PROVINCE OF CHICAGO
The Chicago Province of the Clerics of St. Viator dates its roots back to 1865, when three Viatorians from the Province of Canada — Fr. Pierre Beaudoin, Br. Augustin Martel and Br. Jean-Baptiste Bernard — carried the vision of Fr. Querbes to the United States.
That vision, of raising up communities where faith is lived, deepened and celebrated — and of caring for those accounted of least importance — still drives the Provincial of the Chicago Province and his Provincial Council.
Fr. Daniel Hall serves as Provincial Superior, with Br. Michael Gosch serving as Assistant Provincial. They are aided by council members Fr. Mark Francis, Fr. Daniel Lydon and Br. Rob Robertson. Together, they are charged with working to promote the spiritual life of Viatorians and the communities where they serve.
Back in 1865, the Viatorian pioneers chose Bourbonnais, Illinois, located 40 miles south of Chicago, and they established Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary as the first permanent Viatorian parish in the United States.
On Aug. 2, 1882, they formally established the Province of Chicago. Fr. Cyril Fournier, its first provincial, moved the novitiate from Bourbonnais to the Northwest side of Chicago, and in 1888, the community opened St. Viator Parish, of which Fr. Fournier became its first pastor.
However, many Viatorians remained in Bourbonnais, where they established an academy that later became St. Viator College. It marked the beginning of decades of Viatorians involved in education and responding to contemporary, social issues in the United States.
Viatorians also continued to work in pastoral care. In the Bourbonnais area, they served at St. George, St. Patrick and St. Anne parishes, as well as at Maternity BVM and St. Viator in Chicago.
Under the leadership of Fr. Richard J. French, named Provincial in 1939, a new provincial residence on Sheridan Road in Chicago opened for the novitiate, as well as a residence for priests and brothers teaching at universities, and scholastics studying in Chicago.
In 1950, Fr. John Brown, provincial, purchased an 80-acre farm in Arlington Heights, IL in order to build a new novitiate, since the Sheridan Road facility was filled to capacity. The Province Center would eventually include residence rooms, meeting rooms, staff offices and a chapel.
The province also expanded its reach to include parishes in the Las Vegas area. They established St. Viator Catholic Community in 1954 in Las Vegas, and in 1986 they opened St. Thomas More Catholic Community in suburban Henderson to respond to the dramatic growth in the Southwest. The Diocese of Las Vegas took over St. Thomas More on July 1, 2019.
In response to a request of Pope Pius XI, for religious communities to send members to evangelize in developing countries, Fr. John Stafford, Provincial, sent three Viatorians to establish Colegio San Viator in Bogotá, Colombia in 1961. Their mission was to provide quality education, particularly for children of low income families.
That same year, in 1961, Viatorians opened Saint Viator High School in Arlington Heights, and a new Viatorian Seminary in Washington DC., and in 1963 they opened Colegio San Viator in Bogotá. In 2017, the Viatorians advanced their educational mission in Colombia by taking another school in Tunja, calling it Colegio San Viator Tunja. The latest endeavor is opening Cristo Rey St. Viator College Preparatory High School in Las Vegas, slated for August, 2019.