by F.J. Phillips, Planned Giving Committee

Just over 50 years ago my parents, John and Mary, were married at Holy Comforter. 10 years later I came along, and the church would always be part of my life.

My memories begin in Mrs. Klatte's room and carry on through confirmation and first communion. Every time I have to speak in public I think fondly of Nancy Ford-Murphy and her patience as she coached me to read the Sunday lessons.

After attending an out of state school in 8th grade, I was nervous about merging into New Trier. I instantly felt connected to the youth group and it quickly became a foundation for my high school experience. We were fortunate to have Fr. Parkin as our youth leader and committed volunteers like Barb Haljun, Dick Morley & Jane Coley. The summer after my freshman year was the first high school mission trip to West Virginia. I loved it and went all four years. I was able to gain a greater appreciation for the privileges in my life and the struggles others were facing, and to develop a strong bond with kids in a similar situation. It was both humbling and empowering.

While in college, my father struggled with occasional health issues, and Fr. Myers and many others were always there for support. As I approached graduation, I was once again lifted up by the generosity of so many. Through the ministry of The Bridge Committee I was lucky enough to receive the guidance of Jerry Nanna and Rick Voit and landed my first job, one that I still have 18 years later.

When my wife Carrie and I left the city and moved to Wilmette, we discussed what parish we should attend. We were part of a tremendous community at Church of Our Saviour in Lincoln Park, but knew that the distance would be too great for regular attendance. Of course Holy Comforter was an obvious choice. My biggest fear in that decision, however, was whether my young family would be able to make Holy Comforter our own. Wouldn't I always be known simply as John and Mary's son?

I have been blown away by how welcoming and enthusiastic everyone has been. The way Carrie has been embraced and encouraged to be so active in such a short period of time is greater than I could have hoped for. I watch as my boys are starting their journey here and eagerly wait to see them grow into strong, courageous and generous young men. I know Holy Comforter will have a hand in that.

These are the many reasons we have chosen to include the church not just in our annual giving, but also in our final plans. No longer am I greeted in the parlor or great hall as John and Mary's son. I am known now as Carrie's husband or Everett and George's father. I wouldn't have it any other way!