The Roman Catholic parishes of St. Walter and St. Benedict churches, which merged this year, have a new name.
Officials with the Archdiocese of Chicago recently announced that the parish will be known as St. Mary Magdalene.
Monsignor Dennis Lyle, who was the pastor of St. Benedict and now leads the merged parish, said the new name was chosen by the archdiocese after about 100 names were originally suggested.
“I’m very happy with that,” Lyle said. “I think most people are content with it.”
St. Walter Church, located in Morgan Park at 11722 S. Oakley Ave., and St. Benedict Church, located in Blue Island at 2329 York St., merged on July 1, with St. Peter Claver Church, located in Robbins, also included.
Lyle said the archdiocese allowed all parishioners to have input on the new parish name. The first round of voting brought in about 100 names, and a committee then tabulated the top 11 choices.
Another round of voting took place, and the final five included All Saints; Church of the Apostles; St. Edith Stein, a 20th-century Jewish philosopher who converted to Catholicism and is also known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross; and Fr. Augustus Tolton; a former slave who went on to become the first black priest in the United States.
Tolton could not be selected because he is not yet a saint, Lyle said, and Archbishop Cardinal Blase Cupich and a presbyteral council decided on St. Mary Magdalene.
St. Walter and St. Benedict elementary schools unified beginning this school year, with both campuses in use.
The school’s new name, St. Walter-St. Benedict Elementary School, will remain the same.
Principal Emily Scanlon, who is in charge of both campuses, said the school year is off to a good start.
“We are very excited about the parish merger,” Hanlon said. “The school unification is going so well.”
Archdiocese officials announced in January that the schools would unify, with kindergarten through fourth grade using the St. Walter campus and fifth through eighth grade using St. Benedict; preschool is offered at both campuses.
Officials said that enrollment is approximately 270 students.
In March, archdiocese officials announced the parish merger, announcing that all Sunday Masses would be held at St. Benedict.
According to parish officials, St. Walter hosts Saturday Masses, and school Masses are held at St. Walter on Wednesdays and the St. Benedict campus on Fridays.
St. Peter Claver will no longer host Mass beginning in October.
The merger is part of the archdiocese’s Renew My Church plan.
According to Roman Catholic beliefs, Mary Magdalene was a close companion of Jesus and the first person to see him resurrected from the dead.
She ran to Jesus’ disciples after she found his tomb empty, and Lyle said he will stress the message that Magdalene shared the news of Jesus’ resurrection to his followers. He said such an approach is “what the church needs at this point in its history.”
All three parishes have scheduled events to thank parishioners for their commitment and support.
The St. Peter Claver Church Heritage Mass and Celebration was held on Sept. 12, and the Taste of St. Benedict Fest was Sept. 19.
The Heritage Mass and Reception for St. Walter Church will be Saturday, Sept. 25, from 5 to 7 p.m., with food provided by a variety of organizations.
For more information on St. Walter-St. Benedict School, visit stwstb.org.