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March 27, 2011

A White Sox fan north of Madison Street

By Dolores Madlener

STAFF WRITER

Interviewee

Father Paul Seaman, pastor of St. Pascal Parish, 3935 N. Melvina Ave., joins Cardinal George in the Eucharistic Prayer during Mass in March 2010. Cardinal George attended St. Pascal Grade School on Chicago's northwest side before entering the seminary. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World

He is: Father Paul Seaman, Dean of Vicariate 4-A, and pastor of St. Pascal Parish on the North Side after three assignments on the South Side. Ordained in 1985.

North vs South: “I was in the suburbs for 19 years. Now I can walk to the cleaners, the grocery store, the bank or a restaurant. That’s enjoyable. I’ve never been a Cubs fan. I am very much a White Sox fan. But if the Cubs ever win a World Series, I’ll cheer for them. You’d be surprised how many Sox fans came out of the closet since I moved here nearly six years ago.”

Growing up:  “I went to Assumption School at 60th and Marshfield for my first three grades. There were 150 kids in the school, and we had split grades. It was an excellent educational environment. Then in fourth, we moved to St. Thomas More, where there were at least 150 kids per grade! Was I an altar server? Of course, and a darn good one.” 

Family: He has one brother and four sisters, all in the Chicago area. “My parents have run away from home to live in Florida. It makes visiting them all the better.
“Dad was an attorney and held different jobs with city and state government, as well as in private practice. Mom died when I was six. My parents met in law school. Mom was one of two women in her graduating class at John Marshall. She was Lutheran and converted. My father has been remarried for 45 years, and married another saint! Our family has been blessed.”

Priesthood: “Honestly, I can remember thinking about it as early as second grade. Father Mike Cepon, pastor at Assumption, had a passion for church and parish. As a little kid I could see that. The fact my mother died, starts you thinking of bigger questions than any six-year-old should have to.”

Prayer life: “I make a yearly retreat. I love Stritch Retreat House at Mundelein. On a cold winter’s day, it’s warm, they have those lazy boy chairs and you’re able to sit there with a book, or pray and refresh yourself. It’s inviting and peaceful.”

Relaxation: “On my day off I get together with friends, priests and non-priests – try to work out -- enjoy classic movies. I’ve recently read “The First Family,” about John and Abigail Adams by Joseph Ellis, and “The Future Church” by John Allen. Musically I prefer the Chicago Symphony Orchestra or the Illinois Philharmonic out in the South Suburbs – and jazz.”

Plays alto sax: “Prior to priesthood I used to be a jazz musician. I worked my way through seminary with a group called the Big Band Machine, now known as the City Lights Orchestra. Rich Daniels, the leader, Mike Moore and I, started that band in 1974 when I was in Quigley. We were oddballs in high school. We knew the names of all the band members in Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra in 1938, while everybody else was following Reggie Jackson and all the sports guys. We found our niche in this great music and were able to do things, that, when I look back now – what were teenagers doing producing their own concerts?”

Favorite saints: Oscar Romero. I think he’s one of those powerful examples of what it is to follow Jesus. St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a very wealthy woman and generous in the extreme. St. Thomas More, another one of those stand-up kind of guys. As a kid, for a school assignment, I asked my dad if I was named for Paul the Apostle, or Paul of the Cross. And he answered, “Neither, you were named for St. Paul Sheridan, Alderman of the 16th Ward.”  That’s South Side catechesis.