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Kudos to St. Mary of Gostyn

As part of their Year of the Priest celebration, students and faculty at St. Mary of Gostyn, a Catholic grade school in Chicagoland, organized both a Hearts From Home Fun Fair and an Out of Uniform Day. During the Fun Fair, fairgoers could play bingo, have their face painted, play any number of fun and challenging games, or go on a cake walk. All proceeds went to the Compadres. On Out of Uniform Day, students could dress as they wanted if they paid $1. Students who chose to participate would receive a camouflage heart sticker to wear in exchange for their $1, with these monies also going to the Compadres. As part of the celebration, a School Mass was said in Spanish by Father Bill Cullen with the school choir singing in Spanish as well. This is a great example of a school being creative with a Hearts From Home fundraiser. The Compadres appreciate this awesome effort.

Click on photos to enlarge

At the Bingo table

At the cupcake walk

Just plain fun

Compadres exhibit

Bingo advice?

the Duck Game

Student Council members
w/ Fr. John Phan


7th and 8th grade volunteers

Hearts From Home 2009

Here are the schools that represent, for us, the gift that keeps on giving, year in, year out. Some of these schools raise funds on a regular basis (as you can see from our previous listings), and some are new to the Compadres. And LOOK! A school from WEST GROVE, PENNSYLVANIA. VIVA to all of our wonderful gift-givers and their teachers and administrators, who take the time to organize HEARTS FROM HOME.

Saint James School Highwood, IL
Queen of the Rosary School Elk Grove Village, IL
Our Lady of Grace School Chicago, IL
Assumption BVM School West Grove, PA
St. Michael School Orland Park, IL
St. Cornelius School Chicago, IL
St. Alexander School Palos Heights, IL
Saint Joseph School Round Lake, IL
Visitation School Chicago, IL
St. Rita High School Chicago, IL

To see what these schools provide, click


from Adam McGrath, Saint Rita's Director of Public Relations

St. Rita High Schoolís Spirit Day was held on Wednesday, December 5th, aiming to raise over $1,200 for the ComPadres. In November, Fr. John Barkemeyer, home for a two-week leave, was the celebrant of St. Ritaís November all-school Mass, and he reminded the school community of the great things their support accomplishes, and how much it means to the men and women serving their country in the Middle East. Last year over 500 students donated the $2.00 fee for St. Ritaís ComPadres Spirit Day, for which they could dress in casual clothes. This year the scho ol hopes to collect even more funds for Fr. Barkemeyer and ComPadres.

ComPadres recently relocated its contact to St. Rita of Cascia High School, and any contributions to ComPadres can be addressed to Fr. Tom McCarthy, who serves as the organizationís spiritual director, at 7740 S. Western Ave. Chicago, IL 60620.

Hearts From Home/Fall '07

Here are the schools that gave to our soldiers this time around. We note this time around that there are a few NEW schools on our list, names we haven't seen before -- and we're grateful for that development.

To see what these schools provide, click

Brother Rice High School
Mount Carmel Mission Club
Our Lady of Tepeyac High School
Saint Albert the Great School
Saint Cajetan
Saint Francis Xavier School
Saint Francis Xavier of LeGrange
Saint John Vianney School
Saint Rita High School
Saint Rita Knights of Augustine

Viva TROOP 11 of Saint Francis Xavier/Wilmette!

MaryClare Birmingham, one of our Wilmette Compadres, describes the October event . . .

The Boy Scouts of Troop 11 feel a special connection to Father Barkemeyer. He is an alumnus of their school, Saint Francis Xavier in Wilmette, Illinois. Whenever Father John is in town, he stops in to talk to the students about his work. But when he made a visit last year just before he left for Iraq, dressed in his Army fatigues, it made a most powerful impression. The Scouts decided to find a way to support Father John in his work, so they reached out to the ComPadres.

The boys hit upon the idea of a fund-raising bike ride to Great Lakes Naval Station as a perfect fit for their Scouting ideals. It would offer an active outdoor challenge and serve American troops. The ride was publicized as open to the public and the Troop collected registration fees from riders. The chaplains at Great Lakes welcomed the initiative and enthusiastically helped with the planning. The event was named The CCC Ride for the ComPadres -- CCC stands for Chaplains Comfort and Care!

The Ride was a huge success. Approximately 50 riders took part, starting out from Maple Park in Wilmette, where Father Johnís parents, Hank and Germaine Barkemeyer, dropped signal flags to start the race. Riders of all ages and abilities participated in the 20-mile ride along the North Shore, led by an amazingly fast foursome of local men. Scout Nate Roberts impressed all by keeping pace with the lead group the entire way, reaching the finish line in just over 90 minutes!

As the weather had changed from overcast to rainy over the course of the ride, the riders were surprised and pleased to find a welcoming party at the finish line. The Boy Scout troops of Great Lakes and North Chicago had put up a tent and were handing out grilled hot dogs and hot chocolate with their congratulations. Chief Navy Chaplain Robert Crall arrived to join the celebration.

The CCC Ride for the ComPadres was a big success in achieving its goals. Besides raising over twelve hundred dollars, it brought the Boy Scouts and the community together in an energetic demonstration of support for U.S. troops. Many thanks to all the riders, the Great Lakes Naval Station chaplains and the local Boy Scout troops, the Troop 11 adult volunteers who helped organize the event, and especially the Boy Scouts of Saint Francis Xavier Troop 11!


Rick Greenfield and the folks at SunGard came up with two fundraising approaches. During the month of September, SunGard employees could 1) choose to purchase items from a tasty assortment of ice cream, candy, chips, and nuts, and 2) purchase a $2 Compadres sticker, which would entitle the bearer to wear jeans or casual clothes for the day. Father John and the soldiers in Al Anbar Province will benefit greatly from the generosity of SunGard employees.

For more on SUNGARD, go to

Hearts From Home/Winter '07
Our Winter "Hearts From Home" provided a much needed boost to Compadres efforts, and we are extremely grateful. I'm sure our soldiers will be more grateful still.

Note that a school from Tulsa, OK (yes, Tulsa) is part of the honor roll this time. Saint Joseph School of Homewood repeats their generosity, having also donated in November. All of our schools again represent all the near and far reaches of Chicagoland.

To see what these donations provide, click

Cascia Hall Preparatory School Tulsa, Oklahoma
Immaculate Conception School Chicago
Mount Assisi Academy Lemont
Queen of the Rosary School Elk Grove Village
Saint Helen School Chicago
Saint James School Highwood
Saint John de la Salle Academy Chicago
Saint Joseph School Round Lake
Saint Joseph School Homewood
Saint Michael School Orland Park
Saint Symphorosa School Chicago
Saint Zachary School Des Plaines
Visitation School Chicago

Hearts From Home/Fall '06
Our November "Hearts From Home" initiative was a big success. KUDOS to the schools (and one Hot Dog brigade) that generously donated. As of now, over $6000 has reached the Compadres, with more to come.

As you scroll down the list of our donating schools, you can see names of schools from both city and suburb, from the far corners of Chicagoland and neighborhoods closer in. To all of these schools (and one Hot Dog brigade) a warm-hearted thanks from the Compadres. May their Christmas hearts be a little warmer this year.

Arbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary Chicago IL
Brother Rice High School Chicago IL
Epiphany School Chicago IL
Holy Trinity High School Chicago IL
Mount Carmel High School Chicago IL
Sacred Heart School Chicago IL
Sacred Heart School Winnetka IL
St. Albert the Great School Burbank IL
St. Angela School Chicago IL
St. Benedict School Blue Island IL
St. Cajetan School Chicago IL
St. Catherine of Alexandria School Oak Lawn
St. Francis Xavier School Wilmette IL
St. James School Highwood IL
St. John Fisher School Chicago IL
St. Joseph School Homewood IL
St. Rita of Cascia High School Chicago IL
St. Thomas of Villanova School Palatine IL
St. William School Chicago IL

And last but not least...
The Northwestern University Hot Dog Brigade of Wilmette

to our "
Accomplishments" page to see how your participation supports the work of Army Chaplains in Iraq and lets our troops know they are never far from our hearts and minds.

Articles in the media
During his first overseas deployment in 2005,Father John wrote a series of 26 articles that were published every few weeks in one of Chicago's daily papers, the Daily Southtown. Many of them are reproduced below. They depict the courage, the fear and frustration, the hope and the faith, that Fr. John saw every day in the soldiers he served. Read one or two... we think you'll come back for more!

We also include articles related to the current conflict that have been published elsewhere.

(all articles are in PDF format, if you do not have the Adobe PDF Reader,
download it here for free )

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