“Here we go!”
With those words, Fr. Patrick Render, CSV, greeted St. George parishioners at Saturday’s 5 p.m. Mass. It was his first introduction to the rural parish, where he is stepping in as pastor for the next four months while Fr. Daniel Belanger, CSV, goes on sabbatical.
“Well, Fr. Dan is away and I’m here. You’re stuck with me for the next four months,” he quipped. “No, I’m happy to be here with you.”
In fact, Fr. Render says he found parish members to be warm and welcoming — they even cooked him breakfast in between Sunday’s Masses. He knows he’s in good hands, especially with the many active Viatorian associates involved in the parish, including: Susan Bourgeois, Robert and Julie Lampley, Curt and Kathleen Saindon, and Paula Wasser.
In terms of running the parish’s internal operations, Fr. Render will look to Associate Curt Saindon, who serves on the Finance Committee, while Associate Julie Lampley serves on the Parish Pastoral Council, and Associate Paula Wasser is a sacristan, lector and involved in many outreach projects.
In filling in for the next few months, Fr. Render continues the Viatorian legacy at the parish. The first Viatorian to serve there was Fr. Francis Chouinard, CSV, from 1898 – 1903, followed by Fr. A.J. Tardif, CSV, from 1903 – 1909. After an interval of nearly 45 years, the Viatorians resumed the role of pastor from 1954 to the present.
Fr. Render brings a wealth of experience to the parish, having been a Viatorian for more than 60 years. In the early years of his ministry, he led Saint Viator High School as principal and president, before spending 10 years in provincial leadersip. He then moved into parish ministry, serving as pastor of St. Joseph Church in Springfield for seven years, at St. Thomas More in Henderson, NV for 14 years and at St. Viator Parish in Chicago for six years, before moving to the Kankakee/Bourbonnais region to serve as director of association.
With each assignment, Fr. Render has been open to whatever the Viatorian Community needs. Stepping in at St. George has been smooth, he says, with its level of parishioner engagement and the beauty of its parish grounds.
“The gardens are truly remarkable,” Fr. Render says, “and create quite a beautiful scene as you drive across the highway in front of the church.”
On St. George Road, he notes, naturally!