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Archdiocesan Priest, Rev. Michael P. Ahlstrom, Dies

Ahlstrom was former vicar for deacons and former pastor of St. Colette Parish in Rolling Meadows

Chicago (May 8, 2024) – Rev. Michael P. Ahlstrom, retired priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago and former pastor of St. Colette Parish in Rolling Meadows, passed away Friday, May 3, 2024, at the age of 82.

Ahlstrom was born on April 7, 1942, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He attended Quigley Preparatory Seminary in Chicago, the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein and the University of Notre Dame du Lac in Notre Dame, Indiana, where he earned a master’s degree in Liturgical Studies.

Ahlstrom was ordained to the priesthood on May 14, 1969, by Cardinal John Cody, and he celebrated his first solemn Mass on May 17 of the same year at St. Athanasius Parish in Evanston (now merged under St. John Newman Parish).

After ordination to the priesthood, Ahlstrom was a faculty member at Niles College of Loyola University and assistant pastor at St. Bernadette Parish in Evergreen Park. He then served as associate pastor at St. Gertrude Parish in Franklin Park, Mary, Seat of Wisdom Parish in Park Ridge, and Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish on Spaulding Avenue in Chicago. Following his time at those parishes, Ahlstrom served as pastor of St. Colette Parish in Rolling Meadows from 1989 until 2003.

In 2004, Ahlstrom started a new assignment as vicar for deacons. He served in that role until 2013 and continued serving as vicar emeritus. As reported in the archdiocesan newspaper Chicago Catholic on the occasion of the 50th priesthood anniversary of the 1969 ordination class, Ahlstrom served the Archdiocese of Chicago in a variety of ways, including: associate director of the Office for Divine Worship; instructor and chairman of the board of the Liturgical Institute in Mundelein; instructor in medical ethics at the Little Company of Mary School of Nursing; priest presenter for Engaged Encounter and Marriage Encounter; pastor in residence and liturgy instructor at Mundelein Seminary; board member of Chicago Studies; member of the Annual Catholic Appeal board; and member of Catholic Charities’ Parish Outreach Committee.

Deacon James Norman, current vicar for deacons, worked with Ahlstrom for the last two years. “It was clear that he valued and loved the diaconate community: deacons, their wives and families. He was always there when needed to celebrate a Mass, lead a prayer, coach and mentor. He left us a legacy of love and support.”

Deacon David Brencic, assistant director of the Office of the Diaconate, also was a friend and colleague of Ahlstrom. “He was really loved by the deacons and wives, and it was mutual,” Brencic said. “I remember him saying at several gatherings of deacons and wives, ‘My main job is to love you.’ He was a true shepherd and generous servant.”

Rev. Robert Heidenreich, retired archdiocesan priest and one of Ahlstrom’s closest friends and classmates, remembered Ahlstrom as an incredible person who always cared about other people. Heidenreich recalled his humility, how he was always concerned with the people. “He was a real guy and people loved him,” he added.

“He was very much a liturgist and was very involved,” said Rev. William Zavaski, retired archdiocesan priest and one of Ahlstrom’s closest friends and classmates. “He was always willing to give up his time and help others.” Zavaski remembered Ahlstrom as a great listener who took pride in his community. He recalled his friend as a very personable and kind person, always “very concerned with those around him, especially the priests that he lived with, in the hopes that they would always have everything that they needed.”

All funeral services will take place at St. Barbara Church of Holy Guardian Angels Parish, 4000 Prairie Avenue in Brookfield. Lying in State will be Tuesday, May 14 from 3 to 7 p.m. (with a vigil prayer service at 7 p.m.), and Wednesday, May 14 from 10 to 11 a.m.

The funeral Mass will take place on Wednesday, May 15 at 11 a.m. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, will be the main celebrant and Zavaski will be the homilist.

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Interment will occur Thursday, May 16 at 2 p.m. at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Evanston.