In all the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, Viatorians always set aside time to gather as regional groups in prayer every Advent season.

Pre-Associate John Paulik, left, and Fr. Corey Brost, right, listen to a reading presented by Fr. John Van Wiel

For members of the Arlington Heights and Chicago region, associates, brothers and priests gathered on the third Sunday of Advent at the Viatorian Province Center, for a service that combined music, Scripture readings, reflection and fellowship afterwards.

These focused prayer services regularly bring associates and vowed religious together and reinforce their shared responsibility in advancing the Viatorian mission.

The region’s five pre-associates — Barbara D’Urso, Christine Gucwa, John Paulik and Ann and Christopher Perez — attended after gathering for one of their regular formation meetings.

From right: Pre-Associates Barbara D’Urso, Ann and Christopher Perez take part in the prayer service

Now in their second year of discernment, group members have gone from studying the history of the Viatorian Community, to exploring the spirituality of the religious community and its founder, Fr. Louis Querbes.

“You’d think that after teaching at a Viatorian school for 20 years that I’d have an understanding of the Viatorian charism, but I don’t,” said Barbara D’Urso, who teaches religion at Saint Viator High School.

“To be able to dive deeper into the Viatorian mission, with people who are as passionate about their spirituality as I am,” she adds, “is really enlightening.”

Fr. Mick Egan, right, leads the Advent prayer service

Her colleague at the high school, Ann Perez, has only taught religion there for the last four years, but she and her husband, an administrator at St. Patrick’s High School in Chicago, eagerly accepted an invitation to become Viatorian associates.

“The one thing that keeps coming up in all of our studies,” Ann Perez says, “is the mission of teaching. That just resonates with our own spirituality and it seems to be at the center of the Viatorian charism.”

Lord, Jesus, as we come together as a Viatorian Community in celebration of this Advent Season, help us to be the peace, joy and love in the world. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.