They were among the first group of lay associates, who took a risk and joined the Viatorian Community, knowing only that they wanted to partner with the religious order that had inspired them.DSC_0002_crop

Mary Finks, Marilyn Mulcahy and John Ohlendorf all were recognized during a St. Viator Day celebration at the Viatorian Province Center, which drew associates and professed from the Arlington Heights/Chicago and Bourbonais/Kankakee regions.

“They were the pioneers,” said Fr. Thomas von Behren, provincial. “They were the ones who helped us shaped this new community of lay and professed, working and ministering side by side, united in the charism of our founder, Fr. Louis Querbes.”IMG_1430

All three brought uniques gifts to the community and worked tirelessly in their respective parishes, along side of Viatorian priests and brothers.

Marilyn remembers serving on the Parish Council at St. Patrick’s Church, when they were searching for a new Director of Religious Education.

“I’m a nurse, and I had every intention of working in the medical field,” Marilyn said. “But after a long search, I don’t know, something came over me and I told the pastor, ‘You know, I could do this job.’ “IMG_1420

More than 30 years later, Marilyn remains on staff at St. Patrick’s, now as a pastoral associate, where she coordinates everything from prayer services and the Sunday bulletin, to organizing classes for adults and children, and a multitude of other things.

“Becoming a Viatorian Associate helped shape my life,” Marilyn says. “Right from the beginning, I loved their openness, their mission and their attitude toward women. They recognized our gifts and encouraged us to use them.”

John Ohlendorf spent 30 years as a teacher and he was naturally drawn to the Viatorians’ educational mission and commitment to young people. Over the years, he has served as a lector, Eucharistic minister and on the Parish Council. He also developed a popular “Living Last Supper” performance staged during Holy Week at Maternity BVM Parish.IMG_1423

“I was drawn to the intellectualism of the Viatorians, and their openness and spirit of inclusion,” John says. “I’ve valued being an associate with them all these years and having the chance to work with them.”

Mary Finks says she and her husband selected their parish — St. Patrick’s Parish run by Viatorians — and then found their new home. Once they settled, Mary jumped in and started volunteering in multiple parish ministries.

Although she continues to work as a hospice nurse, music continues to drive her, and in particular serving as a cantor, where she takes seriously her role of bringing participants into fuller participation.

“Music ministry has held me all these years,” Mary says, ” but I’ve really valued how open the Viatorians were and how welcoming. It’s been a good fit from the start.”