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Summer has arrived and in the world of Catholic Match Nation that can
only mean one thing—CM Chicago is upon us! For the past two years, CM
members have converged on the Windy City in summertime for friendship,
fun and faith—and the third edition of this grand spectacle promises to
be the best one yet.



CM Chicago occupies a unique place on
the landscape in two different ways. It fills a key geographic niche.
Quality CM events having been held or are being held in St. Louis,
Milwaukee, and Detroit. Without the Windy City, there would be hole
ripped right in the heart of the Midwest. Another niche is the style CM
Chicago
employs.



As the CM Gatherings movement has grown and developed in recent years,
there have been different event “styles” and approaches that have
emerged, whether by design or by chance. One approach is to hold
mid-sized events every few months in a selected area. The strength of
these is that it keeps the cost of the event down, while still making
it a noteworthy activity on the calendar. A prime example of this is
what has emerged in the Washington D.C. area. Another style is that
where a group of members who are close do smaller activities throughout
the year, and then stage one open national event to show off their city
and community. The CM community in Boston springs to mind. Each
approach fills a valuable niche. But there’s one niche missing—the
“once-a-year, let’s have a big blowout bash that no one will ever
forget” kind of style. And that’s where CM Chicago comes in.



Under the organized and creative leadership of Tracy-57589, CM Chicago
takes the party up to a new level. From the Friday night trolley ride
through the streets of the Windy City to the beautiful Sea Dog Cruise
on Lake Michigan on Saturday night to the informal parties that take
place when the planned activities are done, there’s no shortage of
opportunities for members to have an unforgettable weekend in America’s
third-largest city.



Though it’s a blowout bash today, CM Chicago was off to rocky start in
2005. The event’s initial plans hit a bump in the road and volunteer
leadership was needed. Tracy, a resident of northern Illinois, stepped
up to the plate. “I took the bull by the horns and ran with it”, she
recalls with a laugh. “I’ve created a monster ever since. The ’05 event
drew twenty-six people—while that’s not a huge number by current
standards, it’s good for a first-time event. Tracy came back for
another try in ’06, and attendance more then doubled. Numbers are not
final for this year, but all appearances are that the ’07 event will at
least match, if not exceed, last year.



Putting together an event of this magnitude is never easy, and the
experience has led Tracy to make a valuable contribution to help others
plan their own events. Recently, she provided a comprehensive
event-planning document to 4marks explaining how to plan a CM
Gathering, and what to watch out for. This document is presently being
designed for the web and will appear as part of the Events Calendar in
the very near future.



The effort is always worth it in the end, because of the impact it has
on those who attend. Bringing Catholics together who might not
otherwise meet is a noble effort that several members have done, and
the Catholic Match community is indebted to all who have done so. CM
Chicago has had a positive influence on the lives of those who have
attended. One such member is Christina-50555. The native of northern
Indiana made last year’s gathering her first CM event and found it to
be everything she had hoped for—“It was the beatitudes, live and in
person”, she said. “The one thing that really stands out in my mind is
all of the CM Gentlemen were so willing and eager to help those in our
group who had physical challenges. It was not easy for some members to
get around the city and to some activities without the help of
others."  "It really showed me that there are very kind,
compassionate, Catholic gentlemen right here on CM and any of us Ladies
would be blessed to have one of them in our lives.”



Christina is one of several members who went to their first CM event as
a visitor and later gone on to help plan an event of their own. She is
a vital part of the planning process for CM Irishfest , an event that
will be just up the I-94 interstate in Milwaukee this August. Earlier
this year, a CM event was held in Florida—an event that was spawned
after the organizer was inspired by attending the ’06 version of CM
Chicago. The activities these members plan will inspire still others,
and the river will keep flowing forward. Chicago’s grand bash leaves a
legacy all its own.

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