Upon the retirement of our Rector of 42 years, St Paul’s Parish in Riverside, Illinois, a National Landmark suburb 11 miles west of Chicago’s Loop, is actively seeking a Rector.
Who we are
We are a non-geographic “destination” congregation of mid-size (ASA: 50); Catholic, Anglican, Episcopal, and Benedictine in spirituality and culture. Our liturgical style is Solemn Rite II Benedictine monastic—an example of noble simplicity. We do not rely on gimmickry to try to bring people in. Benedictine hospitality and spirituality are what we do here, with no obsession with numerical growth at any cost. The kind of growth we are interested in is growth in the historic, orthodox Catholic tradition of Benedictine spirituality and life so that we may be an active part of the life and ministry of the Triune God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Our people travel from places as far from Riverside as Chicago’s far north Jefferson Park, the Loop (Printer’s Row), Hyde Park and Beverly, and the suburbs of Prospect Heights, Barrington, Bolingbrook, Darien, and Naperville—all places where there are Episcopal churches closer to home—because they are deeply drawn to the way we embody our Benedictine spirituality and culture. St Paul’s congregation is economically diverse, multicultural, and a mix of ages. At present, there are few children represented, but this is part of the ebb and flow of congregational life.
St Paul’s could not exist as a neighborhood parish in Riverside. Riverside is largely secular/ Roman Catholic with small communities of Lutherans, Presbyterians, and a handful of Methodists. We are most definitely a niche church—Pre-Constantinian, a remnant.
In the practice of Benedictine spirituality, we have a full spectrum of parishioners at St Paul’s: those who are pursuing vowed membership in a religious community living under a common Rule of Life; those who want to incorporate—to one degree or another—some elements of Benedictine spirituality into their lives but cannot or do not wish to make any radical changes in their daily lives; and those who have no interest at all in personal participation in specifically Benedictine spirituality—at least at this time in their lives—but like the things that Benedictine culture produces in the life of the parish (intentional worship, solid Catholic theology, stability, a focus on Christian education and formation, a high value given to authentic Christian community, etc.).
The Rector we seek should be fully committed to serving Christ and His people with integrity, dignity, perseverance, intelligence, and a well-developed sense of humor. Pastoral care is vitally important, as is the ability to be an effective abbatial-style administrator, not only of the seven Sacraments but also the quotidian work of the parish.
As a lay religious community in the Benedictine tradition, our mission is to equip and support people in their God-given vocation and ministry. Our parish mission statement follows:
St Paul’s parish mission is evangelization,
that is, the life-long process of helping
people grow into their God-given ministry.
St Paul’s does this by being a Catholic religious community
centered in the Eucharist,
providing educational and spiritual development
and ongoing support
so that people, through their unique ministries,
can, in turn, reach out to others.
Our liturgy is intentional, Solemn Rite II according to the use of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer in the western tradition, and Benedictine in style and substance. Though we reside at the Catholic end of the Episcopal Church spectrum, our worship is monastic in nature; we do not practice Anglo-Catholic liturgical style. Our parishioners demand a valid Catholic Mass as well as the other six sacraments. Nothing less will do.
Our principal Mass (10 am) is focused on the Eucharist, bringing our people into the nearer presence of God. We do not practice “open Communion” at St Paul’s. We do have full participation of the laity at this Mass.
We have offered a Rite I/Missal Mass to a small group (5-8) of early risers; during the interregnum, we have suspended this liturgy but would like to reinstate it if possible. It has been necessary to suspend our three weekday liturgies (two evening and one morning) during the transition period, but we expect to resume them post-transition.
Weekday liturgies are conducted in our chapel, which is designed for Rite II use. These liturgies are also Benedictine Catholic in a more intimate setting. Our chapel seats ten comfortably.
Incorporating the laity in ministry at St Paul’s
Adult laypersons are fully incorporated into our liturgy as Servers/Thurifers, Ushers and Counters, Altar Guild, Lectors, Intercessors, and Eucharistic Ministers; younger laypersons often serve as Oblation Bearers and Ushers. Through our Community Services Corporation (CSC) we provide people in the local community an opportunity to be involved in service to area elderly and shut-ins through our renowned organization PeopleCare, get preschool children off to a bright start with Building Blocks Preschool, and assist the residents of nearby Maywood to gain rehabilitated housing in that community through Housing Helpers. (Please note: at this writing, Housing Helpers has been suspended due to the poor housing market. We hope to reinstate HH in future.)
Emphasis is given to education and formation at this parish with fine adult programs—Canterbury Pilgrimage for those new to the Episcopal Church, Adult Theology, which is a prerequisite for anyone planning on being Canonically Resident in the Parish, serving on the Vestry, or becoming a Eucharistic Minister, EFM for those interested in a more intense seminary-level program—and the Montessori-based Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for children. We are working on developing the Catechesis program for adults. An excellent library, curated by a parishioner with an MLS, provides parishioners with numerous opportunities to deepen their understanding of the Christian faith. Our educational programs are so good that in the past five years we have had one adult Baptism (with a conversion from Judaism to Anglicanism), three adult Confirmations, and one parishioner ordained to the priesthood.
Caring for our spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being
Our programs for all ages are highly intentional and specifically focused on spiritual development and preparation for ministry, which is the type of formation found in a Benedictine monastic community. We don’t run programs for their own sake merely to occupy people’s time or to provide recreation (something the secular culture can do far better than the Church). Because we are small in number, we look out for one another and help each other when needs arise. Parishioners often look to the Rector for assistance when encountering a difficulty; occasionally they turn to one of the Churchwardens. Our former Rector had many resources at his disposal, both ordained and lay, to rely on in times of need. He was an extremely effective administrator.
Running this parish cleanly and honestly is just as important as the ability to celebrate Mass. St Paul’s is an endowed parish. Fiduciary responsibility is an absolute must.
Since its incorporation in 1954, St Paul’s Foundation has been quietly doing God’s work in providing good stewardship of funds received.
We owe much to the vision of our founders, who saw a need and rose to the challenge, and to the continuing stewardship of our Boards of Directors in securing a brighter future for this exceptional parish.
St Paul’s Foundation has made grants to aid the Church in South Sudan, assisted communities in Mexico, and provided aid to Native American communities. One Foundation endowment is pledged to “be spent on the ministry and work of one of the constituent Churches of the Anglican Communion worldwide outside the boundaries of both St Paul’s Parish, Riverside, Illinois and the Diocese of Chicago, with the first priority to be given always to the national Anglican Churches which minister in the poorest parts of the world.” Another endowment in St Paul’s Foundation is dedicated to providing education about Stewardship. Stewardship here is a year-round mission for most of our congregation. Our core members are heavily invested in this parish regarding time, talent, and treasure and feel a distinct sense of ownership in St Paul’s.
Pastoral care for those beyond our walls
It can be difficult to get people together to do a service day due to the Parish being non-geographic in nature. However, we have an ongoing relationship with ReVive Center (formerly known as Cathedral Shelter), contributing to them at Christmas, Mother’s- and Father’s Days. We would like to do more in future and work with additional organizations that assist those in need.
Our experience of change and conflict
When change does occur, we educate our parishioners as to why and how this will happen. There may be some private grousing about it, but we adjust. We have not made any wildly radical changes here since the 1970s. That was when the old parish paradigm of the “country club” Episcopal church gave way to our becoming a non-geographic parish. The old paradigm was not working; the parish was failing and on the verge of collapse. Something had to be done without resorting to gimmickry, which does not work and is often the last-ditch effort of a dying parish. The Rector and Vestry explored the concept of the non-geographic parish. Some of the “old guard” were understandably upset about this—some left, but others accepted the change and embraced the idea of a non-geographic parish drawing people from the wider Chicago area. People come to us, not because we are conveniently located near home, but because we have what they’ve been looking for—sound theology, a valid Mass, and an accepting and welcoming family.
The decision to become a non-geographic parish was prescient; we have not regretted it.
We are blessed with having very little conflict here. Because we are a non-geographic parish, there is unanimity of values and goals. But we are human, and occasionally fall victim to our feelings. If a conflict should arise, it may be dealt with by our Parish Council, Vestry, and Rector. We try not to triangulate here, which is unhelpful. Direct discussion with conflicted parties serves us best. Gossip, or murmuring in the Benedictine sense, is undesirable. There will always be gossips among us, but this is kept to a minimum at St Paul’s.
St Paul’s is committed to our Catholic, Benedictine, and Anglican charism and in remaining centered in the Eucharist, upholding orthodox theology, faith, and practice. We hope to maintain our educational programs at all levels. We are a pre-Constantinian Remnant Church—the one Body of Christ shares in each other’s God-given gifts and graces. In doing so we share in the prayer life of those particular souls, lay and ordained, who are elected by God to the full life of Christian prayer on earth. God does His saving work through His Body. We are deeply committed to our Remnant status for the long haul. As the Church continues to shrink in numbers, we hope to carry on, remaining true to Our Lord’s commandment to love one another and by continuing to spread His Gospel by living it and sharing it.
St Paul’s—and the whole Church—must continue to carry on the Orthodox Christian faith in the face of increased secularism. We must continue to be faithful stewards of Our Lord’s bounty. We are countercultural, now more than ever, and this can be a real test of our faith and conviction. Though small in number, we must persevere and continue to commit ourselves—our time, talent, and treasure—to remaining part of the Anglican Communion and faithful to Our Lord’s commandments. We are seeking the right priest to lead us and guide us in our endeavors.
The Village of Riverside
Riverside was settled in 1836 and incorporated in 1869. The Village has enjoyed a National Historic Landmark designation since 1970. Riverside was the first planned model community in the country. The world-renowned landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted (New York City’s Central Park, Jackson Park in Chicago), working with Calvert Vaux, planned the village following the natural contours of the land, resulting in a town that is, in the main, quiet and bucolic, an island in the midst of our bustling urban culture. The town is small and entirely accessible on foot. St Paul’s original church building was designed by William LeBaron Jenney, known as the “father of the skyscraper.” Jenney was also a parishioner. The central business district is the bare minimum with little room for growth, but one is not far from the City, as well as suburban LaGrange, Oak Park, and Oak Brook. Central Grammar School is next door to the church, Hauser Jr. High shares the same block, and the Riverside-Brookfield High School is a short walk away. The Village is on the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe rail line, and Metra commuter service to Chicago is convenient. For more information about our town, see the village website.
Riverside is comprised of many stately homes, upper, middle, and low-middle class housing and apartments and condominium residences.
We invite you to explore our website in depth
Please explore our website, paying particular attention to our Parish Policies and our section titled Catholic FAQs. See also our Parish Profile page. These areas will provide full disclosure on who we are as a parish.