung prayer during our monthly parish Family Masses.
4. As a Catholic school providing faith-based education to our students, we pride ourselves on teaching the skills and values needed for the next generation to thrive, as well as our sense of community. What would you consider a long-term plan for success for our parish and school?
I would not be the person I am without the time and great investment from both the parish and school community during my developmental years. It is imperative that both our parish and school provide a welcoming environment for our children and parish families to grow, thrive and become who God has created them to be. I used to say that the children of the parish and school community are our future. I no longer think that because as these children bring food to support our PADS meal program, collect items to help area social service agencies and enthusiastically lead prayer and/or song during our parish Masses it is obvious that the future is now and God is shining brightly through these efforts not only within our community but to world at large.