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Our Lady of the Ridge Parish gives thanks

Photo by Joe Boyle

Music ministers who performed during the Prayer Service of Thanksgiving at Our Lady of Ridge Church Sunday night were (from left) sisters Stephanie and Jillian Seweryn, along with their mother, Laura.



 

The faculty, students, parents and community of Our Lady of the Ridge Elementary School in Chicago Ridge received the news they had been waiting for on Friday.

The school, 10859 S. Ridgeland Ave., will remain open in the fall.

The administration, staff and students celebrated when they were informed by the Chicago Archdiocese that they had met the criteria had been met to keep the school operating. The administration had been informed on Jan. 11 that the school could close unless they reached an enrollment of at least 114 and could raise over $250,000.

The school exceeded those expectations through a phone-a-thon, two open houses and parishioners spreading the word about the school. Fundraisers were held and local businesses provided support by donating portions of their profits to go to the school.

“We are ecstatic,” said Mary Grisolano, media relations volunteer and graduate of Our Lady of the Ridge.

Grisolano said that the school was able to raise $321,500 over the past month. Enrollment is now at 117 and Grisolano said that those numbers traditionally rise in the spring, especially now that the school will remain open.

The major catalyst event that provided the necessary support for Our Lady of the Ridge was the fundraiser held Feb.19 at 111 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park. A huge crowd was present all day and over 850 tickets were sold for various raffles. Nearly 880 people attended the event.

To celebrate the news Our Lady of the Ridge School will continue, a Prayer Service of Thanksgiving was held on Sunday night at the church.

The Rev. Wayne Svida, pastor of Our Lady of the Ridge, began the service by telling parishioners that this is a great time for the teachers, the parents and students.

“These past few days, have you leaped for joy? We, too, have leaped for joy for fulfilling our obligation to the Archdiocese of Chicago,” Svida said.

Our Lady of the Ridge School opened in 1954. Svida said he is pleased that the school will “continue to educate young men and women.”

Svida thanked everyone responsible for keeping Our Lady of the Ridge open, including the teachers, the staff and the parents.

“This is about family,” Svida said. “They say it takes a village to raise a child. We are a village. We are the village of Our Lady of the Ridge.”

Svida reminded parents, students and volunteers that they need to continue to support Our Lady of the Ridge in the future.

“We cannot stop what we are doing,” Svida said. “We can’t stop educating our children. We will continue on with Our Lady of the Ridge School.”

Sr. Stephanie Kondik, OSF, principal at Our Lady of the Ridge School, praised Svida’s leadership, calling him an “inspiration” during the past month.

At the conclusion of the prayer service, a celebration was held where a variety of food and a cake were served to students, teachers, parents, volunteers and community leaders.

Marianne Gillfillan, school board president at Our Lady of the Ridge, said she is confident that the school has the support it needs to remain open for many years to come.

“The support has been tremendous from alumni, media, local businesses, elected officials, current and even former school families. Everyone has mobilized together to save our gem of a school. It speaks to the uniquely strong community we have and its impact on people’s lives that this town is so dedicated to keeping the school open.

“Our Lady of the Ridge is here to stay.”

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