On October 29, 1951, the Rev. Albert W. Hillestad was instituted as twelfth rector of the Church of the Ascension. Fr. Hillestad was born on July 11, 1924, in New Richmond, Wisconsin; a graduate of the University of Wisconsin (1947) he had served three years in the United States Navy during World War II. Following his graduation (Cum Laude) from the Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in June, 1950, Fr. Hillestad was ordained a deacon and priest and for a year served as curate of Christ Church, LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
In a letter to parishioners the rector alluded to priests who preceded him "and distinguished themselves and the parish by the glorious traditions which have been built, and the witness you all have maintained for the Catholic Faith. The reputation of the parish is known from coast to coast." Fr. Hillestad noted, however, that the task of the Ascension was not confined to maintaining a tradition.
We dare not content ourselves with a review of our glorious past. It is the future of God's Holy Church, localized in our parish, with which we must be concerned . . . We must remain conservative in regard to the eternal truths for which we stand. At the same time we must be liberal in regard to the matter of our mission of Evangelization . . . The Holy Church, its faith and Gospel, were not given to us as a private preserve. We have them only in so far as we give them to others.
Related to the general mission of evangelization, Fr. Hillestad assigned a very high priority to Christian education in the parish. For the nurture of young Catholic Christians, the rector believed, far more was required than weekly church school classes and special children's services. Designating the 9:00 A.M. Eucharist as a family Mass in 1952, he urged children together with their parents to attend. "Unless parents are willing and able to live the Catholic Faith with their children," Fr. Hillestad wrote, "it is almost useless for us as officials and teachers to try to teach them the Faith."
Convinced that providing adults, particularly parents, with a knowledge of the Catholic Faith was the church's critically important responsibility, the rector instituted a class for adults at the same time children's classes met following the 9:00 A.M. Mass. Although methods of instruction differed, topics taught children and adults were generally the same.
The Ascension Sunday school served primarily the families of parishioners. Three other ventures in Christian education, conducted under Fr. Hillestad's leadership during his relatively brief rectorate, provided more than any other parish activities the community "outreach" which the rector viewed as an essential component of parochial life.
The first of these, an early childhood education program, had been initiated by sisters of the Order of St. Anne during Fr. Stoskopf's rectorate. By September of 1952 the preschool had a full complement of 24 children (and a waiting list of the same number), the majority of whom were from families in the neighborhood with no previous association with the parish. The school provided not only care for the children of working parents, but also medical and dental services. Children received the rudiments of instruction in Catholic faith and practice. Daily chapel services, Mass, catechetical instruction, hymnody and lessons concerning the meaning of the Mass were among the varied religious emphases of the curriculum.
"It is a thrilling experience," wrote the Rev. Russell Nakata, curate, "to see the children grow not only in their social attitudes and habits, but also to note the progress in learning simple acts of Catholic devotion and in assisting Mass with the congregational responses."
The importance of the school in the total outreach program of the parish cannot be overestimated. The large majority of the day school children come from unchurched homes. Also, a large number are from DP [displaced persons] families--people who are still rather new to the city and who are especially responsive to the Church's message and invitation to find their place in the Family of God. Within the past month one of these youngsters received the Sacrament of Baptism and several more will soon be on their way. Another youngster has recently begun serving at the altar as an acolyte.
In September, 1953, the nursery school, formerly under the management of the sisters of St. Anne, became the responsibility of the parish. The following January Mrs. Lucy Gale, a trained and experienced administrator of early childhood education programs, was appointed directress of St. Anne's School. An association of parents and teachers began meeting monthly in 1955.
As an additional means of extending Christian education to youth of the neighborhood, Fr. Hillestad began in 1953 a program of religious instruction for children conducted on weekdays throughout the school year. The program was particularly suited to the Ascension's neighborhood, in which many parents were obliged to leave early for work, and children were provided with a place to go for instruction between 8:00 A.M. and the beginning of the public school day.
Within a month of the commencement of the program in September, 50 children were enrolled. On Wednesday mornings Mass was offered, followed by a light breakfast for the children. On Tuesday the instruction, conducted by Fr. Hillestad and Fr. Nakata, centered on the Eucharist. On other mornings the instructors followed a course of studies running through the school year, in which the children received a systematic introduction to teachings of the Faith, presented along with appropriate projects, stories, and songs. A special correspondence course was developed for children of the parish who lived too far from the Ascension to attend the daily church school; curriculum materials were mailed to parents with instructions concerning how the materials could be best adapted to the home situation.
The daily religious education program was launched in the summer of 1953 with a one-week vacation church school for sixty children between the ages of seven and twelve. Children and parents were initially contacted by clergy and assisting seminarians, who made neighborhood house calls, and the majority of children enrolled in the program were new to the Church of the Ascension. Children were introduced to the life of the Christian family and the Church through activities (including stories, crafts, songs, and games) which provided a balance of prayer, learning, and play.
The summer vacation church school was conducted again in 1954. Considerably expanded in 1955, the youth program, involving 56 children, extended over ten weeks and included playground activities, organized indoor and outdoor games, field trips, and a week of camping in Michigan. Children attended chapel and each week assisted at a sung Mass. Assessing the program, Fr. Nakata wrote:
Socially, the contribution of the program towards meeting the recreational needs of children in the immediate neighborhood has been significant and clear, and we have had some very happy comments from friends and observers who have seen the program in operation. But most important of all, the program has offered a whole summer of daily creative opportunities for spiritual growth and development. While the spirit of Christian fellowship in play and worship and the growth of real community is immediately evident, the wider implications of these factors will become clear only with the passage of time.
The following summer the youth program, subsidized by scholarships and financial assistance from parishioners and other sources, served 109 children.
The rector's call for evangelization, to which parish youth programs provided one response, was most vividly sounded in a series of Lenten missions. Prior to the first mission of 1953, consisting of Wednesday evening programs throughout the season, a group of young businessmen and businesswomen, social workers and seminarians helped to promote the mission by thoroughly canvassing businesses, apartment buildings, and private homes in neighborhoods on the Near North Side, speaking with all interested persons and distributing large numbers of announcement posters, blotters and brochures. Attendance at the 1953 Wednesday mission programs ranged between 76 and 118 persons, many of them visitors to the Ascension for the first time.
During the week of March 1-5, 1954, a pre-Lenten teaching mission was conducted at the Ascension. Prior to each evening's service at 8:00, the rector, curate and visiting missioner held outdoor services along LaSalle Street at noon and again at 5:00 P.M. Dressed in cassocks and birettas, the missioners offered prayers, told Bible stories and sang hymns (accompanied by an accordion). The evening services were non-liturgical, with extemporaneous prayer, instructions with the aid of a blackboard, a short sermon from the aisle, and hymn singing. One hundred fifty-six attended the opening service, of whom 60 were strangers. Of the newcomers, 25 continued to attend regular church services and 12 enrolled in a five-week inquirers' class.
The purpose of the mission, explained Fr. Hillestad, was to awaken the community to the Church's presence.
We have to remove the idea that the Episcopal Church is stuffy. We must reach out for souls. It is not enough to wait for them to stumble into our church building. As Anglicans, we have been satisfied too long with mere "cultural conformity," to the neglect of the conversion of souls to God. We must convince the people in our neighborhoods that the primary reason for Christ's Holy Church is to offer them salvation, not just an Anglican Culture.
Fr. Hillestad's emphasis on evangelism mirrored to some extent earlier efforts by which the parish had attempted to extend the Gospel, manifested in the sacramental life and teachings of the Catholic Church, to persons who had no previous association with the Ascension. The Clybourn Street Mission conducted by Fr. Ritchie and his people, as well as James Huntington's 1906 mission during Fr. Larrabee's rectorate (and the entire career of Robert Dolling, who visited and preached at the Ascension in 1898) each exemplified the ideal of Catholic evangelism. Fr. Stoskopf, it is true, focused his ministry almost entirely on the strengthening of Catholic doctrine, discipline, and worship within the existing confines of the parish (and the Church at large). He did, however, instruct parishioners at an appropriate time each year to assume the important responsibility of urging friends and acquaintances who were non-communicants to attend inquirers' classes and prepare for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
For Fr. Hillestad, conforming to the will of God through Christ was the foundation of evangelism. If, as the rector believed, this conformity entailed full participation in the Body of Christ, then it remained a question what such participation implied for each Christian aspiring to membership in a parish community and, specifically, how members of the Ascension parish community should order their priorities. In the rector's view the Mass provided a most important context for answering the question. As an act of corporate worship and sacrifice, as well as a means of divine grace, the Eucharist communicated a true sense of the meaning of community and, just to the extent that parochial life reflected this meaning, others outside the Body of Christ would be moved to conversion and commitment.
Because the Ascension in the 1950s was located in the midst of neighborhoods of diverse racial, cultural and socio-economic composition, Fr. Hillestad was convinced that membership of the parish should reflect this same diversity. His conviction did not lead to an overt call for integration for the sake of integration so much as it did to an appeal that parishioners consider the reality of the situation of the parish. Unlike the majority of Episcopal parishes, ministering to Caucasian congregations in relatively affluent city and suburban neighborhoods, the mission of the Ascension was prescribed, very simply, by the circumstance of its location, and the immediate opportunities this location presented for the crucial task of evangelization.
As noted, however, the rector held that the quality of parochial life was itself a potent determinant of the extent to which others would seek to identify with the Ascension community. His attempts to influence the ways by which parishioners interacted with one another met with some success.
In order to encourage greater communication and mutual awareness, Fr. Hillestad first arranged for a simple breakfast to be served after the Sunday 9:00 A.M. Mass; as attendance at the family Mass grew each year, parishioners became better acquainted, and visitors were welcomed to the common meal. Birthdays and other anniversaries were remembered at the altar. An active parish council, consisting of representatives of all the Ascension's organizations, was founded in 1955 and met regularly to discuss common priorities, programs, and problems. Friday evening at the Ascension became parish family night as parishioners (numbering as many as 50) met to share both an informal meal and fellowship provided by the occasion.
All of these activities were informed by Fr. Hillestad's view that only as a closely knit group, very much akin to a family, could the parish accomplish its important work.
We need opportunities to be together as people united in God, to study our Parish life, its program now and with an eye to the future; we need to plan together special events, speakers, retreats, socials; we need to learn how the Church and the Sacraments can be brought to bear on the lives of nominal Christians, lapsed Christians and the unchurched . . . We must become more and more aware of the necessity of studying together our common vocation--how we can bring men and women to God through His Church. We must reach out into our community and be the light shining in darkness, the leaven in the lump of dough.
Although evangelization as a major theme of parish life was unique in the history of the Church of the Ascension, the rector's concurrent dedication to Catholic doctrinal profession, disciplinary commitment, and liturgical expression was a direct continuation of the tradition championed by his predecessors at the Ascension since the 1870s. Also concerned with the status and future of the Catholic movement in the diocese and throughout the Church, Fr. Hillestad served both as president of the Chicago chapter of the American Church Union, and co-chairman of the chapter committee which made arrangements for the International Catholic Congress of Unity, which was held in Chicago on August 1-3, 1954.
The congress, first in a series of three gatherings of international interest and importance, was immediately followed by meetings of the Anglican Congress in Minneapolis (August 4-12) and the World Council of Churches in Evanston (August 14-31). The clergy prayed for the peace, unity and purity of the Church's witness at Minneapolis, aware that if discord and disunity were evident, it would be because some wished to compromise the Anglican Communion's Catholic heritage.
The World Council meeting, which would explore issues dividing Christendom, provided a particular challenge to Anglican representatives. "When matters of Apostolic Orders and Catholic Sacraments are involved," wrote Fr. Nakata, "real Anglicans will see clean-cut limits to fellowship and cooperation which cannot be compromised or overlooked ... on grounds of our inalienable loyalty to the Faith of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the Faith once delivered to the Saints, the Faith which is our heritage as a Catholic body."
Partly because of its proximity to the other two prominent and highly visible international gatherings, the Catholic Congress of 1954 was considered a meeting of unusual importance by those committed to the Catholic movement throughout the Anglican Communion. Over 150 bishops, archbishops, prelates and other high dignitaries from many parts of the world converged on Chicago (including representative officials of Orthodox, Polish National Catholic, and Old Catholic bodies) to bear witness to common convictions and to discuss the meaning of reunion.
The Church of the Ascension served as congress headquarters, and for weeks prior to the event both the clergy and several parishioners devoted themselves entirely to making arrangements for the meeting. Throughout June and July advance registrations were received at the parish in steadily growing numbers from all parts of the nation and abroad, and it became evident that attendance would be far greater than expected. As the opening day approached, special trains brought delegates from New York, Philadelphia and Washington; delegates from various midwestern cities traveled in chartered buses and motor caravans.
Sessions of the Catholic Congress were held in the Chicago Stadium. Over 8,000 persons attended the opening service on the evening of Sunday, October 1. Solemn Evensong was sung by the Rt. Rev. Donald H. V. Hallock, bishop of Milwaukee, assisted by the suffragan bishops of Dallas and New York. The Rev. Harold Riley of London, England, general secretary of the English Church Union, delivered an opening address on "The Meaning of Reunion." Reminding his listeners that the reunion of all who profess to believe in Christ was a subject of great importance and urgency, Fr. Riley described the connection between the Church and its Lord as so close, "... that we can use the word 'Christ' itself in two different ways. We can speak of Christ as the Head of the Body of the Church; and we can also speak of Christ as being the whole Body, Head and members together; our Saviour and ourselves in Him."
The cardinal idea of the Catholic religion may indeed be well expressed in the phrase 'Christ-in-His-Church'; for the Catholic faith does not teach us merely to look back over the years to a Christ of long ago, now parted from us while earthly life endures; nor merely to look up to a Christ now reigning in heaven, from whence He looks down on us below; it is the religion of a Christ whose very life is extended throughout His Body in this world and the next, and whose work ... is still performed by that Body. It is because the life of the Church transcends this world, that we can still believe in the Church's unity, even though there is a breakdown of fellowship within the Church militant.
Fr. Riley discussed means by which faith, order and worship provide elements which are essential to unity.
Other papers delivered at the congress dealt with the theme of unity as related to the scriptures, creeds, apostolic ministry, and sacraments. At the closing service on the morning of Tuesday, August 3, more than 600 persons formed the procession for the Solemn Catholic Congress Mass, of which Bishop DeWolfe of Long Island was the celebrant. "Behind the colors carried by service personnel, came visiting acolytes, seminarians, religious orders, visiting ministers from other Christian bodies, clergy of the other branches of the Catholic Church, the Anglican clergy, visiting prelates of the Orthodox and other Catholic Churches, and their representatives, archbishops of the Anglican Communion and their attendants, and the celebrant and his assistants. A Votive Mass of the Holy Trinity, using the propers for Trinity Sunday, was offered in thanksgiving for God's blessing on the Congress." Deacons of the Mass.included Fr. Nakata; in addition, Fr. Hillestad served as a deacon of honor.
During the congress visitors from many parts of the world worshipped at the Church of the Ascension. On Sunday, August 1, Bishop Jacob deMel of Ceylon celebrated the 9:00 A.M. Mass at the high altar while the bishop of Malmesbury offered Mass at the chapel altar. At 9:45 A.M. a Japanese-speaking congregation gathered for a Mass (with sermon in Japanese) celebrated by the bishop of Hokkaido. The Solemn Pontifical Mass that morning, at which Bishop deMel preached, was attended by the Most Rev. Archbishop Andrey, Metropolitan of the Bulgarian, and the Rt. Rev. Josef J. Demmel, bishop of the Old Catholic Church in Germany.
On Monday morning, August 2, the church was filled to overflowing for the first solemn celebration in the United States of a Mass in the Japanese language using the recently revised liturgy of the Nippon Seikokai (the Holy Catholic Church in Japan). The bishop of Hokkaido was celebrant, assisted by the bishop suffragan of Tokyo and the bishop of Kitakanto. Commenting on the Mass, Fr. Nakata wrote:
One had a moving experience that morning--perhaps made more vivid than usual by the fact that the Mass was offered in an unfamiliar tongue--of our common-unity amid diversity transcending this-worldly barriers of race and language, which characterizes the truly Catholic nature of the Family of God. Catholics from the Deep South and Texas, Catholics from Maine to California, Catholics from Europe and the British Isles, Catholics from many parts of the Orient, all gathered together as One Family in Christ, to offer the One Perfect Sacrifice!
Just three years before its centennial celebration, the prominent role of the Ascension in the 1954 congress underscored the extent to which the parish for decades had remained close to the mainstream of the Catholic revival in the Anglican Communion. In spring, 1956, as the year of the 100th jubilee approached, the parish council met to discuss the centennial and solicit ideas for its celebration.
The 1957 observance took place on Ascension Day, May 30. Low Masses were said at 7 and 8 o'clock A.M., followed by confirmation at 10:00, administered by Suffragan Bishop Charles Larrabee Street, and the celebration of Solemn Mass in the presence of the bishop. The Rev. Grieg Taber, rector of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, New York City, preached. After a luncheon at the Ambassador East Hotel early in the afternoon, the service of Solemn Evensong and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament was conducted at 4:00 in the presence of the Rt. Rev. Gerald Francis Burrill, bishop of Chicago. The sermon was preached by the Rev. Dr. J. V. Langmead Casserley, professor of dogmatic theology at General Theological Seminary. A concluding reception and buffet supper were held in the parish and guild halls.
At the time of the centennial celebration, the rector, members of the vestry and parishioners were aware of a recently negotiated legal settlement of the utmost importance for the future financial integrity of the parish. In 1956 the vestry had accepted terms, highly favorable to the Church of the Ascension, of a proposed resolution of long-standing litigation associated with Miss Alice Stoskopf's estate.
In 1951 the former rector's estate, in excess of one million dollars, was left in trust to the Ascension, with the parish as beneficiary of its income. However, in accord with the terms of his will, the income went first to Fr. Stoskopf's sister, who survived him by only five months. Although Miss Stoskopf's estate, also valued at more than a million dollars, was left in trust to the Ascension and two other beneficiaries, members of the Stoskopf family filed suit, the settlement of which was summarized by Fr. Hillestad:
The suit involved several very complicated legal claims, as well as an attempt to break Miss Alice's will in favor of her cousin. The settlement with the contestants was agreed upon by the three principal beneficiaries--the Church of the Ascension, Chicago; St. Anne's Convent, Chicago; and St. Andrew's School for Boys, St. Andrew's, Tenn. The payment of $230,000 to the contestants includes money legally claimed as settlement on estates that go back three generations, which estates had never been cleared.
In 1957 the parish received first distributions of income from the estates, a most significant source of financial support which continues to this day.
A visitor to the Ascension in the mid-1940s, who returned a decade later, would have noted that although little had changed in the schedule of services and forms of sacramental expression and worship, parish life was transformed in many respects. Particularly evident would have been the larger number of parishioners, many more than before of varied racial and cultural origin, actively involved in the church's organizations and activities; successful and thriving youth programs; and the general family orientation of the Ascension. In terms of commonly cited indices of vitality and growth (number of communicants and attendance at services), the parish had indeed prospered during the period 1951-1957.
At the conclusion of his rectorate, reflecting on the record of these accomplishments, Fr. Hillestad was also aware that on occasion leadership had been difficult. As a young priest he had found his first position of major responsibility in a parish dominated by the memory of his predecessor, a priest whose very presence through the decades had become intimately identified with the Church of the Ascension. With respect to nearly all the former rector's views on Catholic doctrine, discipline and worship, Fr. Hillestad was in complete accord. He found himself, however, not in agreement with some parishioners (and sisters of the Order of St. Anne) concerning the practice of celebrating Solemn High Masses at which members of the congregation did not receive communion, as well as what was considered another established parish tradition, clerical celibacy after ordination.
Since the late 1870s noncommunicating Solemn High Masses had been the custom at the Church of the Ascension. Those who wished to receive fasting communion were expected to do so at an early Mass on Sunday morning and return after breakfast to participate with others in the principal liturgy of the parish. As noted, the celebration of the "short Mass" (the Eucharist without those elements of the liturgy associated with the reception of communion) had been the issue which divided Fr. Ritchie and Bishop McLaren. In 1924 the institution and regular practice of the "short Mass" was cited by Fr. Stoskopf as one of the great victories of the Catholic revival.
Throughout Fr. Hillestad's rectorate certain parishioners (particularly those who belonged to second and third generations of families attending the Ascension) remained staunch proponents of the practice, despite the rector's serious misgivings and attempts to institute change. A complete Mass, the rector argued, liturgically is both a sacrifice and a participation in that sacrifice; there is both the offering of the Body and Blood of Christ to the Father and the receiving of the same back from the Father. In encouraging members of the congregation to receive communion at the Solemn High Mass, however, Fr. Hillestad wished also to retain adherence to the discipline of preparation and fasting, inviting those to receive who were baptized, episcopally confirmed, in a state of grace and prepared by fasting from midnight on.
The rector was troubled by the fact that even given his arguments to the contrary, a number of parishioners still had no desire to abandon the non-communicating Mass. "I am well aware of the fact," he wrote, "that some of you have been trained for the better share of your lives in a particular belief concerning this matter."
I am also mindful of the fact that you are the chiefest of the faithful. You are at Mass regularly on Sundays and the greater feast days. You are active in the Parish Family. You make your Confessions, and in every sense are sincere and devout. This fact makes it more difficult for your Priest and Pastor to effect a change. Even though I am conscientiously convinced that this change is needful and right, I have your years of training and practice on my conscience as well.
Another difficulty was associated with Fr. Hillestad's marriage. Following the rector's wedding in June, 1954, he and Mrs. Hillestad resided in the rectory with other members of their family (two children born before Fr. Hillestad's resignation in 1957). The Hillestads were warmly received by parishioners and cordially welcomed to the parish family. A few parishioners (and sisters of the Order of St. Anne), however, were concerned that the rector's marriage was inconsistent with what they viewed as a long-standing and highly appropriate parish tradition: clerical celibacy after ordination.
What, in fact, was the status of this tradition? Canon Charles Dorset, first of the succession of seven Anglo-Catholic rectors to serve the Ascension, was married throughout his rectorate (1869-1875); it is not known whether Mr. Dorset's marriage occurred before or after his ordination to the priesthood. Fr. Hillestad's three immediate predecessors, Arthur Ritchie (1875-1884), Edward Larrabee (1884-1909), and William Stoskopf (1909-1951), had not married. There are no extant records of the views of Canon Dorset, Fr. Ritchie, or Fr. Larrabee concerning the appropriateness of a priest's marriage after ordination.
As noted, however, in a paper delivered at the Fourth Catholic Congress of 1928, Fr. Stoskopf had urged a "return to the Catholic tradition" that a priest, if married, must be married before ordination. This view, for centuries current among Orthodox Christians, and until recent years widely held by Anglo-Catholics (including, very likely, Arthur Ritchie and Edward Larrabee), was reiterated by the former rector in sermons at the Ascension, and no doubt influenced those who perceived Fr. Hillestad's marriage as inappropriate.
A third issue, in a somewhat more subtle and covert sense than the other two, also proved divisive. It arose in response to the rector's successful efforts to include within the parish family individuals of racial and cultural groups other than the predominant group previously represented at the Ascension. It manifested itself in some parishioners' concern, quietly expressed to one another, that perhaps the mission to "outsiders" had gone too far; that more attention should be directed to the solid core of members who through the years had loyally and faithfully supported the parish and, long after the departure of the highly transient newcomers, would still retain major responsibility for the future of the Church of the Ascension.
On May 12, 1957, four months after he announced his resignation as rector, Fr. Hillestad unequivocally addressed this concern in a sermon which also summarized the major themes of his ministry at the Ascension:
We as an Anglo-Catholic parish have borne witness to the Catholic doctrines of Holy Church. We have borne witness to the worshipful expression of those doctrines in our liturgical worship. We have just begun to bear witness to the results of correct belief and correct worship, that necessarily must issue in our living together as members of God's family.
During the past five-and-one-half-years we have learned together, fought together and grown together. What was just a few years ago an entirely Caucasian parish in a completely mixed neighborhood, now reflects the life and color of our community. This is real progress--Christian progress! All races, all nationalities, all economic and social groups have been welcomed without discrimination and have become a part of our Christian family.
There are some who do not like this--people who long for 'the good old days' when children did not disturb their private devotions at Mass, when all faces were white and when new-comers were kept 'under control.' I have been told--and I break no confidence when I say this, because it was stated in a public situation--that we should be more selective in our outreach to people. Now this presupposes that the Christian religion is the property of middle- and upper-class whites, and that we permit persons of another race to have a share in it as a result of our big-heartedness.
The day of the mono-chrome parish is over. And any attitude which would look for its return is reactionary and regressive.
During the past few years we have attempted to live the Catholic religion in this parish. We have lived and worked in the community. We have tried to express the Will of Christ in all the programs and activities we have sponsored. All has been squarely centered in the Mass. All has been an expression in very concrete terms, of the life of the Communion of Saints... A dying parish has once again come to life and has begun to meet the challenges of its inner-city community. The challenges have come and they have been answered by a parish whose life and work has been equal to it.
Following his resignation as rector, Fr. Hillestad served as vicar of St. Mark's Church, Oconto, Wisconsin, and St. Paul's Church, Beaver, Wisconsin. In 1964 he was named rector of St. Andrew's Church, Carbondale, Illinois, and Archdeacon of Cairo, Illinois. During his tenure in Carbondale he was chaplain to the Illinois State Penitentiaries at Menard and Vienna. Albert W. Hillestad was consecrated bishop coadjutor of the diocese of Springfield, Illinois, on February 19, 1972, and was enthroned as bishop of the diocese on September 24, 1972.