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Our Rector

Fr. John Heschlē has been a priest of the Diocese of Chicago since 1978. He graduated from Hope College, Holland, Michigan in 1975 and earned his Master of Divinity from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL in 1978. He was ordained a deacon in 1978 and a priest in 1979. He served as Vicar and Rector of the Church of St. Anne, Morrison, IL from 1978 to 1993. He has been the Rector of St. Paul’s Church by-the-Lake in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago for over twenty years. He is an associate alumni of Nashotah House Theological Seminary.

Fr. Heschlē has served on several Diocesan and Deanery committees during his ordained ministry and is active in the Rogers Park Clergy Association, serving as treasurer. He also serves as the secretary & treasurer of the Chicago Chapter of the Catholic Clerical Union. He is also the Vice-Superior General of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament.

As a parish priest Father Heschlē has focused on the growth and health of the local parish church and its vitality in the neighborhood. The parish has been the home and base for the meetings of the Lost Boys of the Sudan. The parish is also active in animal ministries with a regular service for the Blessing of Pets and the Thanksgiving & Remembrance of Pets and Animals. A parish program called AniMeals provides food and sundries for low-income and elderly neighbors with pets. In 2002 the service for the Blessing of Animals was featured on Wild Chicago, a local public television program.

In Father’s time as rector, the parish has grown by about 75% and is now one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse parishes in the Diocese of Chicago. It has parishioners from South America, Asia, Africa, India, England, as well North American origins. Fr. Heschlē believes in neighborhood churches and the role they play in building community. In the Computer Learning Center, refugees learn English and improve their computer skills. The space for this project was rehabbed by the Rogers Park Builders Group in consultation with Fr. Heschlē and a committee from the parish. Teachers are both parishioners of St. Paul’s by-the-Lake and volunteers from the neighborhood. Since 2008, the parish has actively incorporated and assimilated Burmese and Asian refugees into its life.

In 2009, the parish expanded the parking lot and now allows some neighborhood use of the space. In 2012, the parish renovated the entrance to the Church with an accessibility ramp. In 2013 the interior renovation made the bathrooms accessible from the Nave.

While many churches are known for one particular program such as music, youth ministry, or education, under Fr. Heschlē’s vision St. Paul’s is becoming a truly neighborhood-friendly parish whose presence is well known in the larger community.