The Rev. Richard LaPata was praised for 20 years of service to the Columbian Club of Chicago at the organization’s installation gala in January. First Vice President Mark Corrado delivered the following remarks before calling Fr. LaPata to the podium to accept an award:
“Fr. LaPata came to know the Dominicans as a student at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois. Little did he know on his first day at Fenwick he would soon enter the Order of Preachers. Following graduation in 1950, young Dick LaPata joined dozens of classmates at the University of Notre Dame. After two years in South Bend, he entered the Order of Preachers, taking the Dominican habit as a novice in Winona, Minnesota, in the summer of 1952 and making his first profession on August 31, 1953. He completed his study of Philosophy at the House of Studies in River Forest, and his study of Theology at the College of St. Rose in Dubuque. There, he was ordained a priest on May 23, 1959.
“Fr. LaPata’s first priestly assignment took him back to Fenwick High School in 1961. In 1963, he and some of his fellow Dominicans opened Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas. After two years, he joined the faculty at Loras College in Dubuque and, again two years later, he became chaplain and faculty member at Edgewood College in Madison.
“Father returned to Chicago in 1975 to serve as Associate and then Pastor at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church in River Forest. In 1991, he began a 7-year ministry as chaplain at Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village.
While at Alexian Brothers, Father LaPata accepted a position on the Board at Fenwick High School. Fellow board members selected him to serve as Fenwick’s President in 1999. Following nearly a decade of remarkable accomplishments as President, Father stepped aside to serve his beloved Fenwick as President Emeritus, a position he held faithfully until this past summer.
“In November 2018, Father was honored by the Dominican Friars with the prestigious Great Preacher Award.
“Father joined our organization as our chaplain in 1998. Over the years he has prayed with us, broke bread with us, inspired and consoled us. He has laughed with us and often rolled his eyes when the jokes weren’t the cleanest. He has led us at days of recollection, club retreats, served on our scholarship committee and currently presides over our Family Mass and leads us in prayer at our monthly board meetings. Our club and foundation is truly blessed to call Father Richard LaPata our brother and chaplain. Father can you please come up to the stage and accept this plaque which represents our thanks to you for your service and dedication to all the members of the Columbian Club of Chicago.”