Fr. John Peeters, CSV, made the rounds on Christmas Day, visiting some of the sites serving up dinner to people who might otherwise be alone on the holiday. He came as the pastor of St. Patrick Church in Kankakee but also as a board member of the Christmas Day, Inc. foundation, which hosts the annual event.

Fr. Peeters with the Fisher family at the Lisieux Pastoral Center in Kankakee

“It was heartwarming to see St. Patrick parishioners and friends working at several sites,” Fr. Peeters said, “and to have a bit more leisure time to visit with various guests.”

Christmas Day, Inc. began in 1995, as a mission of Grace Community United Methodist Church in Bourbonnais, which conceived the event as a way to bring people together and serve the less fortunate. Its board has grown to include religious, government and business leaders. Fr. Peeters was invited to join the board 15 years ago.

Right from the start, they created a golf outing in September in order to fund the dinners. This year’s fundraiser took place Sept. 20 at Oak Springs Golf Course in St. Anne, IL, and raised more than $20,000 to underwrite the dinners.

“Over the years, I have been more involved with helping out at the organization’s September golf outing,” Fr. Peeters says, “which raises funds to sponsor the Christmas dinners.”

Fr. Peeters with St. Pat’s parishioners Suzette and George Flageole before they serve up pumpkin pie.

The foundation started by serving dinners at one location and now has spread out to 10 different sites: Bourbonnais, Bradley, Grant Park, Manteno, Momence, Kankakee (two locations), St. Anne, Sun River Terrace, and Pembroke, its newest location. Last year, Christmas Day Inc. provided more than 1,100 meals to their guests.

At the outset, the goal was — and still is — to make sure no one is home alone on Christmas, which resonated with Fr. Peeters. As a Viatorian he is committed to embracing “those accounted of little importance.”

“All of those participating, both team members and guests, seemed to agree,” Fr. Peeters added, “that this is an event that truly reflects the spirit of Christmas giving and sharing.”