top of page
  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

An Interview with Nancy DeBiasi, CMP

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

Gordon: Please provide an overview of the Secular Order of the Servants of Mary (OSSM) Community within Assumption Church.

Nancy: · The Secular Order of the Servants of Mary (OSSM) is made up of laymen and women who wish to align and unite themselves in the Service or Christ and others, by drawing on the inspiration of Mary.

The Assumption Church’s OSSM Community, “St. Mary, Source of Our Joy”, is involved in many aspects of faith life at Assumption Church, including Deacon-in-Training formation, RCIA formation sponsors, Eucharistic Ministers, Eucharistic Ministers of Care (home and hospital visits), Altar servers, Choir members, Lectors, Hospitality Committee, Knights of Columbus, Wedding ministry, Parish Ministry Fair, Social Justice causes, and, happily, Servite priest celebrations.

Throughout the year, we have presentations given by expert speakers on topics, such as  Human Trafficking, Fair Trade Sales, and Radical Evangelization.  Father David Brown, OSM, presented on his newly published book, “Preaching the Scriptures of The Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary", Father Michael Doyle, OSM, our Spiritual Advisor, presented his reflections on Papal Conclave 1963, and his trip to the Holy Land. 

Father John Pawlikowski, OSM, is scheduled to speak to us on Islamic Relations in January 2016. The OSSM Community participates in many of the Parish activities at Assumption Church, including the Ministry Fair, Annual Dinner & Silent Auction, Bake Sale, Hospitality Coffee service, Church cleaning, etc.

The OSSM Community supports many fundraising efforts at Assumption Church, including the Knights of Columbus' baby bottle drive;  The Chicago HELP Initiative’s feed the homeless efforts, knit cap & glove drive, and annual fundraiser; raffles for our sister Parish, Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica, and the Annual Parish Dinner and Silent Auction.

Annually, in January & February, the Servite Secular Order holds a Toiletry Donations Drive to benefit local area shelters for men and women.

Annually, after the Easter Vigil Mass, the Servite Secular Order sponsors a reception for the new Rite of Christian of Adults (RCIA) with food, treats, and beverages for the new Catholics (Neophytes) and their families.

Annually, on August 23, bread samples are blessed and distributed by members of the Secular Servite Order after morning and Noon Mass in honor of the Feast Day of St. Philip Benizi, OSM, considered to be a founding father of the Servite Order.

Annually, in November, members of the Secular Service Order join other parishioners and serve at the Annual Parish Dinner & Silent Auction.  This is a great way to visit with fellow parishioners, and meet new members!

The Secular Order of the Servants of Mary is a great ministry, and we are always looking for new members!  Thank you for this opportunity!

Gordon: When and why did you join Assumption Church?

Nancy: As a long term employee of The Merchandise Mart Owners, I attended Assumption Church on Holy Days and Sundays, when working our trade shows and events.  A family member, Manetta Calkins, and Father John M. Dowd, OSM, were instrumental in my initial involvement at Assumption Church. Upon their encouragement, I joined the Choir in 2001, and next, upon Father Damian M. Charboneau’s encouragement, Secular Servites (Secular Order of the Servants of Mary) in 2008. Father Joe Chamblain, OSM, further involved me in the Parish Wedding Ministry, assisting visiting priests and wedding parties.

Gordon: If you were recommending Assumption to a potential new parishioner, what aspects of the Parish would you emphasize?

Nancy: What attracted me most to Assumption Church was the welcome feeling I experienced from the Servite priests, as well as the parishioners I met after Mass at the Hospitality Sundays and at the Annual Parish Dinner.  I continue to be enlightened and uplifted by the Servite homilies, which are vital, relevant, and thought provoking. Many of the parishioners at Assumption Church live beyond the River North neighborhood, and travel a distance to attend Mass and many of the parish activities held there.  The ministries at Assumption are as varied as the parishioners, and they continue to grow.  ALL are welcome!

Gordon: Fr. Joe has praised Pope Francis' Encyclical Letter LAUDATO SI and explained that " he Pope is warning us that the cavalier way that our present economic-political system treats earth “our common home” is unsustainable. Today it is the world’s poor who are most affected; tomorrow it will be us. He then proposes very concrete actions, some of which we can take as individuals and some require systemic change. We can practice environmental responsibility by “avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can be reasonably consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transportation or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights . . .”

What impact do you believe that this Encyclical Letter will have on the daily life of most Catholics?

Nancy: I continue to be moved and inspired by Pope Francis’ weekly messages, especially his goals for an inclusive church, and his continual concern for the poor and the environment.  Pope Francis is calling out to “every person on the planet” to think about production, conservation, the environment, and consumerism, prompting us to live in moderation, and to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  My efforts will be to continue to recycle plastics/paper/refuse, conserve electricity and water, conserve gasoline by combining daily errands, and purchase a limited amount of food per week, to avoid waste.  Where possible, and most difficult of all, I am making a concerted effort to reduce the purchase of items sold in plastic containers, and eliminating the use of plastic bags!!  Learning by example from a former staff person, I encourage conserving and recycling wherever I go!

Gordon: What Mass do you primarily attend?

Nancy: Being a member of the Assumption Church Choir, I typically attend Mass at 10:30 a.m. Mass on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month, as well as on all major Church Holy Days.

Gordon: When we first met, I remember asking you what the CMP designation on your business card meant. Would you share some information about this certification and the studies necessary for this certification?

Nancy: A “Certified Meeting Professional” (CMP) designation can be obtained through the Convention Industry Council. The CIC website outlines the steps to qualify for a CMP designation.  I passed my CMP exam in 2003 and will hold this certification through 2018. Recertification is necessary every 5 years. The CMP designation is internationally recognized in the meetings, special events, conventions, and trade show industry.

Gordon: You are also a member of the Chicago Area Chapter of Meeting Professionals International, Could you provide us with some insights into their activities?

Nancy: I have been a member of the Meeting Professionals International-Chicago-Area Chapter Association since 1994. Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is the meeting and event industry’s largest and most vibrant global community.  MPI-CAC offers annual Continuing Education Unit (CEU) seminars, education, and events that continually introduce professional members to the newest ideas and concepts in the events industry, offering the opportunity to become better acquainted with new relationships, marketplaces, and venues within the Chicago area

Gordon: When we met, you were representing Merchandise Mart Properties. What were your primary responsibilities at that time?

Nancy: My former positions at The Merchandise Mart were Office Manager, Director, Meeting Planning & Special Events; and Director, Corporate Relations, Community Outreach Department.  My primary responsibilities included providing event management services for corporate, tenant, and trade show events, as well as 3rd party private and social events for corporations, religious, government, civic, and charitable organizations.

Gordon: You recently became an Event Management Consultant. What are the primary services that you offer?

Nancy: I am utilizing my event, property, and office management experience to manage events, conferences, and fundraisers for clients, while I continue to remain actively involved with many Church and charitable efforts and fundraisers.

Gordon: You are currently involved in a major Servite event - The V National Conference of the Servite Secular Order. Could you tell us something about this important project?

Nancy: I am currently working on the Fifth National Conference for the Servite Secular Order: USA, to be held October 23-25, 2015, at the Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center, Sierra Madre (Pasadena), California.  The focus of this year’s conference is “Family: Cornerstone of Love”, which includes Keynote speakers and workshops given by members of the Servite Order, as well as noted Catholic speakers.  I welcome meeting and spending time with Secular Servites from the many communities across the United States.

Gordon: Thank you for a great interview and a valuable insight into the Servite Secular Order.


bottom of page