Every institution is the sum of its parts. For a place like Saint Ignatius College Prep, historic pieces spanning decades contribute to that sum.
Archivist Angela Perine manages the collection that tells the story of the school's evolution since its founding in the 1800s. She also tracks donations to the collection including the special contribution this month of a chalice from the family of an alum.
The chalice belonged to Monsignor Ignatius McDermott whose mother and father gave it to him as a gift upon his ordination to the Catholic priesthood. McDermott's nephew, Judge James "Jim" F. Stack '49 was the aforementioned Saint Ignatius alum. His wife, Geraldine, offered a history as perspective.
She said Jim's "Uncle Ig," the monsignor, was one of the founders of the Haymarket Center in Chicago which has helped tens of thousands of people overcome their challenges with substance abuse. She also said Jim and his uncle often would have dinner near the center when they'd see someone who needed help. She wrote, "Uncle Ig would always say, 'Let's give this poor guy a hand. He is down on his luck.'" Together they'd convince the person to go to the Haymarket Center which offered hope and an opportunity to get back on track.
Monsignor McDermott's faithful, daily efforts, made an impression on Geraldine who added, "His compassion was never ending. Uncle Ig gave his all to the suffering, poor and addicted in the city of Chicago."
His service continued until he passed from this world at the age of 95, and his chalice was used for the last time at his nephew's funeral in 2021. Geraldine wrote, "Jim was an alum of Saint Ignatius and spoke often about donating Uncle Ig's chalice to to the school. We hope the new home of such a special chalice will enjoy it and cherish it for years to come."
Father Patrick Fairbanks, S.J., offered thanks and prayers of gratitude to Geraldine, her daughter Laura Dunklau, and her granddaughter Olivia for their generous gift. During a tour with Saint Ignatius College Prep President John Chandler, Perine and historian Ellen Skerrett, the family enjoyed seeing class photos of Judge Stack and Laura's father, Melvin Kamm '55.
The meeting was prelude to a bigger gathering on the horizon. On September 1, the Stack-Kamm families will join Saint Ignatius students at Church of the Holy Family for the Mass of the Holy Spirit, a tradition since 1870. This year's celebrant will be Provincial Karl Kiser, S.J., who will tell the story of Monsignor McDermott, Judge Stack's Uncle Ig, who was born in 1909 on July 31, the Feast of Saint Ignatius.