by Gordon Nary
Gordon: Where did you attend school?
Susan: Sacred Heart Academy and Quinnipiac University.
Gordon: When did you join Assumption and why did your choose this parish?
Susan: 1992. I loved the church itself and that it was original Italian parish. Also, Fr. Paul Cullen was such a welcoming priest. When I began attending here in the early 1990’s there were only about twenty people at the 8:30 Sunday morning mass. I started sitting in the front pew because I felt bad for the priests because everyone always sat toward the back. That spot has been mine ever since and it's known to nearly anyone who attends what is now the 9:00 am mass. (LOL)
Gordon: What aspects of Assumption would you mention to friends who were considering joining a parish on the north side?
Susan: Our parish community is so welcoming to members and visitors. Our parishioners take time to get know each other and become involved in parish ministries. The Servites are a special order of priests. We have wonderful ministries and our events are such fun. Everyone should come to our homecoming picnic celebrating August 15th Feast of the Assumption. We've held it annually since 2007.
Gordon: Congrats are due you for coordinating the annual picnic which is held in front of the church with Illinois Street blocked off. While every year is a special treat, the 2015 picnic was especially memorable with John Eskola singing Cole Porter's Night and Day with the Jack Foy Orchestra.
When and why did you assume responsibility for the planning and coordination of the annual Assumption Italian Dinner which is their major fundraiser?
Susan: Fr. John Dowd was the pastor at the time, I think it was about 12 years ago when a couple of us got the idea to hold a silent auction as part if the dinner. Molly Calvetti-Scilabra was in charge of the meal at that time and that transitioned to Cathy Cahill. Now Cathy and I jointly chair the dinner.
Gordon: Can you provide an general estimate of the income generated from this event every year?
Susan: Fr Joe puts this in the annual budget report to parishioners. I believe it's between $30,000 and $40,000 annually in total for entire dinner/auction.
Gordon: What is the average income from the annual silent auction?
Susan: Approximately $15 - $18,000 annually.
Gordon: What type of items usually generate the highest bids?
Susan: Sports tickets, hotel stays, restaurant gift certificates and a live auction item..
Gordon: When do you start seeking donations for the silent auction?
Susan: All year actually but steadily from September 1 through first week of November.'
Gordon: You have also been a regular volunteer at The Chicago Help Initiative for many years. What initially attracted you to join this important service that provides meals to the needy and homeless?
Susan: My involvement has been since 2005; Board member since: March, 2008'.
I have always been an altruistic individual and CHI is an organization made up almost entirely of volunteers who feel the same. We are able to make a difference in the lives of people who live in our immediate area. People who we get to know by name, who trust us and count on us to be there for them. We have expanded our programs over the years to not only feed 200 people each Wednesday but try to find housing, jobs, medical assistance and educational programs. Over the years Assumption Church has become a sponsor for four meals per year and many parishioners have become actively involved as volunteers.
Gordon: You are also a great writer and contribute regularly to Assumption Spotlights. What do you enjoy most about this important communications resource for Assumption?
Susan: It is a unique method to connect our parishioners to each other and to church events and ministries. I not only write occasional articles but I've become the editor who puts it together on a monthly basis. It is a very interesting and enjoyable job. As Pastoral Council Chair the last two years, I am able to be an integral part of the Spotlight selections for each edition. Spotlights is the responsibility of the PPC although we encourage anyone to suggest an appropriate subject and write about them when approved by Council.
Gordon: You are also a member of the Assumption Parish Council. Could you give us a background on this aspect of your service?
Susan: I have been privileged to serve on the Parish Pastoral Council for a three year term ending June, 2016 and for 18 months prior to my term serving on the PPC Steering Committee writing our Mission Statement and By Laws. I consider it an honor to serve the Assumption Community.
Gordon: In closing, I want to add my congratulations for the 2012 the Chicago Archdioceses’ Christifideles Award to you for service to the life of the Church, and thank you for a great interview. If you don't mind my penchant for puns, you have set the "Gold standard" for parish volunteerism.