LYONS — When Marc Reszel arrived at St. Hugh Parish in Lyons in July, he wasn’t just taking on an entire congregation as the only priest for the first time.
He also was arriving home.
Reszel, 50, grew up in La Grange, Indian Head Park and the surrounding community. He had his first communion at St. Francis Xavier Parish and graduated from Lyons Township High School in 1980.
“It was kind of a homecoming,” Reszel said. “There’s a certain ease — a comfort, a familiarity.”
Reszel had come from St. Mary Parish in Buffalo Grove, where he served as pastor from 1999 to 2012.
Before that, he was associate pastor for Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glenview from 1993 to 1999 and Our Lady of Victory Parish from 1988 to 1993.
But this was the first time Reszel had ever been assigned to a parish as the lone priest, he said.
“I knew wherever I was going to go from Buffalo Grove was going to be a smaller congregation,” Reszel said. “The biggest change for me at first was being alone. When the phone rang and there was a funeral, a baptism, it wasn’t something I had to plan out with another priest, it was something I had to schedule and put aside time for.”
St. Hugh Parish counts 600 households as part of its parishioners, compared to the 4,200 households in Buffalo Grove.
“My desire was to respect the traditions set by my nine predecessors while continuing to distinguish St. Hugh,” Reszel said.
That’s why Reszel decided, with the endorsement of the parish council, to hold Saturday mass at 4 p.m. instead of 5, as is common throughout the world, he said. St. Hugh Parish is part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.
“This is a good thing for our parish,” Reszel said. “I expect we’ll have more people show up because of the time change.”
Reszel said the earlier mass is good for parishioners, especially this time of year, because it allows them to get home before it gets dark outside. He also said the earlier mass will allow parishioners to keep their dinner plans, which should help increase attendance.
He’s also noticed an increase in baptisms since he arrived last summer. Reszel said that in six months, he’s done 11 baptisms, which is what the entire church had all of the year prior. He also has six more scheduled in February alone.
“Some of it is really good timing,” Reszel said. “I don’t want to take credit for something I have no control over. But it’s a really hopeful sign of the growth of the parish.”
However, St. Hugh Parish Musical Director Fran Serpe said Reszel deserves more credit than he gives himself.
“He really wants to grow the parish,” Serpe said. “His thing is, if you’re going to be active in the parish, you’re welcome here.”
Serpe said she and other St. Hugh Parish Council members liked that Reszel, a down-to-earth man with local roots, brought a structure to the parish, with monthly staff meetings and regular emails.
“He keeps everyone informed,” Serpe said. “He really wants to know everyone. He’s covered the bases.”