Benedictine Sisters of Chicago march to reclaim their neighborhood

My daughter Mary Grace spent four years walking from Howard Street two blocks south on Ridge Avenue to St. Scholastica Academy, her high school. Although nearby areas in south Evanston and further east in Rogers Park certainly had some problems with crime, we never had any concerns with the short walk in the area dominated by the monastery of the Benedictine Sisters of Chicago and the all girls Catholic high school founded and run by that order.

That peaceful neighborhood was rocked two weeks ago when 18-year-old Antonio Johnson, of Evanston, was chased down, shot and killed in front of the St. Scholastica monastery.

The sisters, who have been in Rogers Park since 1906, and socially active on a number of issues, conducted a silent prayer walk and a blessing with holy water at the site of the shooting. They were joined by community members on Wednesday to retrace Johnson’s final steps.

“We reclaim this space for non-violence,” said Sister Benita Coffey. “We’re still women of peace, living community life here and wanting desperately for this neighborhood to become a place of peace.”

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Show the love in downtown Evanston!

Downtown Evanston - Show the Love!

More than 3 dozen downtown Evanston businesses are participating in a fun giveaway. Come to the Hilton Orrington plaza (intersection of Orrington and Church) at 12:30 pm on Saturday, February 13, for a chance to catch a heart-shaped parachute with a surprise gift from a local business. According to

You might walk away with Giordano’s “golden tickets” (dinner for two), a coupon for jewelry at Ayla’s Originals, free classes to Pure Barre and Exhale Evanston, tickets to the movies, a gift certificate for a bouquet at FlowersFlowers, coupons to Becky and Me Toys, or a gift card to enjoy a delicious meal at Found, Bistro Bordeaux, Creperie Saint Germain and much, much more. One lucky person will catch a free night at the Hilton Orrington!

For more information on participating businesses, visit

Afterward, shop and dine in downtown Evanston to help raise money for Foundation 65, an organization that provides arts and literacy grants to District 65 schools. Check out the Valentine’s specials listed below. Please note that businesses with an asterisk on the website are donating a portion of sales on February 13 and/or 14 to Foundation 65.

Springtime snow in Chicago

Springtime in Chicago

At long last, spring officially arrived in Chicago on Saturday, the vernal equinox. Or at least it did according to the calendar. Unfortunately, Mother Nature forgot to check the calendar and treated us to some very winter-like weather today.

The forecast is for above-freezing temperatures tomorrow and Wednesday before dropping again at the end of the week, so with any luck, our Winter Wonderland will be gone before the cold weather returns.2015-03-23 09.35.21