Fr. James Fanale, CSV, began his Viatorian ministry as a teacher of
English, first at Bishop McNamara High School in Kankakee, before moving to the college ranks, including at the University of Illinois, St. Mary of the Woods College and DePaul University.
He would spend the next six years as archivist for the Viatorian Community, before heading down to rural St. Anne, IL, to serve as pastor of St. Anne Church.
Fr. Fanale celebrated his 50th jubilee this summer and he retired this month. However, he stayed at St. Anne long enough to carry on a much loved tradition: the St. Anne Novena.
“This is a place of grace,” Fr. Fanale says, “where many have found peace and healing.”
Viatorians have run the historic St. Anne Church since 1920 and as a result, they have continued the tradition started by its French Canadian founders, of holding a novena to St. Anne, the mother of Mary, for nine days leading up to her feast day on July 26.
“People still like the concept of a devotion to St. Anne,” Fr. Fanale says, “because she’s an older person and a grandmother. They find comfort that someone knows their aches and pains and the difficulties in life they have.”
Hosting the novena is a major undertaking for the tiny parish, but Fr. Fanale and his parishioners have faithfully held it each year.
Each day begins wih a special Mass and a reflection, typically offered by a Viatorian, and a litany to the saints is offered.
The novena culminates on the feast of St. Anne, with a whole day of activities, from a morning reflection offered by Associate Marilyn Mulcahy, an outdoor anointing Mass and children’s activities, to a procession with the relic through the surrounding neighborhoods, and a closing Mass that night.
“What a wonderful intercession she is for all us who have come to St. Anne, with the sense that she knows just where we are in our lives,” Fr. Fanale added. “With the tender brush of her hand, we are her much loved children.”