Our Lady of Ransom Parish was founded in 1960 when Rev. Theodore Paluch was asked to establish a new parish in the rapidly growing area of East Maine Township. On August 14, 1960, Father Paluch celebrated the first Mass for the new parish in Ballard School in Niles.
The first Mass was celebrated on the church’s present site on July 29, 1962. In fall of 1962, the school opened under the direction of the Felician Sisters. A junior high building was added to the school for the 1965-66 school year. Father Paluch served as pastor until his retirement in 1979. He remained active at Our Lady of Ransom as Pastor Emeritus until his passing in 1991. Many of the parish’s present organizations and ministries began under his guidance.
In 1979, Rev. John Boreczky became the second pastor of Our Lady of Ransom. Under his direction, OLR was renovated in 1980. He resigned in 1981 and served in other parish work. Father Boreczky passed away in the fall of 2000.
Rev. Thomas Dore was appointed OLR’s third pastor on January 29, 1982. During his tenure, the parish embarked on a stewardship program, founded the Parish Pastoral Council, built a new residence for the sisters, and converted the original convent into the parish Ministry Center. Father Dore left OLR in late 1994 to become pastor at St. Giles Parish in Oak Park. Since 2009, Father Dore has served as the retired senior priest at Saint Pascal Church in Chicago.
Our Lady of Ransom’s fourth pastor was Rev. John R. Hall, appointed March 26, 1995. Father Hall had previously been assigned to Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, serving as director of special events at the cathedral under the leadership of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin.
During Father Hall’s term, OLR launched the “Renew the Pride” campaign, which raised funds to remodel the church and render its facilities handicapped-accessible. Mass was celebrated for the first time in the new church in June of 2006. For more information about the interior remodeling, consult Our Church’s Furnishings.
Due to declining enrollment and changing demographics, Our Lady of Ransom school closed in June 2004. Rooms in the junior high wing of the school building were leased to “A Mother’s Touch” daycare center, thus maintaining the tradition of using the building to serve the children of the community.
On February 10, 2007 Father Hall suffered a fatal heart attack. Cardinal George concelebrated his funeral Mass with nine bishops and 117 priests. Associate Pastor Father Chris Gustafson was appointed Parish Administrator by Cardinal George.
On June 27, 2007, Cardinal George named Rev. Christopher Gustafson the fifth pastor of OLR. Father Chris grew up on the South Side, the fifth of six children. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1984, then attended law school in Chicago. After practicing law for several years, he discerned a vocation to the priesthood and entered Mundelein Seminary. He was ordained a priest on May 20, 1995. Prior to Our Lady of Ransom, Father Chris served as Associate Pastor at Sacred Heart in Winnetka, Saint Christina in Chicago, and Saint Mary in Lake Forest.
The people of Our Lady of Ransom recently celebrated the parish’s 50th Anniversary, looking back fondly but also looking to the future with hope.
Now that you know the story of our parish, we invite you to become a part of the next chapter of its history. Join us for Mass each week. Consider getting involved in a service opportunity or ministry. Attend a social event. As we embark on the next 50 years of our journey, we hope that the community of Our Lady of Ransom will continue to grow in faith and fellowship, reaching out to the world with the love and truth of Jesus Christ.