Lemont's Lesnieski celebrates 40th anniversary as a deacon of Archdiocese of Chicago
LEMONT — Growing up, Norb Lesnieski was always involved in his local church.
He served as an alter boy and an usher, but never did he expect his duties to reach the level of a permanent Deacon of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Deacons, which rank just under pastors and priests, were a thing of the past in 1972 when Lesnieski was ordained. The Second Vatican Council decided to bring back the role of deacons in the 70s.
A priest from St. Cyril asked Lesnieski to become a deacon for the parish as he had been a loyal parishioner since he moved to Lemont in 1960.
"It was an adjustment for me; I didn't know what to expect," Lesnieski said. "I was walking into something I had never seen before. (Deacons) hadn't been around so I had no clue. What do I do?"
In his role as a deacon, Lesnieski assists during Mass, funerals and wakes, presents the sacramental host to attendees, visits the sick at hospitals, and performs baptisms and weddings. In his 40 years of service, Lesnieski has baptized all of his grandchildren and performed some of their wedding ceremonies as well.
Lesnieski was a bit reluctant in his role at first, concerned how parishioners would respond to him as deacons were unknown at the time.
"My biggest problem was how the parishioners would accept me," he said. "I was usually the guy coming out of the pew with his wife."
The parish came to know and respect Lesnieski in his role as a the parish deacon. Through the years, Lesnieski worked on activities for the church and the Lemont community.
In assisting the church, he became president of the Helping Hands ministry — a food pantry through the church for those in need.
"Helping Hands was helping the poor people in town here once a year and I jumped all over that — if they are hungry once a year, aren't they hungry every month?" Lesnieski asked. "I suggested we give them food every month and I helped expand the Helping Hands."
He was also president and chaplain of the Holy Name Society, which was a golf tournament for men only, and director and chaplain of St. Cyril's Youth Club.
In Lemont, Lesnieski was a member of the Lemont Park District Commissioners for 36 years helping shape its vision and overseeing the expansion to meet the needs of the growing community. He also took part in little league and the Lemont Jaycees.
Today, Lesnieski said he isn't looking to begin any new projects in town or through the church but happy to see that most of his work has been sustained through the years.
"I am slowing down after 40-some years," he said. "Let someone else pick up the ball."
Still, Lesnieski said he is happy to assist at any church in Lemont if he is invited and enjoys presenting the sacramental host and communions the most in his list of duties.
"It has been a good 40 years," Lesnieski said.
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