June 17, 2020
Dear Friends,

As I mentioned before, Ascension will be welcoming two shepherds to lead you as I depart on July 1. I really feel confident in this set up and hopeful for Ascension. This email serves as a short introduction for Fr. Carl and Fr. Rex, and a brief explanation shared by the Vicar General explaining their roles at Ascension.

Transitioning during a pandemic is not easy. I do wish it could be under different circumstances. But I am confident that Fr. Carl and Fr. Rex will be looking for your leadership and guidance as they work to best serve and lead the Ascension community.

Fr. Hurlbert
Hello, Neighbor!

I am Father Carl Morello, presently Pastor of Saint Giles Parish. I have been serving at Saint Giles for the past ten years, but actually have been a neighbor to Ascension for much longer. I was born in River Forest, baptized at Saint Luke Parish, and eventually moved with my family to Forest Park. I completed grammar school at Saint Bernardine School and attended mass in the parish church, where I was an altar server and cantor. In 1983 I was ordained at Mundelein and celebrated my first mass at St. Bernardine.

Over the years I have served in only three parishes. Saint Priscilla Parish on the Northwest side of Chicago for 6 years, Saint Paul of the Cross Parish in Park Ridge; first as Associate Pastor and then 12 years as Pastor, and presently here at St. Giles. As you can see, there has been much stability in my assignments. I share this simply to say that knowing this area, its people, and their love for their church and community, is a privilege. I hope this will help serve the future vision planning and needs of our communities as we work together in the near future with the Renew My Church process.

I have come to know Father Hurlbert as a friend and colleague, and respect his great love for God and ministry in the communities he has served. I also have known Father Rex and his reputation for leadership and pastoral care. I really look forward to working with him as we build a strong future for Catholic life here in Oak Park.

May God bless you and all of God’s people!
Fr. Carl Morello
Dear Ascension Parish Family,

This is Father Rex Pillai. I hope and pray that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during these challenging times. As you may be aware, Cardinal Blase Cupich has invited me to help lead Ascension Parish as Saint Giles and other Catholic parishes in Oak Park prepare to go through Renew My Church.

I am delighted to be a part of your vibrant parish that has always been a witness to God's love, mercy and compassion in carrying out the mission of Christ. As I come to Ascension Parish, I look forward to getting to know you and listening to your hopes and aspirations for your faith community and learning its challenges and how we can work together to accomplish them and overcome them.

I joined the Archdiocese of Chicago in 2009, having been a Redemptorist priest for many years. My first assignment as a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago was as an associate pastor at Saint Benedict Parish on the Northside of Chicago. Having completed my term there, I joined the staff at Saint Clement Parish in Lincoln Park in 2013 where I have been for seven years as the associate pastor and the administrator. As I prepare to transition to Ascension Parish, I wish to thank your pastor, Father James Hurlbert, who has been very helpful and generous in sharing information about the parish and answering my questions.

Thank you and I look forward to meeting you in person as soon as we are able to do so.

Fr. Rex Pillai
Dear Ascension Community,

We understand that receiving two priests - one as an Administrator and the other as an Associate Pastor - is a new arrangement for Ascension parish. We share this information from the Vicar General to help explain.

Clarification of Roles for Fathers Carl Morello and Rex Pillai at Ascension Parish

Effective July 1, 2020, Fr. Carl Morello has been appointed Administrator of Ascension Parish, while retaining his duties as Pastor of St. Giles Parish. Fr. Rex Pillai has been appointed to Ascension Parish as Associate Pastor to be in a leadership role in collaboration with Fr. Carl. These appointments have been made with an eye to best serving the Oak Park grouping of parishes in preparation for the Renew My Church (RMC) process.

To be clear, there is no decided future configuration of what the parishes will look like in the Oak Park grouping. The early years of RMC have highlighted the need for strong and collaborative leadership during the process.

This unique leadership model in these appointments have been made with the focus on positioning both communities and priests for success in these very uncertain times. After much discussion with Cardinal Cupich, Bishop Manz (Vicar for Vicariate IV) and his team, the RMC leadership, Fr. Carl and Fr. Hurlbert, it was decided that rather than appointing a priest new to the Ascension community to become Pastor Administrator, the model described above was deemed the best path forward now and throughout the formal RMC discernment process.

The Archdiocese sees Fr. Carl’s role as supporting each of the parish communities to ascertain its vision throughout the RMC process. Also, his role will be to help this local vision of each parish to find support from the diocesan leadership. As Associate Pastor, Fr. Rex will lead the day-to-day life and Sacramental life of Ascension Parish. He will also work with Fr. Carl and each parish in the RMC process. Fr. Rex is an experienced priest known for his pastoral care, having served during the past seven years both as Associate Pastor and then Administrator of St. Clement Parish in Chicago. This model, for now, shows a profound commitment to best serve the communities for their future visions and realities.

We believe this is an opportunity, rarely given, to build leadership teams within the framework of Renew My Church. It is a sign of confidence in both parish staffs, and in both communities. Come, Holy Spirit, and guide us.

Fr. Carl and Fr. Rex

808 S. East Avenue, Oak Park, IL 60304
(708) 848-2703