St. Eulalia Parish was established by the Archdiocese of Chicago in Maywood, a western suburb of Chicago, in 1927. The parish history can be chronicled briefly in several phases.
In the 1920’s, Maywood was a traditional, majority-white suburban community. Responding to parish families’ desire for Catholic primary education. St. Eulalia opened a parochial school, which began with 274 students. An index of the parish and school’s success in imparting Catholic values is the loyalty shown by many graduates to the parish, either by maintaining parish membership after moving away, or returning for elementary school reunions.
1967 marked a new phase in parish history with the appointment of Monsignor William Quinn as pastor. While the social upheavals of the 1960’s gripped the nation and Chicago, Maywood itself was undergoing profound racial change, from majority white to a majority black community. Msgr. Quinn established a reputation for leadership in building an integrated, diverse parish, while also addressing social justice concerns at both local and national levels. For example, Quinn hosted Cesar Chavez at the parish for organizing meetings. In the 1970’s, Fr. John Boyle and Sr. Shirley Fineran OSF founded St. Eulalia Community Helping Others (ECHO), a parish program that provided services to parishioners and the neighboring community, including a soup kitchen, food pantry, and second hand store. Later, Sister Ettienne expanded upon the food pantry making it what is today. Msgr. Quinn’s leadership on social justice issues was continued with the appointment of Fr. James Quinlan as pastor in 1986. While continuing the Quinn legacy, Fr. Quinlan used his marketing background for fundraising, beginning a long campaign of rejuvenation for the aging buildings.
The year 2000 marked a transition phase for the parish with the closing of the elementary school. With the decline in Catholic population in Maywood, the Archdiocese considered closing the parish, but ultimately decided to keep St. Eulalia as the only Catholic Church in Maywood. In 2004, new pastor Fr. Frank Latzko worked with West Suburban PADS to address homelessness by establishing a PADS headquarters and west suburban support center in the former convent. Parishioners volunteer one night a month providing overnight shelter.
In 2011, new pastor Fr. Carmelo Mendez converted the unused school building to a multi-purpose community center, named for Msgr. Quinn. The Quinn Community Center began operation under the direction of Gabriel Lara, working part-time; the director position became full time only in 2012. Prior to coming to St. Eulalia, Mr. Lara worked extensively in organizations guided by a philosophy of participatory learning such as Universidad Popular in the southwest side of Chicago, and Casa Hospitalidad in San Antonio, Texas.
In September 2013, a Quinn Center Advisory Board was formed to assist the director. Current membership is 20, including three non-parishioners. The board has established 7 standing committees working on such issues as hunger and nutrition, youth and family programs, community health, immigration, and computer technology.
Since September, 2011, the Quinn Center has become the organizing umbrella for parish social concerns (soup kitchen, food pantry, Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets, tutoring and youth mentoring programs, a senior organization, development of a computer lab and training programs, English and Spanish language classes). In 2012, St. Eulalia was a finalist for the 2012 Halo Award from the organization Partners for Sacred Places recognizing St. Eulalia’s meaningful use of space for community transformation.
In July, 2013, St. Eulalia marked a new leadership transition, as the Blessed Sacrament Fathers were assigned to the parish. Fr. Mike Arkins, current pastor of St. Eulalia, brings more than 39 years of experience as pastor of large and small congregations. Fr. Rudsend Paragas, associate pastor, is a young dynamic and bi-lingual priest from the Philippines.