2017 American Catholic Press Benefit

The American Catholic Press (ACP) benefit is held November 10, 2017, Friday evening. The venue for this benefit is Olympia Fields Country Club, in Olympia Fields, Illinois. You get there by going south on I-57 Expressway, exiting eastbound at Vollmer Road, and turning south on Western Avenue. Just after Joe Orr Road, you turn west, on the west side of Western, onto Country Club Road. After about a quarter mile, you come to a watchman and a barrier; the club is gated. You will identify yourself to the watchman at the gate; just say that you are there for the American Catholic Press benefit. The watchman will then cause the barrier to go up. You then proceed forward and park in the lot in front of the main building, which you will enter. No further identification is required. Click here for a local map of the area.

Father John Cusick
Father John Cusick

Father John Cusick was ordained a priest of the Chicago Archdiocese in 1970. He served as associate pastor of Mary, Seat of Wisdom parish, Park Ridge, until 1977. For the next five years, he taught at Niles College of Loyola University, the college seminary program of the diocese. He was also a residence hall director. From 1980 to 1985, he was director of recruitment and admissions. From 1985 on, he was the director of young adult ministry for the diocese. He authored First Steps: A Guide to Encourage Young Men to Consider the Catholic Priesthood. With Kate DeVries, he also authored The Basic Guide to Young Adult Ministry. In 2004, the Governor of Illinois appointed him to the Executive Ethics Commission of the state. Although retired, Father Cusick continues to celebrate Sunday Mass at Old St. Pat’s Church where he has served for many years. He is renowned for his outstanding sermons and his leadership of young adult ministry. He is the founder, for example, of Theology on Tap, a program that regularly gathers young adults for lectures, seminars, and discussion. Together with Father Jack Wall, the former pastor of Old St. Pat’s Church, Father John Cusick has been a leader in building up the parish community, to one of the largest and most vital parishes in the diocese. Thanks to his leadership, Old St. Pat’s has a myriad of committees, ministries, and good works. Perhaps the most well known is the “World’s Largest Block Party,” where thousands of young adults gather to mix and mingle. Father Cusick also developed the First Friday Club of Chicago, a monthly lunch and speaker program held downtown. This program brings together about 200 participants who make connections between their faith, their work, and contemporary issues.

Father Cusick has also preached parish missions throughout the diocese and in much of the U.S., in many states. He has given lectures at diocesan and national conferences, led workshops on evangelization, and directed seminars in religious education and parish planning. He has also directed retreats and workshops for priests in Atlanta, Fort Worth, New York, and St. Louis, as well as for the National Federation of Priests Councils. He also conducted the clergy convocation for many dioceses, such as Baker, Oregon, Kansas City, Kansas, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, Rochester, New York, Salina, Kansas, and Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. He has lectured at the Sacred Heart School of Theology, Hales Corner, Wisconsin, the Institute of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University, Chicago, and Seton Hall University.

He designed and conducted workshops in Georgia, Germany, and Korea, to help chaplains in the army minister to young adults. In 2002, he preached the annual retreat for priest chaplains in the U.S. Air Force. In 1996, he delivered the keynote address for the Serra International Convention and in 1997 the keynote presentations for catechetical conferences in the dioceses of Seattle and LaCrosse, Wisconsin; he delivered a similar address in 1999 for the diocese of San Jose, California. He was also a member of the steering and implementation committees for the national pastoral plan for young adult ministry, Sons and Daughters of Light, promulgated by the National Council of Catholic Bishops in November, 1996.

In 1999, Father Cusick was given the coordinating board award of the Association of Chicago Priests. In 2000, he received the Reynold Hillenbrand Award from the Center for Development in Ministry, of the Chicago diocese. In 2001, ACTA Foundation gave him and Kate DeVries the Lawrence Kelly Award for excellence in adult catechesis. In 2001, Cardinal George presented both with the Chicago medallion for excellence in catechesis. In 2002, Father Cusick facilitated a national young adult conference in Dublin, Ireland. In 2003, Amate House (a young adult communal living program) gave Father Cusick and Kate DeVries the Bernardin medal, for their contribution to the life of the Church and the city of Chicago. For some time, both authors hosted a monthly radio program, The Light Show on 820 AM. In 2005, Holy Trinity High School presented Father Cusick with their President’s Award. In 2006, he was honored as one of the recipients of the Quigley Distinguished Alumnus Award; he graduated from Quigley, a high school seminary, in 1962.

Father John Cusick is the 2017 recipient of the Gratiam Dei  ("grace of God") Award, the highest honor conferred by American Catholic Press.

Barbara Cellini

The Thomas Cellini Huntington’s Foundation was formed in 2005, to support families afflicted with Huntington’s Disease. Also known as HD, this is a progressive, degenerative brain disorder that ultimately causes spontaneous body movements and diminishes the affected person’s ability to walk, talk, think, and reason. Eventually, the individual with HD becomes totally dependent on others for care. The final result is a slow, painful death.

Huntington’s Disease is hereditary, with a genetic basis. Children of parents diagnosed with HD have a 50% chance of inheriting the disease. While research is ongoing, there is no cure or definitive treatment. The Thomas Cellini family has personally experienced the challenge of dealing with this illness. The mission of the Cellini Foundation is to serve as a needed resource for the Huntington’s community. Services are provided those who have been diagnosed with HD or are at risk of developing it. Support is also given to their families and the communities that serve these people. The foundation supports research, education, and testing.

As founder and executive director of the Thomas Cellini Foundation, Barbara truly deserves the Henry Hyde Award. The pro-life cause includes support for her indispensable and charitable ministry. ACP wishes her continued success in her mission.


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