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Sunday, 26 September 2010 10:51

Illiopolis welcomes new parish life coordinator

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ILLIOPOLIS — Resurrection Parish will hold a “welcome” potluck Sunday, Oct. 3 at 11:30 a.m. for its new parish life coordinator Sister Phyllis Schenk, OP, and Sister Josetta Brown, OP, who also lives in the parish house.

Sister Phyllis officially began her parish duties on July 13. Sister Josetta lives in Illiopolis but works in Springfield. “Dominicans try to live in community and this is one way we could do that,” said Sister Phyllis, who succeeded Sister Lois Kikkert, OP, who had served the parish for many years.

A native of Libertyville, Sister Phyllis made her first vows as a Springfield Dominican in 1968. She has a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in religious studies. She was a teacher for many years and then acted as a pastoral assistant and director of religious education.

In 1986 Sister Phyllis became the first religious sister to administer a parish without a resident pastor. That parish was St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Sainte Marie, which eventually adopted a parish in Quartier Morin, Haiti.

Since the mid-1980s, Sister Phyllis has served in Tuscola, in the inner city of Toledo, Ohio, and has traveled extensively. Over the years, she has given retreats in many places. She traveled to Israel, Egypt, Turkey and Greece. She has also led retreats for religious sisters in Cameroon, West Africa and has traveled to Peru. She says her favorite trip was when she was able to climb Mount Sinai — after riding a camel to the location.

Life in the village of Illiopolis is quiet, but Sister Phyllis says she feels right at home. “The people of Resurrection Parish have been very welcoming,” she said. “I know change is hard, but they have been lovely.”

“We are most fortunate to have Sister Phyllis as our new parish life coordinator. Behind the quiet façade is quite a lady,” said Resurrection parishioner Kathey Reed, who is also a member of the parish council. “We welcome Sister Phyllis and Sister Josetta with open arms and feel most blessed and privileged to have them here. We had our first chicken dinner here last Sunday since Sister Phyllis has been here and she was having such a good time. It was nice to see.”

People who attend the potluck should bring a dish to share. Those with questions should call Kathey Reed at (217) 364-5542.