St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 1500 Brookdale Road, Naperville, welcomed its new pastor, the Rev. Don McLaughlin, and his best pal Heidi, a beagle mix, at receptions following recent weekend Masses. And Heidi knew she was especially welcome because parishioners gifted her with dog biscuits deposited into a basket thoughtfully provided at each reception.
“I can’t tell you how excited and thrilled I am to be assigned to serve as the fourth pastor in the history of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish,” Father McLaughlin said when introducing himself during homilies that weekend. He also commented, “The reputation you have as a spirit-filled, dynamic, active, welcoming parish community that serves the poor, twins with a parish in Haiti, and has an incredible music ministry is something I wanted very much to be a part of!”
A priest of the Joliet Diocese for more than three decades and previously pastor at St. Michael Parish in Wheaton for 11 years, Father McLaughlin said his role as pastor was “to foster greatness in others … to call forth the God-given gifts and talents of you – the people of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish – to build up the Body of Christ right here in Naperville.”
He promised to travel with parishioners not as one who has all the answers but as one with faults and limited talents, “groping with you through the darkness of the world into the light of God who loves us, forgives us, and sends Himself in Jesus Christ and in the grace of the Holy Spirit.”
A native of Indianapolis, Ind., Father McLaughlin said his only claim to fame was having graduated from the same high school as David Letterman. Among his interests he includes traveling, especially to Europe; being a wine enthusiast; and enjoying the theatre. Father McLaughlin admitted to seeing “The Phantom of the Opera” over 30 times in 25 years. He also enjoys concerts, commenting “Mozart and I are great friends. But so, too, are Diana Ross and the Motown/Disco era.”
Father McLaughlin was ordained in 1981. In addition to St. Michael Church, he also has served at the following parishes: St. Margaret Mary, Naperville; St. Alexander, Villa Park; St. Philip the Apostle, Addison; St. Walter, Roselle; and St. Charles Borromeo, Bensenville.
Father McLaughlin succeeds the Rev. Joel Fortier who retired after 10 years as pastor of St. Thomas.
St. Thomas the Apostle, a parish of the Diocese of Joliet, strives to bear the Good News of God’s unconditional love to all generations through worship, faith formation, witness and service. Organized in 1984, the St. Thomas faith community numbers more than 3,300 households of more than 11,000 people. For general parish information, call (630) 355-8980 or visit www.stapostle.org.