Prospect Hts. pastor's legacy was welcoming PADS

By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 11/16/2013 4:40 PM
  • Rev. Richard Maginot

    Rev. Richard Maginot

The former pastor of St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church in Prospect Heights, who led the parish during its biggest growth years and its outreach into social justice, has died.

The Rev. Richard Maginot passed away on Friday at St. Benedict Home in Niles. He was 89.

Colleagues in the Chicago Archdiocese, where he was a priest for 63 years, remember him as a "quiet, gentle and faithful" priest.

But it was his fateful decision to open St. Alphonsus as an emergency shelter -- as part of the Northwest suburban PADS program -- in 1991, that will be his legacy, says the Rev. Robert Heinz, who succeeded Maginot as St. Alphonsus pastor.

"He initially was opposed to it," says Heinz, now pastor of St. Norbert Church in Northbrook, "but I'm told that at a second meeting, he read from Scripture about feeding the poor and clothing the naked, and told them (parishioners), 'This is why we have to do it.'"

For more than 20 years, St. Alphonsus Church has served as one of 17 emergency shelter sites serving the homeless in the Northwest suburbs.

The parish serves nearly 1,400 families in Prospect Heights, Wheeling, Mount Prospect and Arlington Heights, but its draw as an emergency shelter site casts farther.

Last year alone, the Saturday night site drew 824 visits and volunteers served up more than 2,400 meals. The parish's PADS site, run by volunteers, came after its parishioners established a food pantry as part of its outreach ministries.

Maginot led St. Alphonsus as its pastor from 1978-1994. It was his first pastorate, after serving as an assistant St. Mary Parish in Des Plaines, St. Frances of Rome Parish in Cicero, Our Lady of Loretto Parish in Hometown, Our Lady of Humility in Beach Park, and St. Philip the Apostle in Northfield.

The Rev. Curtis Lambert, current pastor of St. Alphonsus, says Maginot helped to bring the parish together when he championed converting its multipurpose room into a full-fledged church space.

According to Lambert, the school was built first and parishioners worshipped in its gym, always planning to build a separate church. When that didn't happen, Maginot set out to convert the hall into a sacred space, by adding stained glass windows and other religious imagery.

"It gave people a sense of permanence," Lambert said.

Six years after Maginot retired, parishioners banded together to build a new church, with a series of additional gathering spaces, including the Fr. Richard Maginot Meeting Rooms.

Visitation for Maginot will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. on Monday, before an 11 a.m. funeral Mass, both at St. Alphonsus Liguori Church, 411 N. Wheeling Road in Prospect Heights. Retired Bishop Raymond Goedert will be the main celebrant.

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