In the News

In the Sunday, February 17, 2008 Southtown Star, Rev. Condon was featured in an article about married priests.


Condon's story  
by Rena Fulka

 Condon is a Chicago native whose interest in the priesthood began during childhood with a makeshift altar, an egg cup and a Ritz cracker. 
  He entered the seminary after grade school, was ordained in 1967, and spent the bulk of his ministry in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. 
   Frustrated with missionary work, Condon left the Oblates of Mary Immaculate four years later and returned to the Chicago suburbs. 
   "I applied to Rome for a laicization to free me of my vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but it doesn't deny I'm still a priest," Condon said. 
   Condon worked for a year as an education coordinator for the Illinois Migrant Council in Chicago Heights and spent the next 33 years at Respond Now, a nonprofit providing food, clothing and rental assistance for the poor. 
   Condon joined Rent A Priest in 1996 when a friend's son needed a minister to officiate at his wedding. 
   "I didn't realize there were opportunities to get back into ministry," Condon said. 
   "There are more than 100 married priests in the Chicago area, and some like the opportunity to still be of service. I'm still exercising my priesthood to the degree I'm able." 
   Condon, who retired from Respond Now in 2006, conducts up to 30 weddings a year. Some of the couples are of different faiths. 
   "They come to me, as well as many other married priests, because they have a relationship with the Catholic faith, through their own person or through their family, and want to get married in a park or banquet hall. A local priest wouldn't be able to do it, so they search me out," Condon said.  
   "A family with no connection to a parish may want to placate mom or grandma. We're there to maintain that Catholic connection the family has had for years and years." 
   Condon's wife, Magdalena, whom he married in 1992, designed and sewed his liturgical stoles. 
   She attends most Rent A Priest weddings, but does not help with the ceremony. 
   The Condons are members of St. Irenaeus Roman Catholic Church in Park Forest, and are affiliated with a home church group that conducts monthly communal liturgies. 

   The Rev. Dennis Condon, former executive director of Respond Now in Chicago Heights, is among the married men on the Rent A Priest roster. His ministry is certified by Celibacy is the Issue, Federation of Christian Ministries and Frankfort-based International Council of Community Churches. 
   The weddings, funerals, baptisms, home liturgies and marriage-vow renewals Condon conducts are not sanctioned by the Catholic Church, and all must take place outside an actual Catholic Church building. 
   "I tell people from the get-go that whatever I do for them is not recognized by the Catholic Church. I don't come off on any false pretenses," said Condon, who was a Spanish-speaking padre with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in the late 1960s. 
   "For a wedding to be official in the eyes of the church, it must take place within the confines of a Catholic church." 
   There are many other requirements for a sanctioned marriage, some of which vary from one diocese to the next. 
   Those most likely to seek Rent A Priest services are Catholics who no longer attend Mass, a segment representing 73.3 percent of the American Catholic population, according to Celibacy is the Issue. 
   Loli and Al DiSanto, of Chicago's Lakeview community, wanted their wedding ceremony to be intimate and out-of-the-norm. 
   "We both grew up Catholic and went to Catholic schools, but we didn't have any one church we wanted to go to. And we don't go to church every Sunday," Loli DiSanto said. 
   "We thought it would be so romantic to be married on the lake next to the (Adler) Planetarium, but none of the priests we grew up with could marry us outside the church." 
   At their caterer's suggestion, the couple hired Condon, who offers an ecumenical, non-judgmental ministry throughout Chicago and Northwest Indiana. 
   "For us, our wedding wasn't a Catholic thing," DiSanto said. "It was about our relationship, the union of me and Al and committing our lives to each other. We wanted to get away from the 100-percent Catholic ceremony." 
   DiSanto said Condon sent them a packet of premarital information, met with them several times before the ceremony and allayed their pre-wedding jitters. 
   "We got to pick and choose and put together our entire ceremony ourselves, and we still get compliments on how beautiful, unique and touching our wedding was," she said. 
   Two years later, the couple hired Condon to baptize their daughter Lorelei.                               
   "We had the baptism outside in the backyard with a fountain and a baptismal candle," DiSanto said.
   "We had just moved into a new house we had built, and we had the house blessed and the baby baptized on the same day." 
   DiSanto refers Condon to relatives and friends and said she most likely will call on him again. 
   "We spent a lot of time with Rev. Condon, and we're getting to know his wife. He's part of our family now," DiSanto said. 
   "It's nice to be able to turn to a priest who's also married and who understands the ins and outs of daily living. Sometimes you can't turn to your parents or in-laws because they are no longer living. So it's nice to be able to turn to a person of faith who is married and can give advice." 
   But can the couple ever re-join the Catholic church? 
   "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," DiSanto said. 
   "The Catholic church is supposed to be all-forgiving. If someone does not welcome me as a member of their community because my marriage was not sanctified inside the walls of the church, then I'm not sure I want to be a member of that community."

Rena Fulka can be reached at or (708) 802-8829. 

Courtesy of SouthtownStar Newspapers                                                                                           


You may contact the wedding priest by calling Dennis at (708) 481-6078 or by e-mailing 


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