Here’s how it all got started.

 February 22, 2011 - Strategic Thinking Meeting occurred at Old St. Patrick’s Church:  Approved proposal for a social concerns consultation meeting on March 30, 2011. An invitation list of members, staff, and subject area experts was generated.

Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J. poses with young members of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, CA.

Fr. Gregory Boyle, S.J. poses with young members of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, CA.

March 22, 2011 - Greg Boyle, S.J., founder and director of Homeboy Industries preached at Old St. Patrick’s for the 2011 Lenten Speaker Series “Life Without Borders:  Reflections on the Practice of Compassion, Forgiveness, Justice, and Communion.” His presentation was titled: Compassion Without Borders. His reflections significantly shaped the framework for what eventually became The Kinship Initiative and what we envisioned to commence a strong and lasting relationship with people in Chicago's North Lawndale neighborhood.

Fr. Boyle said, "We begin with service, service is good but you don't want to stop there. Service is the hallway that leads to the ballroom, but the ballroom is kinship. The measure of our compassion is not in our service of those on the margins but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them. One of the great privileges of my life was knowing Cesar Chavez. I remember once he was being interviewed by reporters and they said, "Wow, these farm workers really love you". He smiled and he shrugged and he said, "It's mutual, it's mutual".

March 30, 2011 - Old St. Patrick’s hosted a conversation to assess its Social Concerns Mission facilitated by Bob Kolatorowicz. Participants included: Ms. Nancy Hughes, Mr. Graham Grady, Mr. Barry Pollard, Mr. Frank Bergh, Ms. Audrey George, Mr. Arnette Heintze, Ms. Elena Segura, Fr. Mike Ivers, Mr. Roger Hughes, Fr. Tom Hurley, Ms. Kate Rhodes, Dr. Terry Nelson-Johnson and Ms. Krista Kutz.

The focus question for this consultation was: As a church with 3000 member households, situated on the edge of both the Loop and the West Side; how can Old St. Pat’s best engage in the work of service and social justice? The consulting group concluded that Old St. Pat’s should:

  1. Continue providing volunteer service opportunities through Outreach,

  2. Develop new strategies to advocate for social justice, and

  3. Draw inspiration from the experience and successes of The Harlem Children’s Zone.  Old St. Pat’s should strive  to improve life in the city through relationship building, direct service, and social justice advocacy by focusing our efforts within a particular neighborhood.

April 2011 - Heeding the recommendations of the Social Concerns Mission consultation, Bob Kolatorowicz proposed that we explore the possibilities of a new North Lawndale Initiative (a neighborhood only 17 blocks in distance, but culturally a world away from Old St. Pat’s) . The group begin to articulate the values and guiding principles for the new initiative. In short, what emerged was:

  • The new initiative will not be another service project.

  • This initiative is about doing “with” others, not doing “for” others.

  • Fr. Tom Hurley suggested integrating Fr. Greg Boyle’s use of the word “kinship” into the initiative.

  • Relationship building, recognition of connections, expanding understandings of kinship with each other, a genuine sense of mutuality, sharing ideas and resources are all to be the hallmarks of the initiative.

  • This will be a long term commitment.

  • There needs to be a balance of the desire for immediate actions/results with the patience and time necessary to grow trust, credibility and relationships.

  • This is about how we, at Old St. Pat's, want to “be Church in the world”.

  • A new and ambitious initiative, a new vision of church, will draw from the gifts of the next generation of leaders at Old St. Patrick’s and invite new leaders to develop and flex their leadership and creativity “muscle” in service of the common good.

May 6, 2011 - In a meeting with Bob Kolatorowicz, Mr. John Horan, President of North Lawndale College Prep (NLCP), expressed his hope for creating a residence serving high school students who are experiencing homelessness. Mr. Horan also invited people from Old St. Pat’s to serve as mentors for NLCP students working on their Senior Projects. Volunteers were needed at the start of the new school year.

June, 2011 - An Old St. Patrick’s Staff North Lawndale Committee was formed. Members included:  Ms. Krista Kutz, Ms. Keara Coughlin, Ms. Beth Marek, Ms. Eileen O’Shea, Mr. Bob Kolatorowicz, Dr. Terry Nelson-Johnson, Mr. Roger Hughes, and Fr. Tom Hurley.

July 19, 2011 - Dr. Terry Nelson-Johnson and Bob Kolatorowicz met with Ms. Pat Ford, Executive Director of the  Steans Family Foundation to explore avenues of engagement in North Lawndale. Mr. Roger Hughes, Bob Kolatorowicz and Dr. Terry Nelson-Johnson also met with Mr. Bruce Miller, CEO of the Lawndale Christian Health Center, also exploring avenues of engagement in North Lawndale.

October 17, 2011 - Upon the strong recommendation of Dr. Terry Nelson-Johnson, Mr. Ed Gemerchak was hired to a part-time position and began his role as Director of the North Lawndale Initiative.

Sunday, November 6, 2011 - Following the 5 p.m. Mass, 275 Old St. Patrick’s members and friends attended a North Lawndale Initiative Town Hall Meeting facilitated by Mr. Ed Gemerchak and Bob Kolatorowicz in the church hall. Mr. John Horan spoke to the needs of the North Lawndale Community as seen from his perspective as President of North Lawndale College Prep. 96 people volunteered to serve as mentors for high school seniors working on their Senior Project at North Lawndale College Prep. Representatives from Mercy Home for Boys and Girls described their Friends First program. 35 people volunteered to participate in this mentoring program working with young people from the North Lawndale community. 103 people indicated their interest in attending a followup meeting.

November 21, 2011 - Old St. Patrick’s volunteers began their work as Senior Project Mentors at North Lawndale College Prep.

November 29, 2011 - A meeting was held with Fr. Larry Dowling, Pastor of St. Agatha’s Parish in North Lawndale. St. Agatha’s and North Lawndale College Prep agreed to serve as the primary points of contact between Old St. Pat's and the North Lawndale Community.

December 4, 2011 - Second North Lawndale Initiative Town Hall Meeting facilitated by Mr. Ed Gemerchak generated suggestions for engaging with North Lawndale and surfaced a group of volunteers ready to take on leadership roles in shaping the Initiative. The volunteer leaders were:  Ms. Beth Dybala, Mr. James Ratner, Mr. Tom Murray, Mr. Chris Eagan, Mr. Frank Bergh, Ms. Peg Roth, Mr. George Spindler, Ms. Patricia Folland, Ms. Bernie Ryan, Mr. Vince Guider, Mr. William Weimholt, Mr. Mike Schubert, Ms. Keara Ette, Dr. Terry Nelson-Johnson, Ms. Mary Beth Coleman, Ms. Eileen O’Shea, Mr. Bob Kolatorowicz, Ms. Beth Marek and Ms. Carol Casey.

January 5, 2012 - The first meeting of the North Lawndale Kinship Initiative Leadership Team (working title) occurred. The meeting was chaired by Mr. Ed Gemerchak. The group continued to meet twice a month. Initial work centered on structuring the Initiative and strengthening relations with North Lawndale College Prep and St. Agatha’s Church.

June 11, 2012 - Leadership of the Kinship Initiative transitioned to Mr. Vince Guider.

September, 2012 - Rather than creating a mission statement, work began to create a “Kinship Creed” that would articulate the beliefs and values of The Kinship Initiative and give it purpose and direction.

January 13, 2013 - The First Annual Kinship Gathering was held at the Old St. Pat's Rectory Dining Room. The reception attracted key leaders from 8 potentially new Kinship Partner Organizations and also members of Old St. Pat's.  It was the first physical gathering of a large number of people from both communities and a sign of "what could be" as the partnership would evolve over time.

April 6, 2013 - The Leadership Team met for a Visioning Retreat to develop a strategic plan for the Kinship Initiative.

Spring & Summer, 2013 - Sparked by the announcement of the Cook County Land Bank Project and the launch of the Old St. Patrick’s Church The Journey Forward Capital Campaign, Bob Kolatorowicz re-engaged Mr. John Horan around Mr. Horan’s vision for creating a residence serving high school students who experience homelessness. In a meeting with Mr. Roger Hughes, Bob Kolatorowicz proposed that The Journey Forward Campaign include setting aside funds to help create a supportive housing facility in North Lawndale for high school students experiencing homelessness.

October 22, 2013 - An initial meeting explored the feasibility of creating a supportive housing facility for Lawndale students experiencing homelessness.

January 2014 - A  two-tier governance structure was implemented for the Initiative. The Heart Steering Committee was to focus on vision and strategy. The Kinship Advisory Board was to offer direction and opportunities for engagement of Old St. Patrick’s members and friends within the North Lawndale community.

2016 Annual Hip Hop Revival, a street fair at North Lawndale's Firehouse Community Arts Center

2016 Annual Hip Hop Revival, a street fair at North Lawndale's Firehouse Community Arts Center

February 2014 - The Second Annual Kinship Partner Gathering occurred at the Firehouse Community Arts Center hosted By Pastor Phil Jackson.  The event drew a wide collection of Kinship partners and featured music, food, tours of the facility and presentations.  The event marked a one-year milestone of the inter-community partnership.  

March 2014 and beyond - The Kinship Initiative continued to grow and evolve thanks to the Holy Spirit ad the commitment and engagement of many people in the North Lawndale neighborhood and Old St. Pat's Church.


2015 to the Present:

  • Old St. Pat's members serve as mentors, greeters and advisers with North Lawndale College Prep students and other youth and adults.

  • Old St. Pat's members offer pro bono consultation to North Lawndale organizations involving finance, marketing, facilities management, legal assistance, counseling, health, housing, organizational planning and more.

  • Meals are served by nearly 100 volunteers at My Brother's Kitchen (a soup kitchen outreach of YMEN Chicago) and Hope House (a men's recovery facility sponsored by Lawndale Christian Community Church).

  • Small and large group interracial conversations take place on racism, leadership, faith, community development and other vital social issues

  • Members of North Lawndale and Old St. Pat's work together on subcommittees of the North Lawnadle Community Coordinating Council.

  • Phoenix Hall houses students from North Lawndale College Prep H.S. who face housing instability.

  • People join together in shared worship and community service to gardens, youth centers, streetscapes, schools and other gathering places.


  1. North Lawndale Works has launched. This is an Old St. Pat's campaign galvanizing congregation members to network and provide sustainable, entry level jobs to graduates of Cara Chicago and the North Lawndale Employment Network. The opportunities are specifically for people facing significant barriers to employment such as prior court involvement, limited education, past struggles with substances, etc.

  2. The North Lawndale Athletic and Recreation Association is in formation to provide excellent, safe and enjoyable recreational opportunities to North Lawndale's young people ages 6 to 18.

In short, consultants, laborers, committee members, donors, advocates, activists and well wishers, both male and female, young and old, from North Lawndale, Old St. Pat's and beyond cross neighborhood, economic, religious , age and political boundaries to share their time, talent treasures and prayers in the name of kinship. We are working hard to bring about our mutual transformation.


Fr. Greg Boyle. SSJ gathers with members of Old St. Patrick's Church and North Lawndale residents at the  Old St. Patrick’s Church Crossroads Lecture Series  in of April of 2018 where he spoke on "Compassion."

Fr. Greg Boyle. SSJ gathers with members of Old St. Patrick's Church and North Lawndale residents at the Old St. Patrick’s Church Crossroads Lecture Series in of April of 2018 where he spoke on "Compassion."

. . . and the love story continues.