Notre Dame de Chicago Parish’s pastor, Msgr. Patrick Pollard, bids fond farewell
July 8, 2017

By Gabija Steponenaite

Monsignor Patrick Pollard concelebrates a Mass in June in his honor at Notre Dame de Chicago Church. He served as pastor for ten years, beginning in 2007. (Photo by Mark Valentino)

The busy daily agenda of Notre Dame de Chicago Parish’s pastor, Monsignor Patrick Pollard, who also has been serving as director of Catholic Cemeteries in the Archdiocese of Chicago, has been filled with many meetings and tasks for years.

“He has not arrived yet,” “He is traveling,” “He just left,” “He should be back soon,” his assistant, Mary Ann Milici, would respond with a tone of sympathy in her voice. After several weeks, Gazette Chicago finally caught up with Msgr. Pollard, who at 70 is retiring both as Notre Dame pastor and as head of Catholic Cemeteries.

Msgr. Pollard joined “The Parish with Heart in the Heart of the City” ten years ago. Born and raised in Chicago, he said he always preferred working in a vibrant city parish. Before moving to Notre Dame de Chicago, he served at Christ the King Church on Chicago’s South Side.

“I love Notre Dame de Chicago Parish,” Msgr. Pollard said. “It is composed of a very diverse, supportive, and friendly group of people.”

When asked to share his most memorable moments of his years spent at the parish, he paused for a brief moment and said, “It is very hard to name a few. I love baptisms, I love weddings, I love saying daily Mass.”

He also enjoys serving the community and believes every moment of life is unique, precious, and equally important. He tries to “stay present in the moment” and seeks to do his best in any given situation.

Renovation projects

Besides attending to his daily priestly duties at Notre Dame, Msgr. Pollard dedicated much of his time and energy to upgrading and beautifying the 130-year-oldchurch building and the Notre Dame complex.

Philosophically, before retiring he said he wanted to ensure future generations have a worship space where they always can return, reunite with current and former parishioners, meet new friends, and visit a place with deep roots in Chicago’s history.

“For the last few years we made a lot of improvements on the Church’s building,” he said.

Church Improvements

During his time as pastor, the church installed an elevator that provides access to the ground level and sanctuary and a new sound and electrical system, repaired the floor in the lower church hall, and renovated the restrooms to make them both modern and handicapped accessible. Workers also added ramps to the altar and put the elevator doors on the church building’s west side, adjacent to the parking lot near the handicapped parking spaces for ease of access.

A March 2015 fire in the rectory prompted the structure’s renovation and modernization. This spring Msgr. Pollard oversaw his last project at Notre Dame: installing a new air conditioning system. “We were losing a lot of parishioners during the hot summer days, and I wanted people to feel comfortable here,” he said. Adding radiant heat also has made the church more comfortable. Parishioner Joseph Bosco, who has been coming to Notre Dame de Chicago Church for more than 27 years, often helps his faith community with mechanical work. He sits on the parish’s building committee and volunteered to install the new air conditioning system.

“The system consists of two 15-ton compressors and two dualspeed air handlers,” Bosco said. “The compressors are located just to the east of the church. The two air blowers are located in the choir loft of the church. These two highspeed devices fill the nave of the church with the cool air.”

“I wanted to make the church a comfortable place for the people to pray and worship,” Msgr. Pollard said. Msgr. Pollard chose his vocation 45 years ago. When asked what inspired him to choose the priesthood, he laughed and said, “Oh it is a very long story—I felt a need to follow the Spirit’s calling. I wanted to share with the others the joy I feel every morning, when I wake up.”

After finishing his last tasks at Notre Dame de Chicago, he plans to take a long vacation, travel to California, and spend more time with his family.

In May, Msgr. Pollard received the Vision Award from the National Association of Church Personnel Administrators (NACPA). The award recognized exemplary vision on behalf of justice in the Catholic Church and support for the association.

Msgr. Pollard was NACPA president from 2012 to 2014. During his presidency, he oversaw an analysis of the association’s mission and sustainability and initiated a planning process that included transition to a new executive director and relocating the national office.

Regina Haney, NACPA executive director, called Msgr. Pollard an “articulate and committed leader.” As director of Catholic Cemeteries in the Archdiocese of Chicago, 45 cemeteries employing hundreds were under his jurisdiction.

He oversaw interment plans offered by the cemeteries, legal issues, the personnel who consulted with the families of the bereaved on interment-related issues, and other aspects of the cemeteries’ operation.

Notre Dame de Chicago Parish is located at 1334 W. Flournoy St. Call (312) 243-7400 or log on to http://nddc.archchicago.org/.