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Forty Years Ago

Fifty years serving God and man is a worthy accomplishment. More than reason enough for St. Bernardine Church, its parishioners and the Chicago Archdiocese to honor the Right Rev. Monsignor John Wegener. A highlight of the week’s celebration was a Jubilee Mass by then archbishop John Cody. Born in Chicago in 1892, Wegener was a product of Chicago parochial schools. After graduating from Quigley Seminary he attended North American College in Rome where he received doctorate degrees in philosophy and sacred theology.

Returning from Rome, he spent virtually the rest of his life in the Chicago area, serving as priest in three parishes and returning to teach Greek at his alma mater, Quigley. He came to St. Bernardine in 1938, supervised an expansion that included a new rectory, a convent and additional schoolrooms. If some people resemble stereotypes, Msgr. John Wegener looked like he came out of Hollywood casting by way of Barry Fitzgerald. There’s a plaque to his memory on the north front lawn of the church.

From the Mar. 25, 1967, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

A young woman and a young man. The YW had finished shopping at Zayer’s and was placing packages in the back seat of her car. The YM confronted her with a knife, demanded her keys and forced her into the back seat. Driving to a secluded area, he tried to rape her. She resisted, escaped and sought aid from a nearby motorist as the YM drove away in her car. During an arduous door-to-door search in which a composite picture of the suspect was shown, a name eventually surfaced. Things began to match and an interview with the YM was arranged. He soon admitted his offense and was remanded to juvenile authorities.

From the Mar. 16, 1977, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

Christmas and New Years are laden with tradition-and crime reports. Women seemed to be the preferred prey during the week of Dec. 21, 1986.

The man down the hall had borrowed a cup of flour from the lady. (The old cup-of-flour routine.) He came back with her cup-and his knife, forcing himself into her apartment. After he forced himself on her, she managed to stab him in the abdomen. He managed to wrest the knife back, rifle through her purse and took $20. “For stitches,” he wisecracked. The woman called police who collected blood stains and fingerprints. The man turned himself in the next day.

Ready for another? The woman had known the man for three months, yet they hadn’t dated. When they did, he took her to his apartment and raped her twice. The following morning he drove her home, where she slept for seven hours before calling the police. Just as in the previous script, he turned himself in when he learned police were making inquiries about him.

From the Dec. 31, 1986, Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

It’s either crimes against women or stories about priests. Father John Fearon, of St. Bernardine, was about in the line of succession following the death of Monsignor Wegener. Father John passed away Feb. 10, 1997, and with his death the town lost a caring, compassionate and laughing soul. He sometimes anointed himself the Big Honcho, “lording” it over his younger, affable assistant, Father Dario.

Born in The Auburn section of Chicago in 1926, he came to St. Bernardine Church in 1977 serving here for 18 years. It was his practice to spend about 30 minutes in prayer and meditation before offering daily mass. So, 10 years after his death, it’s good to remember a man of unending good cheer who brought the human touch to so many.

From the Dec. 31, 1986, and Feb. 12, 1997, Forest Park Review