Meet Therese Peck, new president of the Christ Child Society of Central Illinois

The newly installed officers of the Christ Child Society of Central Illinois are (from left) Kathy Stomberg, immediate past president; Therese Peck, president; Judy Weber, circle liaison; Carol Romanowski, first vice president; Martha Groeper, treasurer; Elaine Mills, second vice president; Beth Miller, recording secretary; and Father John Verrier, spiritual moderator. Not shown: Becky Fay, corresponding secretary.

As the oldest of 10 children, Therese Peck learned early on to care for little ones in need around her. That continues in retirement, as she begins her two-year term as president of the Christ Child Society of Central Illinois.

“I just thought it was such a nice gift for moms who chose life, especially single moms. It’s such a blessing to have that little basket of things that are handmade for the most part,” Peck said of the nearly 500 layettes prepared by Christ Child Society members and given to 15 hospitals and clinics each year.

“It made me feel good and I thought, ‘Maybe there’s something I can do there,’” she told The Catholic Post.

A member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Peoria, Peck learned about the Christ Child Society of Central Illinois in 2016, while she was reading information about the Annual Diocesan Appeal. A national organization, the local chapter was initiated by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, in 2005 and chartered in 2008.

While she doesn’t sew, Peck said she found plenty to do during the meetings of the Peoria Circle, which meets on the first Wednesday and third Monday of the month in the lower level of the Family Resources Center, 415 N.E. Monroe St. She cuts out receiving blankets and burp cloths, as well as sleep sacks, and puts together layettes as needed, among other things.

Peck invited women who are interested to come and see what the Christ Child Society does. For more information, call (309) 677-7697 or send email to christchildsociety@gmail.com. The website can be found at christchildsociety.blogspot.com.

It wasn’t long before Peck was recruited to serve on the board and was first vice president to Kathy Stomberg for the last two years. Stomberg, a member of St. Anthony in Bartonville, remains involved as board adviser.

The board also includes Carol Romanowski of St. Vincent de Paul, first vice president; Elaine Mills of St. Philomena in Peoria, second vice president; Martha Groeper of St. Philomena, treasurer; Becky Fay of Holy Family in Peoria, corresponding secretary; and Beth Miller of St Mary in El Paso, recording secretary. They direct the work of the chapter’s 52 members in the El Paso-Bloomington Circle and Pontiac-Dwight Circle, as well as the Peoria Circle.

In addition to providing layettes to hospitals, which distribute them according to need, the Christ Child Society of Central Illinois fosters child literacy.

STRONG NAME

While she was baptized at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, Peck’s family relocated to Marquette Heights and were members of Sacre Coeur Parish in Creve Coeur, where she attended grade school. When the family moved to Pekin, they joined St. Joseph Parish and she went to Pekin High School.

Peck studied at Illinois Central College for two years and then started her long career at CEFCU (Citizens Equity First Credit Union). Over the course of nearly 39 years, she would work as a teller, receptionist and secretary to three presidents.

Since retiring in 2012, she has traveled abroad with a group of women who also retired at about the same time and has enjoyed it. Their next trip will take them to France this summer.

Retirement has also given her an opportunity to be more involved in her parish, where she can be found at Mass on most mornings. Peck also serves as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, takes the Eucharist to two area nursing homes, and has helped with a couple of Lenten retreats.

One of the things she speaks about with great joy is the Walking with Purpose Bible Study she helps to coordinate. About 50 women participate in the morning and evening sessions.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” Peck told The Post. “It’s good to get everybody’s perspective and I’ve gotten to know some of the women of the parish.”

She is also part of the Cursillo community, having made her weekend in 2003.

But she has another connection to her Catholic faith. Born on Oct. 7, the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, she was named Therese Lisieux, whose feast day is Oct. 1.

“I don’t think I really, truly appreciated it until later in life, when I got to read more about her and her life and thinking what a special name it was,” Peck said. “I try to keep her at the top of my prayer list. . . . I feel very blessed to be able to carry that name.”

The proud mother of a grown son and daughter, she treasures the time she gets to spend with her two grandsons.

What Peck has come to appreciate about the Christ Child Society and wants to share with others is the opportunity to help mothers.

“It’s such a special time in most women’s lives. Here’s this brand new baby and you want them to have something nice and clean, something new,” she said. “All of these items are made especially for them.”

Peck invited women who are interested to come and see what the Christ Child Society does. For more information, call (309) 677-7697 or send email to christchildsociety@gmail.com. The website can be found at christchildsociety.blogspot.com.

 

 

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