'Heart of a shepherd:' Dewes led Barrington parish into new era

  • The Rev. John "Jack" Dewes, who served at five suburban parishes over the course of 56 years, died Nov. 13.

    The Rev. John "Jack" Dewes, who served at five suburban parishes over the course of 56 years, died Nov. 13.

By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 11/19/2021 1:56 PM

The Rev. John "Jack" Dewes served at five suburban parishes over the course of his 56 years as a priest, but it is at St. Anne Catholic Church in Barrington where his legacy lies.

Dewes led the 3,500-family parish for two decades, including during a nearly 10-year, $15 million campus development plan. Its goal was to expand the parish's footprint in with a new church, while retaining the old one as a chapel, adding a gathering space, and renovating its school.


When it opened in 2000, it was one of the largest expansion projects of its kind in the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Dewes passed away Saturday, Nov. 13. He was 82. In recognition of his service to the archdiocese, Cardinal Blase Cupich will celebrate his funeral Mass on Nov. 22 at St. Anne.

"The expansion has served us very well," said the Rev. Bernard Pietrzak, who succeeded Dewes as pastor of St. Anne, starting in 2009. "Jack had a great vision and working with a team of parishioners, including a construction committee and capital campaign committee, it brought us into the 21st century."

Dewes was ordained in 1965 and his first assignment took him to serve at Our Lady of Hope in Rosemont, where he had additional responsibilities serving at O'Hare International Airport.

He later served at St. Raymond de Penafort in Mount Prospect (1972-1979), Immaculate Conception in Highland Park (1979-1985) and at St. Hubert Parish in Hoffman Estates (1985-1989).

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"With all these assignments, Father Jack brought with him an ardent belief that people needed to be welcomed," said Adrienne Kalmes of Barrington, who formerly served as communications director for St. Anne.

When he arrived at St. Anne in 1989 and was tapped to lead this major expansion project, Dewes knew he needed to get to know his parishioners and build consensus.

"He knew he needed to build community before he could turn the shovel," Kalmes says. "Without the formation of community, it would just be a building."

The process was long and arduous, and included negotiations with the village of Barrington to buy a street, in order to expand the parish footprint and build the new church.


Dewes and his committees pitched details of the plan to parishioners through small group meetings, starting first with sharing architectural drawings, and later to review aspects of the capital campaign.

The biggest hurdle was convincing parishioners of the meaning of the new church's antiphonal seating -- placing the altar in the middle and the congregation on opposite sides, facing one another and the celebrant.

"It was quite a change from the original church's traditional design," said Brian Liedlich, a parishioner from Barrington who served on the campaign. "Father Jack's hope was that facing each other -- and all in the congregation being located nearer the ambo and altar -- would make us more of a community."

Cardinal Joseph Bernardin approved the design concept and in April 2000, Cardinal Francis George dedicated the new church.

"Father Jack had, as many have described, the 'heart of a shepherd,'" Liedlich added. "His focus was always on making all feel welcomed and included as part of the St. Anne Community."

Visitation will take place from 3:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday, before a funeral Mass takes place at 10 a.m. Monday. Both will take place at St. Anne Church, 120 Ela St. in Barrington. Services also will be livestreamed, at: www.stannebarrington.org.

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