The Viatorian Province Center is set on nearly seven acres of land and serves as the headquarters of the

This giant maple tree turns gold every fall and welcomes visitors to the Province Center. (Photos by Fr. Charles Bolser)

Chicago Province, but unofficially it is something of a nature sanctuary. With its rolling land, dotted with close to 100 trees and mature garden beds of perennials and annuals, it offers a sense of peace and serenity to all who visit.

Every fall, these historic trees put on a glorious show of color, that Viatorians look forward to year after year. However, they don’t stay healthy looking and vibrant on their own. A regular crew of groundskeepers trim the trees and replace dying ones with new ones.

Steve Burks

Steve Burks, director of buildings and grounds for the Province Center, oversees their care. Just last month, he chose 10 new trees to be planted — ranging from autumn oaks and maples, to burning bushes, crabapple and Kentucky coffee trees.

“What I look for is color,” says Burks, who has supervised the grounds for more than a dozen years, and the Saint Viator High School campus for more than 35 years.

The lush grounds reflect the rich farmland and orchards that Viatorians purchased more than 60 years ago and converted it into the Province Center and its namesake high school on the northern edge of the property.

As a religious community, Viatorians are committed to caring for all of God’s creation and the nature sanctuary that comes alive before their eyes reminds them daily of the magnificence of God’s creation.