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Literacy Center Seeks Sponsors for Students
The OBSERVER< Catholic Diocese of Rockford, June 4, 2020, AURORA Illinois
Retrieved on Aug 28 2020 from:


Literacy Center Seeks Sponsors for Students
June 4, 2020
AURORA—The Dominican Literacy Center here is conducting an annual Sponsor-a-Student fundraiser.
Sister Kathleen Ryan, OP, center director, said the public is invited to support fall students by donating funds for books and materials. 
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the center in March suspended women’s tutoring in English as a second language, conversation and citizenship classes for men and women.
How to help
Donations may be made by mail or online.
Mail: Dominican Literacy Center,  260 Vermont Ave., Aurora, IL, 60505
Online: (go to the Ways to Help tab and click on the Donate via Mighty Cause button.”
Donations are tax-exempt, and through the recent CARES Act, many limitations on deducting charitable donations have been lifted for 2020.
Info: Sister kathleen Ryan, OP,  630-898-4636 or e-mail
Sister Ryan said, “Our hope and plan is to start classes on Sept. 10. Students who were scheduled to graduate in May will be offered another semester to attend. We will make program modifications because of the COVID-19 restrictions, but we are hopeful that we can creatively brainstorm ways to continue to serve the community as we have in the past.”
She added, “Many of the women who come to our center to learn to read, write and speak English are doing essential work for our country. They are cleaning hospitals and nursing homes, assembling and packing medical supplies for hospitals and bagging groceries. 
“Many are mothers who are helping their children with online schoolwork. We want to be ready in September to reach 200-plus women, helping them to read, write and speak English. 
“To do this, we need books and learning materials, and for this we are asking for your help. We invite you to help us empower more women and families to learn English and become productive and empowered mothers, employees, and community members.”
According to Sister Ryan, a $100 donation will cover the cost of books and learning materials for a student for a year; and $1,000 will cover the cost of one tutor-student pair, including all expenses. 
She added, “Any donation will help more women and their families learn English.” 
Founded in 1993 by the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, the Dominican Literacy Center, offers free English classes to more than 200 immigrant women annually. 
Trained volunteers offer one-on-one tutoring sessions — 90-minutes weekly — to women. 
Additionally, free citizenship classes are offered to men and women. While instruction is free, students are asked to contribute $25 for materials.
The center’s mission is to enable immigrant families to participate in their communities learning to read, write and speak English.
Since its inception, the center has served thousands of Aurora-area residents. 
On the grounds of St. Therese Catholic Church in Aurora, the center has grown from five students and five tutors to 200 students from 16 countries taught by 200 dedicated volunteer tutors annually. 
—  Al Benson, contributor


Rev Michael Miller leaving Aurora for Rome January 2018


Beacon News, by Tom Strong January 26, 2018.  Retrieved from:



Pastor 'sad for leaving' Aurora church as he prepares for work in Rome

The Rev. Michael Miller in his office at St Therese Church in Aurora.
The Rev. Michael Miller in his office at St Therese Church in Aurora. (Tom Strong / The Beacon-News)

When 14-year-old Mike Miller arrived to begin studies at Sacred Heart Seminary in Geneva in 1969, it was the beginning of his journey to the priesthood.

But it was also the beginning of several journeys around the world as a priest of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. The order has ministered to people in 54 countries since its founding in 1854.


Known as "Father Mike" to his parishioners, Miller will finish his 12½-year pastorate at Aurora's St. Therese Church in February. He will leave to begin an assignment as Secretary General of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart at the order's headquarters in Rome.

As a youth in Dearborn, Michigan, his interest in the Missionaries was sparked by two of his uncles, one a priest with the group, and another a brother. His arrival as a youngster in Geneva marked the beginning of a circuitous route which eventually led back to the Fox Valley, and St. Therese, in 2005.



The Geneva seminary closed in 1972 after Miller's junior year, and he finished high school at a prep seminary in Watertown, New York. Among his activities there, he remembered with a smile that he "played varsity football on special teams and made many solo tackles."


Undergraduate college years were next in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, and the College of St. Francis de Sales. Miller graduated from there in 1977, and then traveled to Shelby, Ohio for a one-year novitiate, a time of discernment before taking vows. In 1978, he was invited to take those vows, and then began his studies at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.


In the summer of 1979. he traveled to Bogota, Colombia, where there is a Missionaries of the Sacred Heart mission, to observe and to learn Spanish. That time proved to be invaluable because of Miller's eventual assignment there.

Graduating from the Catholic Theological Union in 1984, he was ordained a deacon, and spent nine months as deacon at Holy Cross Church in Batavia. He was ordained a priest on March 23, 1985, and celebrated Mass the next day on his 30th birthday.

Miller was assigned to a parish in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, for 3½ years, leading up to the biggest assignment in his life of ministering.

"I hadn't used Spanish in 10 years, but in 1989 I was sent to Bogota, Colombia," he said. "I had forgotten most of my Spanish, so I took some additional semesters."


He had five assignments there in 15 years, and has fond remembrances.

"I was happy and wanted to spend the rest of my life there," Miller said. "It was challenging, and I was getting to meet people who really didn't have much in the physical world, but whose faith was important to them. I felt that it was the place God wanted me to be — and that's happiness."

But in 2005, Miller obediently answered the call to succeed the Rev. Joseph Muller at St. Therese Church, which is pastored by the Missionaries order. He has enjoyed his years at the parish.

"St. Therese people are very good people, and I'm sad for leaving," he said. "I've seen some of the kids go from kindergarten to 12th grade. You see people grow, and that's the fun part of being a priest — being part of people's lives in a deeper way."

Miller will soon leave for his new assignment in Rome, and will assist Superior General Absalon Tovar, the world-wide head of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.


His appointment is for six years, and duties will include communications, archives, translations and managing the general house, which in its previous life was the Dutch embassy.

"It comes down to obedience," he said of the new assignment. "If you try to do what God wants, you're going to find happiness."

It is also reflective of Miller's philosophy throughout his many ministries.

"When people are unhappy and angry, it's because they don't know where they want to be," he said. "The Army's 'Be all that you can be' is an OK slogan, but if you keep it out of context with what God wants you to be, the two have to come together. Every day, you should get up and ask 'What does God want me to do today?' That's what our Christian life is all about. When you do things with obedience, you are free."

Tom Strong is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.