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January 18, 2009

‘Chicago, Chicago’ he’ll ‘show you around’

By Dolores Madlener



Father Thomas Dore adjusts some of the figures in a creche he displays during Christmas at St. Giles Parish in Oak Park. Catholic New World/Darrell Harmon

He is: Father Thomas Dore, pastor of St. Giles Parish, Oak Park. Ordained at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in 1961.

Growing up: “I was never an athlete. It was not my thing. I collected coins in those days. I was good at math in school. As neighborhood kids in Our Lady of Victory Parish we lived right behind Sears and played pick up games in its parking lot at Six Corners (Irving, Cicero and Milwaukee).”

First jobs: In 1948 the family moved into the original farm house in their Northwest Side neighborhood. “It needed work so I spent that first summer while in Quigley helping put siding on the house, landscaping and such. We lived there until 1982. Next couple of summers I worked for the Chicago Park District, for All- State Insurance and the Forest Preserve.”

Family: His dad worked for Peoples Gas for 20 years and then for Sears for 20 years, retiring as a division manager. At that point he and his wife, the former Irma Mae McCahill, started working for the archdiocese.

How it happened: “[Father] Ted Stone, in our parish of St. Tarcissus at the time, was involved with the liturgical commission in the archdiocese after Vatican II. He asked my folks to give him a hand delivering a trifold hymn card to parishes in their red station wagon.” Other liturgical materials began being delivered to their house and eventually “my folks had four or five people working for them in a mailing and distribution center in our basement. From that came the Liturgy Training Program, [later named Liturgy Training Publications.] It’s a story that has never been told.”

Where were you? I was ordained in 1961. I was at St. Priscilla, St. Hubert, St. Justin and St. Cyprian while that operation continued in our home for 15 years, 1964 to 1979. My father died in 1971. My mother took over as director and ran it until she retired in 1979.”

What fostered a vocation? “My parents were active at Our Lady of Victory in various clubs. At St. Tars they were presidents of their societies, worked the Bingo, carnivals. Some of the priests I knew there and at Quigley were very inspirational and helpful as well.”

Connecting with youngsters: He was the DJ at St. Priscilla’s Hi Club and directed the youth ministry division of the archdiocesan religious education office for eight years, 1974-82.

Seeing Chicago: “I started ‘Chicago on Foot’ 26 years ago at Our Lady of Ransom Parish. Some of the kids had never gone downtown. We started by taking the ‘L,’ stopping at the cathedral, Quigley, the Hancock Building. We lunched at Debevic’s, or Michael Jordan’s. Now we wind up at Millennium Park and they play in the fountain. We walk everywhere. We take about 60 kids — parochial school and religious ed — and six faculty chaperones. With my retirement coming up in June, it’s the last time we’ll be doing it.”

Current books and hobby: “I’m reading parts of four books: ‘The Intimate Merton;’ ‘A Spiritual Autobiography of Charles de Foucauld,’ John Grisham’s ‘The Appeal’ and ‘The Last Lecture’ by Randy Pausch. I also have an interest in the presidents. So I’ve been reading ‘Harry and Ike’ and ‘No Ordinary Time,’ about FDR and Eleanor.” To date he has visited eight presidential libraries.

Prayer life? “I make an eightday silent Ignatian retreat every year. I’ve been to Bellarmine, Mundelein, to Oshkosh, Wis.; Colorado; and Gloucester, Mass. I made a 30-day retreat in Gloucester in 1989. I try to spend some time every day in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament early in the morning. I took a cue from Cardinal Bernardin to give the first hour of the day to the Lord, which I try to do.”

Typical day off: “I meet with priest friends for lunch or sometimes lay friends for lunch or dinner. Sometimes I do some work, reading or go to the movies. It’s a very quiet day. Every six weeks I meet with a six-member priests’ prayer group.”

Favorite Scripture verse: “John 8:23: ‘If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ That’s one of my favorites.”