CALUMET CITY | Some 300 people, many of whom no longer regularly attend church services in Calumet City, packed into St. Victor Church on Saturday for a memorial Mass for the man who was once their pastor.
The Rev. Leo T. Mahon, who from 1975 to 1986 was pastor at St. Victor, 553 Hirsch Ave., died May 20 at age 87.
Parish officials celebrated a memorial Mass for “Father Leo” on Saturday, giving many who no longer regularly attend St. Victor services a chance to come back to the old neighborhood church.
The Rev. Bill Stenzel, of St. Mary of Celle parish in Berwyn, who delivered the homily Saturday, noted the large presence of former parishioners while paying tribute.
“I can see you came from west, north and all kinds of places to be here,” he said, adding that even though Mahon had not been at St. Victor for nearly 27 years, “This parish was part of his present and an object of his affection until the day he died.”
Also joining to celebrate the Mass was St Victor's pastor emeritus, the Rev. Leonard Dubi.
Stenzel told parishioners a story of Mahon’s first days at St. Victor, when the previous pastor made a point of including him in the festivities taking place in 1975 to mark the 50th anniversary of the church’s opening.
Stenzel said Mahon liked to say he enjoyed those early days at St. Victor because he was able to establish ties to older parishioners who had been with the church since it opened in 1925.
Ordained a priest in the Chicago Archdiocese in 1951, Mahon served as director of a committee for Spanish-speaking people in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and also served as a pastor at Catholic missions in Panama from 1963 to 1975, just before coming to St. Victor.
In fact, Stenzel, who came to know Mahon in recent years, asked parishioners to pray for the people of Panama. “They were always in (Mahon’s) heart,” Stenzel said.
When collection baskets were passed around the church, Stenzel also invoked Mahon’s memory, saying, “In Leo’s name, in his honor, in his memory, dig deep into your pockets for St. Victor.”
Among those who attended the service was Jose Marquez, a care-worker who assisted Mahon during the past decade.
He said Mahon helped him get his family from the Philippines to the United States. He also pointed out his 19-month-old son, whom he named Leo as a tribute.
“There’s going to be another Leo,” Marquez said, while choking back tears.