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Chicago, IL (July 23, 2007)—In an effort to attract young men to the priesthood, the Archdiocese of Chicago has restructured its Vocations Office. The top priority of the office will be to recruit and screen young Catholic men from all of Chicago’s neighborhoods and across Cook and Lake counties in preparation for applying to a seminary, particularly the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. Fr. Joe Noonan will report to Very Rev. John F. Canary, Vicar General of the Archdiocese.

Fr. Noonan, ordained in 1995, has served as Archdiocesan Vocation Director since July 2002. As part of the restructure, his office has moved from Mundelein Seminary to the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center, 155 East Superior Street in Chicago. Reporting to Fr. Noonan will be seven assistant vocation directors. Six of the assistant vocation directors will each work in one of the six geographic areas of the Archdiocese, known as vicariates, and one will work at-large. Additionally, two seminary assistant vocation directors/recruiters will also assist in the vocation effort.

The newly assigned assistant vocation directors by vicariate are: Vicariate I (Lake County, Northwest suburbs) Fr. Robert Fedek, associate pastor, St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish in Mundelein; Vicariate II (Northern Cook County, North side of Chicago) Fr. Jacek Jura, associate pastor, St. John Brebeuf Parish in Niles; Vicariate III (near Northwest and West sides of Chicago) Fr. Marco Mercado, pastor, Good Shepherd Parish in Chicago; Vicariate IV (Northwest side of Chicago and Western Cook County) Fr. Brendan Lupton, associate pastor, St. John of the Cross Parish in Western Springs; Vicariate V (Southwest side of Chicago and Southwest suburbs) Fr. Waldemar Stawiarski, associate pastor, St. Stephen Deacon and Martyr Parish in Tinley Park; and Vicariate VI (South and Southeast sides of Chicago and South suburbs) Fr. Tom Belanger, associate pastor, St. Philip Neri Parish in Chicago.

Fr. Dick Mueller, pastor of St. Norbert Parish in Northbrook, will fill the at-large role and help with InSearch, the existing program that identifies good priest candidates already on career paths. Stressing the urgency of examining the needs of each vicariate by a priest at least one day a week, Fr. Noonan noted, “Each of our vicariates is as large or larger in population and number of Catholic institutions than 75 percent of dioceses in the country.”

Fr. Ken Carlson and Fr. Gerald Walsh, Assistant Vocation Directors/Recruiters, will assist with vocation efforts at Mundelein Seminary and St. Joseph College Seminary at Loyola University respectively. Both men will also assist in vocation programs such as Andrew Dinners that are hosted by auxiliary bishops.

Vocations Office priests will encourage priests of their vicariates to act as inviters, since the recent United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) data shows that 75 to 80 percent of newly ordained priests said they pursued their vocation as a result of either a personal invitation or encouragement by a priest. A second priority will be for the Vocations Office to help create a culture of vocations through education, retreats, vocation promotion, and discernment groups.

The Vocations Office will also pilot three new programs. The first is Totus Tuus (Totally Yours), a week-long, parish based retreat for youth in elementary and high schools, conducted by college-age men and women. Totus Tuus is now being offered in twelve U.S. dioceses, inspiring team members and youth to pursue the priesthood and religious life. Some members go on to teach in Catholic schools or serve as youth ministers and directors of religious education programs. The second is Focus 11, a daylong event for 6th grade students to come together and explore vocation possibilities. The third is Vocation Parish, in which selected parishes will be asked to pilot Future Full of Hope, a USCCB program designed to encourage a vocation culture among all parish personnel.

Additionally, Sr. Peter Mary Hettling, CSJ, formerly Director of Vocations for Religious, will continue to direct Archdiocesan recruiting efforts for religious orders of sisters, priests and brothers, from the Office for Religious. She will have the title Vicar for Religious along with the current Vicar for Religious, Sr. Joan McGlinchey, MSC.

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