Fr. John Heschlē has been a priest of the Diocese of Chicago since 1978. He graduated from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, in 1975 and earned his Master of Divinity from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, in 1978. He was ordained a deacon in 1978 and a priest in 1979. He served as Vicar and Rector of the Church of St. Anne, Morrison, IL from 1978 to 1993. He has been the Rector of St. Paul’s Church by-the-Lake in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago for over twenty years. He is an associate alumni of Nashotah House Theological Seminary.
Fr. Heschlē has served on several Diocesan and Deanery committees during his ordained ministry and is active in the Rogers Park Clergy Association, serving as treasurer. He also serves as the secretary & treasurer of the Chicago Chapter of the Catholic Clerical Union, as well as the Vice-Superior General of the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament.
As a parish priest Father Heschlē has focused on the growth and health of the local parish church and its vitality in the neighborhood. The parish has been the home and base for the meetings of the Lost Boys of the Sudan. The parish is also active in animal ministries with a regular service for the Thanksgiving and Remembrance of Pets and Animals and a Blessing of Pets that was featured on Wild Chicago, a local public television program. Additionally, a parish program called AniMeals provides food and sundries for low-income and elderly neighbors with pets.
In Father’s time as rector, the parish has grown by about 75% and is now one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse parishes in the Diocese of Chicago. It has parishioners from South America, Asia, Africa, India, England, as well North American origins. Fr. Heschlē believes in neighborhood churches and the role they play in building community. In the Computer Learning Center, refugees learn English and improve their computer skills. The space for this project was rehabbed by the Rogers Park Builders Group in consultation with Fr. Heschlē and a committee from the parish. Teachers are both parishioners of St. Paul’s by-the-Lake and volunteers from the neighborhood. Since 2008, the parish has actively incorporated and assimilated Burmese and Asian refugees into its life.
Facility enhancements over the past decade include an expanded the parking lot completed in 2009 that allows some neighborhood use of the space, a renovated the entrance to the Church with an accessibility ramp completed in 2012 and an interior renovation in 2013 that made the bathrooms accessible from the Nave.
While many churches are known for one particular program such as music, youth ministry, or education, under Fr. Heschlē’s vision St. Paul’s has become a truly neighborhood-friendly parish whose presence is well known in the larger community.
Others Serving at St. Paul’s
Fr. Matthew Kemp
Fr. Abraham Awan
Fr. john burton
Fr. James Steele
Fr. D.L. Banner