The Province of Chicago celebrates an important milestone on Aug. 3 — the 20th anniversary of association. The milestone falls one day after  the 137th anniversary of the founding of the Chicago Province.

(L-R) Associates Marilyn Mulcahy, Reina Raymond, John Ohlendorf, Mary Finks and Mary Jane Bucher made their commitments in 1999.

“Our community has been greatly enriched by the incorporation of our associates,” says Fr. Dan Hall, CSV, Provincial. “They are a blessing to us all.”

Associates Mary Jane Bucher, Mary Finks, Marilyn Mulcahy, John Ohlendorf and Reisha Raymond were the pioneers. They made their commitments in the chapel at Saint Viator High School in 1999.

All five were from the Bourbonnais/Kankakee region and they arrived at that point after working in parish ministry with Viatorians and after discernment as pre-associates. They paved the way for the 86 current associates and another eight pre-associates in formation.

A more current photo of Associates Mary Finks, Marilyn Mulcahy and John Ohlendorf who remain actively involved in the Viatorian Community.

Prior to that, the Viatorian Community consisted of religious brothers and priests. With the first associates, the community expanded to include lay and religious working together to advance the Viatorian charism.

Viatorians had debated the question of associates for years, but its roots date back more than 50 years, to the post-Vatican II years and its wide-sweeping changes that resulted in the church and religious communities.

In 1984, Viatorians in the Chicago Province formally began to explore the possibility, and in 1999 the first associates joined in the Viatorian mission, spirituality and community life.

A stone etched with the names of the first five remains embedded in the path at the historic grotto on the grounds of Maternity BVM Parish in Bourbonnais, the first place where Viatorians arrived in 1865.