Archiver > IRISH-IN-CHICAGO > 2007-12 > 1197073126

From: Nan Brennan <>
Subject: [IRISH-IN-CHICAGO] Longtime priest at St. James at Sag Bridge Church
Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2007 18:18:46 -0600

Obituaries |Rev. Edwin Bohula: 1930 - 2007

Longtime priest at St. James at Sag Bridge Church

A plain-spoken priest, former naval officer was a driving force
behind renovation of St. James at Sag Bridge Church in Lemont

By Trevor Jensen

Tribune staff reporter

December 6, 2007

Retired from the Navy after 28 years, Rev. Edwin Bohula accepted a
temporary assignment at historic St. James at Sag Bridge Church in 1993.

Parishioners quickly took to the plain-spoken South Sider and Navy
veteran, who gave fresh energy to renovation efforts at the 154-year-
old church in Lemont. At their request, his posting was made permanent.

Father Bohula, 77, died Sunday, Dec. 2, at Advocate Lutheran General
Hospital in Park Ridge, said his sister, Pauline. She said he had
suffered from a variety of ailments for several years.

St. James at Sag Bridge's regular priest had been injured a car crash
at the time Rev. Bohula was asked to fill in, said Willow Springs
Mayor Alan Nowaczyk, a parishioner.

The tiny church atop a bluff near Archer Avenue and Illinois Highway
83, built in 1853 with limestone mined from nearby quarries, had seen
better days. A tornado ripped its roof off in 1991, the century-old
stained glass windows and wooden pews were in need of refurbishing,
and vandals regularly targeted the adjacent graveyard for pranks.

A non-profit group, the St. James Preservation Society, had been
created to get the work done, but the effort had yet to gain steam.
Father Bohula immediately "brought new life to that parish," Nowaczyk

"He really picked up the ball on this thing," said Mike Foran, former
president of the preservation society. "He was like, 'Let's do it,
quit talking about it and let's get this done.'"

Apart from the restoration project, Father Bohula coordinated much-
needed maintenance repairs, such as a new heating and air
conditioning system, Nowaczyk said. Membership grew to more than 600
families and the weekly collection plate overflowed, allowing repair
projects to go forward.

The renovations were completed in 1997, and at a service that
November Father Bohula told the congregation that, "This church would
not become a chapel in a cemetery just used for funerals."

"It's not a place of decay," he said, according to a Tribune article.
"It's a living place."

Father Bohula retired about four years ago.

Father Bohula grew up in St. Salomea parish on the Far South Side. He
looked up to a priest named Anthony Dudek and wanted to be a priest
from the time he was a young boy, his sister said. Following seminary
studies he was ordained and assigned to Immaculate Conception Church
in the South Chicago neighborhood and St. Fidelis Church in the
Humboldt Park neighborhood before joining the Navy in 1964.

A chaplain with the Navy and Marines, Father Bohula achieved the rank
of captain and did three tours during the Vietnam War.

Father Bohula also is survived by a brother, Joseph.

Visitation will be from 2 to 7p.m. Thursday in Our Lady Mother of the
Church, 116 Hilton St., Willow Springs. A mass will be said at 10:30
a.m. Friday in the church.


Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

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