Phil Weiler  
Profiles in Catholicism
An Interview with Phil Weiler

by Gordon Nary

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  Your position aSenior Executive Director, Marketing and Brand Management at University of Illinois at Chicago  provides OLMC with special insights into some of the issues relative to branding and faith that have been discussed in the media and at the OLMC Parish Transformation meetings. There have been a number of reports in the media on how Pope Francis has changed the brand or is in the process of rebranding the Catholic church. In your opinion, do churches have a brand, and if so, what are the factors that contribute to that brand? 

  Some people are uncomfortable using the term “brand” when talking about the Catholic Church and I can understand why.  It sounds like we’re trying to sell our faith like you would sell a box of laundry detergent. 

However, when you unpack the meaning of the word, the idea of a brand makes sense for the Church.  An organization’s brand is its core essence, its reason for being.  It describes what members of the organization value and how they should act. 

In John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “A new command I give you:  love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this, everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another."

We are challenged to be known as Christians by our love.  It seems clear that Pope Frances embraces that concept and is working to renew the Catholic Church’s commitment to that brand promise.

Gordon:   Do parishes have a brand, and if so, what are the factors that contribute to that brand?
Phil:   Parishes have unique characteristics that make them better suited to meet the spiritual needs of different groups of parishioners.  That’s a good thing.  But, at the end of day, all parishes need to be true to the core essence of what it means to be Catholic.
Gordon:   In you opinion, what is Our Lady of Mount Carmel's  brand?


The Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Academy offers the parish a built-in sense of family.  It represents a wellspring of vitality, energy and hope for the future.

The OLMC choirs and sacred music program elevate our prayers and draw us closer to God.  Hearing the performers give glory to God through their music is a transcendent experience.

Together the school and music program are the crown jewels of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

Gordon:   When and why did you join OLMC?


I joined the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish as soon as I arrived in Chicago last summer.  As a product of Catholic grade school, high school and two years of Catholic college, my parish community has always been an important part of my life.

I wanted to get plugged into the OLMC parish family as soon as I arrived.  Fr. Pat was kind enough to invite me to join the Parish Transformation Committee.  That turned out to be a great way to get to know my fellow OLMC parishioners. '


Gordon:   You have been appointed to the OLMC Parish Pastoral Council. What is the mission of the Council?


From my perspective, the parish council plays two key roles. First, we are asked to provide advice and counsel to the pastor.  We serve as Fr. Pat’s sounding board. 

Second, we are charged with helping carry out the many plans being generated to make Our Lady of Mt. Carmel an even greater parish.  This is our parish community and, as parishioners, it is collectively our responsibility to nurture and grow it.  The priests and staff of OLMC can only do so much.  It’s up to us to realize the potential of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

Gordon:   How often does the Council meet?
Phil:   The Parish Pastoral Council meets on the second Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. 
Gordon:   How does the Archdiocese interact with the Council?
Phil:   The Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish Pastoral Council is actually a new group.  We met for the first time earlier this spring.  So far, our interactions have been focused internally on the parish itself.  We have not yet had significant interaction with the Archdiocese.
Gordon:   As a transplanted Oregonian, what are some of the resources of Chicago that you enjoy most?
Phil:   I moved to Chicago from Eugene, Oregon just about a year ago.  During that time, I’ve been constantly amazed at all the incredible things you can do in Chicago that are absolutely free!  Whether it’s concerts at Pritzker Pavilion, movies in the park, visiting the Lincoln Park Zoo, Illinois resident days at the museums or skating on the Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon, there is always something to keep you busy
Gordon:   What are some of your favorite restaurants in Chicago?


I’m going to have to turn to my fellow parishioners for help with this one.  Chicago has so many outstanding restaurants and my wife and I are still learning our way around this foodie heaven.  We are always on the lookout for a good recommendation.

We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary with a special dinner at Girl and the Goat  last summer.  They had something on the menu called “Duck Tongue.”  We ordered it because we wanted to try something out of the ordinary and, of course, it wouldn’t be real duck tongue.   

Well, the joke was on us.  The food arrived, and sure enough, it was genuine duck tongue.  (It made for an interesting dish.  We’re not sure we need to order it again.)

If you have favorite restaurant, please be sure to grab us after Mass and pass along the suggestion.  We’d love to hear it!


Gordon:   Thank you for the interview, especially your insights into branding and the Church. I hope that some of our readers who may be interested in this topic, subscribe to the
UC Newsletter on Marketing and Brand Management: