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updated: 9/7/2017 11:03 AM

Lester: Cubs anthem singer performs 1-man play of hero priest Fr. Damien

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  • Wayne Messmer will perform "Damien" at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in West Dundee.

    Wayne Messmer will perform "Damien" at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church in West Dundee.
    Photo Courtesy St. Catherine of Siena

 
 

Chicago Cubs national anthem singer Wayne Messmer says his road to starring in a one-man show about a priest in Hawaii began with some lessons from Franciscan nuns when he was in the fourth grade at Five Holy Martyrs Catholic School in Chicago.

"These nuns, they were the ones who went to Hawaii to work with Father Damien," Messmer, of Glenview, tells me. "The mantra (at school) was 'be more like Father Damien.' So I studied and wrote a report about him, and as I grew up, I maintained an interest in the story and discovered there was a play."

After Messmer starred in an initial performance several years ago at the Raue Center for the Arts in Crystal Lake, Messmer has taken "Damien," by Aldyth Morris, on the road. He'll perform next at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church, 845 West Main St., West Dundee.

Leper colony

Father Damien, made St. Damien of Molokai by the Catholic Church, began working in a leper colony on Molokai's Kalaupapa Peninsula in Hawaii before contracting leprosy himself in 1865.

Messmer and his wife, Kathleen, have visited the Kalaupapa colony in order for Messmer to better hone in on the saint's persona. Messmer calls it "humbling to pretend" to be Damien.

Huntley High School Senior Jessica Diaz is battling cancer, and there are two community fundraisers Saturday in her honor.
Huntley High School Senior Jessica Diaz is battling cancer, and there are two community fundraisers Saturday in her honor. - Photo Courtesy Brenda Kardys
More help for Huntley teen

Remember the story of Jessica Diaz, a Huntley High School student who has cancer?

Jessica has entered her senior year with the goal of graduating on time and heading to college to become a civil engineer, she tells me.

As she undergoes chemo while remaining a full-time student, the community is rallying behind her once again. There are two different fundraisers going on Saturday. One is from 2 to 10 p.m. at the Martin Family Farm, 16601 Coral Road, Union. The other is Rock Out Cancer from noon to 11 p.m. at Parkside Pub and Grill, 11721 Main St., Huntley, complete with green wristbands that Jessica helped design.

"It means so much to have the community rally around you," Diaz says.

New additions at Wheaton College

Two additions are now finished at Wheaton College, President Phillip Ryken told alumni this week. A new welcome center stands between the Beamer Center and McCully Field. Meanwhile, the college's old science building has been gutted and completely reconstructed to become the new Armerding Center for Music and the Arts.

Governor's dress code

Hat tip to Democratic state Sen. Cristina Castro of Elgin for noticing a literal costume change on the Senate floor involving Gov. Bruce Rauner during the special session last week, where lawmakers approved education funding.

Rauner, a Winnetka Republican known for his casual dress, appeared on the Senate floor without a tie -- a violation of the chamber's dress code.

The sergeant at arms had the governor don a tie -- with the only extra one on hand bearing the Senate Democrats logo.

Rounding home

Lifelong Arlington Heights resident Fred Vogt is getting close to his dream of having attended a game at every major league ballpark in the country, but Hurricane Irma threw a wrench into his plans. Vogt, a 1972 graduate of Arlington Heights High School, has delayed his plans to visit Marlins Park in Florida until next spring.

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