Father Mark Augustine (Archdiocese of Chicago '13), Served as Associate Pastor and Administrator at St. Mary's parish in Lake Forest, IL (now studying Canon Law at St. Paul's University in Ottawa, Ontario)
Submitted by: Bonnie Michelle Meehan
I work as a bookkeeper here at St. Mary’s Church in Lake Forest, and want to share something important with you. With all the sorrows we are facing, there are also great joys and huge efforts being made. I hope this one does not go unnoticed. I have seen the Holy Spirit at work through God’s loving hand here, ever so presently these past few months that I feel need to write because I want to tell you about it and about Father Mark Augustine.
When COVID-19 notifications first hit our Church, I think it was March 13, we were all sent home to work online for our safety. Father Mark Augustine had to keep things running here, without the assistance of a senior pastor, as Father Mike Nacius was out on sabbatical at the time. Being a young priest, we would expect fear and confusion. Father Augustine worked to keep our parishioners informed, to move our Masses online and was responsible for answering to the accumulation of concerns of our parishioners. He did this with such grace it was evident that his prayers for worthiness to his calling were being answered in a profound way.
At the same time as Church concerns were going on, Father Augustine worked with Dave Wieters, our school principal, to move our platforms immediately and enable our school children to continue classes online, almost seamlessly. This is another instance where God chose the right people to be present during this crisis.
Father Augustine contracted COVID-19 soon after the closing of parish offices. He was very ill and even then provided online Masses. He still maintained web meetings with us so that his work--God's work--would not slow down. Father Augustine showed his love for God and his community every day, tirelessly and without concern for his own wellness. I think this was more than just the promise of the surrendering of oneself to be God’s instrument. I believe that Father Augustine is living proof that God truly chose him to lead us through the most sorrowful moments of our lives, and he has a gladness in him to be whatever God needs him to be.
Father Augustine carried out the Archdiocese of Chicago guidelines as to how to reopen our Church, and helped establish trust and faith within our parish (to come back and to look into ourselves as we receive Masses online. We are the holy temples and we stand together stronger than we do alone). Father Augustine managed the daily operations through online staff meetings with all staff, making everyone aware of what was going on, asked for our concerns, and gave direction on how to approach our workloads. He took the pressure on himself while still being the servant of our community through God. He reached out to people who were afraid and in need every day.
I feel we all need to hear about our daily miracles in our churches in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Let’s lift up God’s work. Even though our priests would want the Glory to be to God, perhaps maybe God would allow our priests to be recognized for their accomplishments for a “job well done” as they are God’s faithful servants.
I joined the Catholic Church on August 2, and I can’t wait to find out what else God has in store for my service to Him with my new and deeper understandings!
Father Augustine modeled the deepest piety and faith I've known. I was a Christian of the Baptist faith and the more I came to RCIA classes led by Father Augustine, the more I realized I was deepening my own understandings. His words were so very clear. Our RCIA class learned the meaning of being Catholic through his gentle explanations and strength of knowledge.