People at St. Luke: Meet John and Karen Verderber
"Truly a community of people; extremely prayerful, empathetic, and
sympathetic. In a crisis people at St. Luke will call, ask how we are doing, and tell us
they are praying for us." This is why John and Karen Verderber are enthusiastic about
St. Luke parish.
John and Karen became members of St. Luke in the spring of 1987 when it
was a new mission church. A friend, Stea Zekios, who is also a member of St. Luke parish,
told John and Karen about it. The Verderber children were ages 11, 12, and 14 at the time,
and they loved St. Luke parish. Fr. John Matusiak was pastor at that time, and there were
30 kids in the youth group.
John was originally Roman Catholic. He became Orthodox when he met Karen
36 years ago. A lot of changes were being made in the Roman Catholic church at that time,
and John didn't like the way things were going. He liked Orthodoxy because it hasn't
changed in 2000 years.
Karen is a cradle Orthodox and comes from a Czech and Hungarian
background. She and John were married in 1967 at SS. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, which
is now in Burr Ridge.
In John and Karen's fifteen years at St. Luke, many changes have taken
place. When they first came, St. Luke was a fledgling mission, "like a baby taking its
first steps," Karen said. The empathy and spiritual health the Verberber's now experience
at St. Luke wasn't there then. Nevertheless, the people were hard workers and welcomed new
One of the most difficult adjustments the Verberbers had to make
involved frequent changes of priests. Besides Fr. John Matusiak, Frs. James Doyle,
Bass, and Cyril Riggs served St. Luke parish. Of all the priests, John likes the present
pastor, Fr. Andrew Harrison, the best. The frequent clergy changes fragmented St. Luke
parish somewhat, but Karen feels Fr. Andrew, who has been at St. Luke for five years, has
pulled all the loose ends together. "He's enthusiastic, open to all suggestions, and he
makes himself available, " she said. She also feels that our new building project is
bringing people closer together.
Karen is in charge of the St. Luke Charities Ministry, which selects a
beneficiary for each monthly charity collection. "People here are very generous," she
stated, "even though money is needed to pay for the new building. The Charities Ministry
gets many requests for help. These come from the IOCC, OCMC, prison memories, homeless
shelters, needy individuals, etc. A six-month giving plan is worked out, in which
priorities are determined. In October-November the Charities Ministry collects
coats for needy people in Chicago.
John spends his time in the altar. Fr. Andrew suggested that John
become a Reader. John would also like to be a deacon, but he has other commitments right
now. So John presently works with the altar boys and is a Reader during various services.
Karen and John are both in church most of the time for Vespers, Matins,
and The Divine Liturgy, on both weekends and feast days. Their children are grown now, and
two of them are married. Karen and John are now looking forward to the birth of a
grandchild in January.