“My brother took classes at Moraine Valley and liked it, so I drove out to take a look. I swear, back then, there was nothing out there,” Vicki Quade said. When she attended in the early 1970s, she spent much of her time in one of the temporary buildings on campus as a reporter for the college newspaper. “The “Glacier” was in a little trailer. I really loved it,” she said.
Shortly after starting at Moraine Valley Community College, Quade’s father was in a serious car accident. Despite this tragedy, she stayed in school and joined the “Glacier” as a reporter. In addition to gaining valuable skills for her future journalism career, the “Glacier” created unexpected opportunities for her. Quade recalled how one assignment helped her with her tuition.
“I went to do an article on the Financial Aid Office, and the woman who ran the department asked me, ‘What’s your story?’ I said I was working three jobs. So she asked me, ‘What assistance do you get from your parents?’” When Quade mentioned her father’s accident, “She stopped the interview, took out some paperwork and had me fill it out,” Quade said. She ended up getting a grant for much of her tuition.
Quade believes her stint as a reporter and editor on the “Glacier” helped her get started as a professional journalist. “It was huge. The head of student activities called me into her office and said, ‘There’s a freelance job for the “Star Tribune Newspaper.” I think you should take it because you clearly have talent.’ I called, and the editor hired this young writer to be a freelance reporter. That job gave me the clips I needed to get other jobs. You can definitely see the importance of writing for the “Glacier” newspaper,” Quade said.
Quade earned her associate degree and transferred to Northern Illinois University, where she also worked on a campus paper. After graduating, she worked on various daily newspapers until 1981, when she was hired by the American Bar Association to write for their trade journal. She later moved to their publishing division.
“I became an editor for some of their publications,” she said. As editor of their magazine, “Human Rights,” she once devoted an issue to religion and the law. “I covered the aging of the sisterhood and looked at how the law protected nuns,” she said. As a correspondent for “Newsweek,” she also wrote a story on the aging of the sisterhood. “I was happy to take it because I knew a lot of nuns and could contact them,” Quade noted.
Growing up, she attended a Catholic school, and her family was friends with several nuns. They even let the nuns from her parish borrow their car. “My mom would say, ‘The nuns are coming over.’ I knew them outside of school, so they meant a lot to me,” Quade said. This friendship and her research on the sisterhood later proved beneficial in her next career move.
In 1993, Quade’s friend, Maripat Donovan, was an actor who needed a script for an upcoming performance. “We talked through my idea, which was to have this one-person show about a nun teaching a catechism class, bringing in recollections people have about growing up Catholic and being in Catholic school. I wrote it in three weeks,” she said.
The show was scheduled to run for six weeks at 11 o’clock at night. “That’s why it’s called “Late Nite Catechism”,” Quade explained. They were not sure if people would find the show funny, but they did. After the “Chicago Tribune” gave it a great review, “Late Nite Catechism” became the longest running religious comedy in Chicago history. The show also has raised over $3 million dollars for the retirement funds of various orders of nuns.
“We ask the audience to kick in a buck or two at the end of the show, and we do shows where the money goes to different orders of nuns,” Quade said. She has written and produced several shows since, and even performs in her “Bingo” shows. Quade’s shows have been performed at Moraine Valley’s Fine and Performing Arts Center numerous times over the years.
Quade recently completed a book on her interesting daily experiences called “Close Encounters of a Chicago Kind,” published by Eckhartz Press. She hopes to turn a few of the stories in the book into a performance piece. “That’s something to work on – for next year,” she said.
A 2015 inductee of Moraine Valley’s Alumni Hall of Fame, Quade hopes people will continue to support the Foundation in its effort to help students. Looking back over her career, she noted, “Moraine Valley certainly helped me.”