Elmhurst University

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Elmhurst University, Chaplain Rev. H. Scott Matheney asked Kevin O’Donnell and Joan Vilim to compile testimonials about the Catholic community on campus over the recent past.  We began to reflect on EU’s Catholic identity.

First, why did Chaplain Matheney ask us?

Kevin served as the Catholic co-chaplain on campus for 13 years as an official representative of the Diocese of Joliet, beginning in 2002. During that time he taught courses in the Theology Department, now the Department of Religious Studies, as an adjunct; established an online newsletter, Catholic Stuff; met and prayed with students; arranged Masses that EU students could attend; and comprehensively addressed the needs of the Catholic students on campus.

Joan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Business and Economics at the University and has been at Elmhurst full-time for 25 years. She has been a big supporter of Catholic students on campus. Kevin and Joan taught a January Term course in Rome three times: 2008, 2010, and 2012. The course was titled “Christian Rome Through the Centuries: A Religious and Economic History.” Students from any major could enroll. We spent three weeks, mainly in Rome, trying to understand the links between faith and other aspects of our lives over the last 2,000 years.

The course helped a lot of students learn about the early Christian church before there were differences between Catholic and other faiths. It was enlightening for students to reflect on how similar Christians are—whether Catholic or Lutheran or UCC.

EU is a place where Christian and non-Christian students see beyond the practice of their particular religion to try to effect positive change. Generally, students have an open mind and welcome each other regardless of faith.

Kevin and Joan solicited the input of former students, faculty, and a priest who often celebrated Mass on campus.  One of our long-serving Trustees and esteemed alumnus, Judge William Bauer, also shares his memories of his Catholic life on campus. Their collective contributions are linked here. Please view them to see the vibrance of Catholic life on the Elmhurst University Campus.

Testimonials from the Campus Community

The Roman Catholic Story at Elmhurst University

Larry Carroll, longtime professor of business at Elmhurst, recalls the burgeoning Catholic life on campus.

Hopes for Continued Worship on Campus

Karen Vicary, who worked in the University’s Office of the Chaplain, shares her testimonial.

'This is a Garden in the Middle of a Little City'

Father Tony Taschetta, the former pastor of Mary Queen of Heaven Catholic Church in Elmhurst, reflects on the partnership between the University and the community.

‘There is a Community for You’

Elmhurst alumnus Aaron Blanzy shares his gratitude for the friends and community he discovered as a Bluejay.

Without the Catholic community within Elmhurst University, I do not know if I would have gotten confirmed. That is how much the community changed my life. Before Elmhurst, due to my disability, Christians who were strangers prayed over me, and it always felt patronizing. At Elmhurst, they treated me as an equal and not someone to pity, which really opened the doors to me being a person of faith.

Hannah Thompson Elmhurst University Alumna

Learn More About the Chaplaincy