The Walton Family, St. Benedict Parish
Before St. Benedict Parish’s Joy and Larry Walton moved to the Near North neighborhood 13 years ago, Larry, already a Christian, converted to Catholicism so the couple could be united in their faith. With that commitment, the couple, along with their three children, are active and involved members of St. Benedict’s Parish on Irving Park Road.
The family lives just a few blocks from the church, which was established in 1902, so they consider it their second home. Their youngest, Will, 10, and his sister Lauren, 12, both attend St. Benedict Prep. Eldest sister Kiley, 14, is a freshman at St. Ignatius College Prep. With three school-aged children, Larry has spent a good amount of time coaching St. Ben sports.
“We’ve chosen to get involved in a number of ways,” said Joy, who served first on the Home and School Advisory Board, where she got to know many great families, teachers and administrators. Their pastor at the time was Father Jason Malave, who now serves as the Cardinal’s delegate for the Renew My Church Initiative. Today, St. Ben’s pastor is Father Steve Kanonik.
“When we first moved to the neighborhood, I also served on the Parish Transformation Leadership Committee,” Joy recalled. It was a time when all Chicago parishes went through a process to reflect upon their missions and re-assess their relevance in the com-munity. She served on the Parish Council then and remembers enjoying “getting to know both the school and parish points of view.” She and her husband support the church’s fundraising activities and have served in leadership roles for various campaigns. They are stalwart supporters and volunteers for the annual spring benefit gala, too.
“I think it’s important to support whatever parish you belong to because it helps form a community,” added Joy. “Living in a large metropolitan area, I’ve found that parishes not only act as your spiritual center of life, but also as a way to build community. We’ve made lifelong friends through our parish.
“St. Ben’s continues to be vibrant, strong and growing,” she continued. “I believe the more we can have faith-filled communities, the safer our neighborhood will be. I would like to see more people come to church and choose Catholic education, but I also acknowledge every-one may not have the means.”
The Waltons consider them-selves incredibly blessed and give back with their time and treasure. “Our yearly gift to the Annual Catholic Appeal sets a good example for our children. No matter what organization you choose to support, it’s important to share your blessings. For us, joining the Lumen Cordium Society shows our trust and faith in the Catholic Church,” Joy said.