OVERVIEW / HISTORY:
Chicago’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese or Archdiocese of Chicago was once the largest and most populous diocese in the nation with the most parishes and largest parochial school system. Comprised of hundreds of magnificent church buildings, often on the grand scale, these were designed by some of America’s greatest architects and most recognized architectural firms. The Chicago area, with 2.2 million Catholics, still stands as one of the largest concentrations of Catholics in the United States.
The Archdiocese of Chicago represents an enviable assemblage of ethnic-National parishes and more mainstream parishes.
The church buildings which have made Preservation Chicago’s 7 Most Endangered List for 2019 are both gateways and landmarks in their communities and a great source of pride, stemming back to their inception—often built with the pennies, nickels and dimes of the Faithful. These structures were then given to an institution, including the Archdiocese of Chicago, to care for, maintain, staff and steward. In recent years, this has proven to be a challenging task.
Over the past three decades, the Archdiocese of Chicago and its holdings have been substantially trimmed and reduced, with many religious buildings closed and merged, along with school closings, which have often left communities without their cherished houses of worship and a building vacant and devastated. The Archdiocese of Chicago has seen successive waves of church closings or consolidations. Nearly 30 years ago under then-archbishop Joseph Cardinal Benardin, a wave of church closings and consolidations swept through the city shuttering more than 40 churches and parochial schools.
In 2016, news broke that by 2030 the Archdiocese of Chicago will have a rapidly decreasing number of priests serving, with the rate of retirement far exceeding new ordinations.
Six years ago, Chicago’s neighborhoods saw almost 50 public schools shuttered. Now some of the same neighborhoods will see their parish churches closed or consolidated. Communities are often defined by their church and school institutions. With both the schools and churches in some neighborhoods closing, residents could be left with large, vacant former community hubs to contend with.
Cardinal Blaise Cupich has directed a new program called “Renew Your Church” which has caused a re-evaluation of the many churches and religious buildings that have historically been anchors of the city’s communities. This has brought about new discussions of massive closings, projected to be 75 to 100 buildings and parishes across Chicago which are to be merged, consolidated, closed, sold and perhaps demolished. Financial issues and an expected priest shortage have been cited as reasons for why this is happening. This is devastating to many beyond the Faithful to lose these magnificent buildings and structures which were to be built for the ages.
This is nothing less than a tragedy, impacting whole communities and cities across the nation. Despite a predicted shortage of religious personnel and other on-going issues, these buildings and community landmarks could have a better future. Led by community input and with public-private partnerships, advocates can pool resources together – including Landmark designation – to keep these buildings alive. After all, these buildings and parishes are more than religious centers, but also community centers—hosting neighborhood meetings, food pantries, daycare, family and addiction counseling, educational facilities and warming centers in the most inclement weather. We can collectively do better and want to spotlight these amazing buildings that are both Chicago and world treasures.
It is now apparent that a wave of church closings is imminent. With an estimated 75 Catholic churches expected to close or consolidate over the next 10 years, this current restructuring of the Archdiocese of Chicago would be almost twice as large as the 1990 restructuring under then-archbishop Joseph Cardinal Benardin.
Many of the churches targeted first for closure are the oldest and largest buildings and have higher operating costs; not surprisingly, this number includes many of Chicago’s most architecturally and historically significant churches.
Currently there are 19 churches threatened with their doors being shuttered. For generations these churches served as spiritual centers and anchors to their parishes and neighborhoods. A majority of the churches are located on the South Side.
The following churches have been added to the rapidly growing Preservation Chicago Endangered Church Watch List (listed by location North to South):
St. Thomas of Canterbury
St. Mary of the Lake
St. Stanislaus Kostka
Notre Dame de Chicago
St. Adalbert (listed twice on Chicago 7 list in 2014, 2016)
St. Therese Chinese Catholic Church and School
St. Jerome Croatian
All Saints – St. Anthony
Santa Lucia – Santa Maria Incoronata
St. Mary of Perpetual Help
Nativity of Our Lord
St. Michael Archangel
Most of these churches are either Red or Orange coded in the Chicago Historic Resources Survey (CHRS). In the CHRS, a color-coded ranking system was used to identify historic and architectural significance relative to age, degree of external physical integrity and level of possible significance.
The CHRS defines Red-coded properties as buildings which “possess some architectural feature or historical association that made them potentially significant in the broader context of the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois or the United States of America.”
The CHRS defines Orange-coded properties as buildings which “possess some architectural feature or historical association that made them potentially significant in the context of the surrounding community.”
Despite their high ranking in the color-coded ranking system of the CHRS — ranking which proves the buildings are of high architectural and historical significance — most of the 19 churches are not designated landmarks.
Due to a 1987 amendment introduced by then Alderman Burt Natarus requiring church owner consent to Landmark a building, only a handful of Chicago churches are designated Chicago Landmarks.
Because the churches lack Chicago Landmark or Landmark District designation, there is little available to protect them.
Since 2003, dozens of important houses of worship throughout Chicago have either been demolished or significantly altered. The loss of these incredible churches diminishes the character of the surrounding communities.
Three years ago, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich wrote in the archdiocesan newspaper Catholic New World: “Demographics have shifted dramatically. Some of our parish buildings are in disrepair. We have fewer priests to pastor our faith communities. The result is that we end up spreading our resources too thinly. We should not be afraid to face these realities.” (https://abc7.ws/2Ej6cyx)
Preservation Chicago is committed to ensuring the preservation of Chicago’s religious legacy. It will:
• Continue to proactively monitor vacant and abandoned religious structures throughout the city.
• Continue to oppose inappropriate “preservation” solutions like “façadism” and building deconstruction and relocation.
• Continue to pressure the city to amend the Chicago Landmarks Ordinance which currently allows owners of houses of worship to opt out of the Landmarks Ordinance.
• Propose and advocate for policies that will encourage the restoration and repurposing of houses of worship.
In April of 2018 the City Council Zoning Committee approved Alderman Brian Hopkins’s ordinance to fine property owners $1,000 to $2,000 for letting historic properties or those within Landmark Districts deteriorate (http://bit.ly/2GUQgEx). Preservation Chicago advocates for the City Council’s formal enactment of Alderman Hopkins’s ordinance with respect to demolition by neglect. While the future for many of Chicago’s Catholic churches is unknown, the city should proactively protect these architecturally and historically significant churches which are neighborhood landmarks and gathering places. Hopefully, with a strong ordinance in place, parishioners and preservationists would be allowed time to select the highest and best use for the many churches now projected to be closed.
According to canon law of the Catholic Church, if two or more parishes are merged the new combined parish may adopt a new name. While it may seem a small thing to some, Preservation Chicago recommends keeping the historic names of the Catholic churches, if possible. A name carries a lot of meaning. It can help tell the rich history of the neighborhood and parish.
Landmarks Illinois, our sister organization, has stated “many buildings that trigger a demolition delay due to their inclusion in the CHRS are architecturally significant but don’t meet more than one of two required criteria for landmark designation due to lack of information regarding its original owner or architect. Yet these buildings often contribute to a neighborhood’s economy, historic streetscape, scale and character.” Preservation Chicago advocates for the City Council to amend the Chicago Landmarks Ordinance so that in special cases a Chicago Landmark designation based on one criterion, rather than two criteria, is possible.
Preservation Chicago advocates for Chicago’s Mayor and City Council to support an amendment to the Chicago Landmarks Ordinance that would again allow the City Council to Landmark places of religious worship without the consent of the owner. This would allow the many Catholic churches included in the Archdiocese restructuring to be designated as a Chicago Landmark or to be located within a Chicago Landmark District.
PRESERVATION CHICAGO ENDANGERED CHURCH WATCH LIST:
CHRS Color Rating
Churches in green and bold are being consolidated. Churches in blue and bold are closed
9 South Side, 4 North/Northwest Side, 3 Near West/Lower West Side
St. Ita Catholic Church (to be Consolidated)
5500 N. Broadway, Edgewater, Edgewater (Community Area 77), 48th Ward
Henry J. Schlacks, 1924-1927
St. Ita’s first pastor, Father Crowe, was appointed on June 25, 1900, to establish a new congregation in Edgewater. St. Ita parish was founded the same year. However, after a century of sustained service, in the year of St. Ita’s centennial, an initial group of Roman Catholic parishes in Chicago were announced to be at risk of consolidations or closings of church buildings or schools.
These consolidations or closings have, since 1990, been periodically imposed on parishes which has shown sustained service to their communities in distinctive architectural complexes. As George Lane, S.J., implied in Chicago Churches and Synagogues: An Architectural Pilgrimage (1991), a series of Chicago’s Cardinals have ironically taken an interest in churches and parishes presently at risk, including “St. Ita Church 1924-27; 5500 North Broadway [1200 West]…French Gothic; Seating: 500:”
“In 1923 Father Crowe proposed the new church to Cardinal Mundelein who approved the plan and suggested the French Gothic style of architecture. The Cardinal took a great interest in the building. A large ‘M’ appears in the carved stone parapet all around the church. Although the plan of St. Ita’s was influenced by some features of the famous cathedrals of Chartres and of Brou in France, it was, for the most part, the original creation of the architect, Henry J. Schlacks.”
Long before construction began on Henry John Schlacks’s French Gothic masterpiece, brought about through the collaboration of Father Crowe and Cardinal Mundelein, Father Crowe celebrated the first Mass for the parish of St. Ita in the old Guild Hall on July 1, 1900. The first Mass was celebrated in a frame building of St. Ita Church on Christmas day, December 25, 1900. The frame building church was dedicated by Archbishop Feehan on June 9, 1901. On September 12, 1901, Father Crowe moved into the frame rectory which had been built at 1220 West Catalpa.
St. Ita School opened in the basement of the church on September 6, 1904, but with the parish increasing in strength on April 2, 1906, groundbreaking for a new school began at 5519 North Magnolia. On January 1, 1909, the Sisters of Mercy, who staffed the school, moved into a new convent next to the school building. All three stories of the brick school building were completed in September 1909.
On April 7, 1924, ground was broken for the present Church of St. Ita. This is architect Henry J. Schlack’s French Gothic masterpiece. On September 14, 1924, the cornerstone for the new church was laid after the old frame church had been razed. The first Mass celebrated in the present church occurred on April 17, 1927.
As George Lane, S.J., observed in 1991, the architecturally distinguished Henry Schlacks-designed church, a church which took three years to build, wound up being 186 feet long, 70 feet wide and 95 feet tall from the sidewalk to the top of the gable. The walls are four feet thick, and a whopping total of 3,500 tons of Bedford stone were quarried for the church. All that stone had to be quarried in Indiana and shipped to Chicago. The tower alone contains 1,800 tons of stone. It is, as George Lane has written, “an open, airy tower.” It has “delicate tracery, Gothic arches, finials, and gargoyles.” Like many of the at-risk church buildings of architectural distinction, St. Ita Church has long served as the chief focal point of its community.
St. Ita Church was dedicated by George Cardinal Mundelein on October 9, 1927, and Monsignor C. J. Quille was named pastor of St. Ita Parish on September 9, 1930, with Father Gerard C. Picard being named pastor of St. Ita on May 2, 1942.
Samuel Cardinal Stritch presided at the Golden Jubilee of the construction of the first Church of St. Ita Parish on November 18, 1951. With the church still strong, Father Raymond J. Morrison was named pastor of St. Ita Parish in May of 1968. The 50th Anniversary of Monsignor Picard’s Ordination was celebrated in the new Jubilee Hall on September 21, 1969, and on May 12, 1975, a Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated to mark the 75th Anniversary of the St. Ita Parish.
On February 11, 1976, Father Richard J. Feller was appointed pastor of St. Ita Parish. On September 1, 1988, Father Laurence J. Maddock was appointed pastor of St. Ita Parish about two years before St. Ita Parish celebrated its 90th Anniversary.
The Centennial Year for St. Ita Parish began with the celebration of the Feast of Saint Ita on January 15, 2000. Francis Cardinal George presided at the Centennial Mass on November 19, 2000. On the same day, the new altar was dedicated and the Church was rededicated. During the first decade of the church’s second century, Father Steven W. Patte and Father David P. Pavlik were successively appointed pastor of St. Ita Parish before Father Jo Andre B. Beltran was appointed Pastor in July of 2012 and Father Bob Cook, OFM Conv., was appointed Pastor in July of 2016.
Despite that illustrious history of over 100 years, and despite the distinguished French Gothic architecture of noted Chicago church architect Henry J. Schlack, St. Ita Parish is now in danger of a forced consolidation.
St. Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Church (to be Consolidated)
4827 N. Kenmore Avenue, Uptown, Uptown (Community Area 03), 46th Ward
Joseph W. McCarthy, 1917
St. Thomas of Canterbury was consecrated in 1917, the same year that George Mundelein was installed as archbishop. For over a century this church has served Uptown. St. Thomas of Canterbury became a diverse Catholic faith community. It is situated six miles north of the Loop and three blocks west of Lake Michigan. The seed for the parish was planted in 1916. Of recent some 300 people come to worship on any given Sunday. Members are now drawn from all over the North Side and from Evanston. Sacraments have been celebrated in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Laotian each week. The Eritrean Catholic community has celebrated the Ge-ez Rite liturgy on the first Sunday of each month. Still this parish is in danger of closing. St. Thomas of Canterbury is slated to be part of the new consolidated parish which includes St. Ita.
St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Church (to be Consolidated)
4200 N. Sheridan Road, Buena Park, Uptown (Community Area 03), 46th Ward
Henry J. Schlacks, 1917
Located on Chicago’s North Side in the Buena Park/Uptown neighborhood, St. Mary of the Lake has been an evolving spiritual and social community blessed by diversity. Founded in 1901, St. Mary of the Lake Parish has provided spiritual nourishment, guidance and comfort for parishioners drawn from more than one Chicago neighborhood. A Catholic education has been provided for children by the parish preschool and grade school. St. Mary of the Lake Parish was established by Archbishop Patrick A. Feehan in September of 1901. It comprised the territory known as Buena Park and was bounded by Lake Michigan on the east; Wilson Avenue on the north; Racine, Clark and the east line of Graceland Cemetery on the west; and Waveland Avenue on the south. In 1901, Buena Park was sparsely populated. At the time that Father John J. Dennison was appointed to organize the parish, there were only 60 families identified as Catholics who attended church. Land was secured, and plans were formulated for a new building which was to be a combination church and residence. Groundbreaking on the original building occurred on November 20, 1901.
In April of 1913, Father Dennison announced plans to build a new church and rectory at the northwest corner of Buena Avenue and Sheridan Road. Before construction could begin, the Robert A. Waller home — which stood at 4210 North Sheridan Road — was purchased and moved to 1026 West Buena Avenue. The church was designed by the young Henry J. Schlacks, a Chicago native, who had already made a name for himself as a church architect. Schlacks chose the Italian Renaissance style of architecture for the church. He patterned the structure after the Roman churches of St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major. The freestanding bell tower is a replica of the campanile of St. Pudentian Church in Rome. The altar’s pulpit and the altar rail reflect Henry Schlack’s creativity. Archbishop James E. Quigley laid the cornerstone of the present church on June 29, 1913. Archbishop Mundelein dedicated the church on May 20, 1917. At that time, the parish had 600 families. Work continued on the interior of the church for nine years. Ferdinando Palla of Pietrasanta, Italy, was awarded the contract for all the marble work, and Professor Lamesi designed the shrines. The marble came from Carrera and was the same marble as that used by Michelangelo. Besides the appealing statues of St. Therese of Lisieux, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. Jude, St. Rita, St. Anne, Sacred Heart, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Agnes, St. Raphael and St. Anthony of Padua, and the large columns made of scagliola, the church has many Corinthian capitals which are a sight to see. Over the apse is a triumphal arch. There are also arches over the side altar and over the main cupola which remind one of early Roman architecture. F. X. Zettler of the Royal Bavarian Art Institute in Munich, Germany, was commissioned to do the stained glass windows. The church interior was completed in time for the XXVIII international Eucharistic Congress held in Chicago in the summer of 1926. Also notable are the gold tones of the ceiling.
The parish school is situated on the east side of Kenmore Avenue, just north of Buena Avenue. The young architect, Joseph W. McCarthy, a native of New York, who grew up in Chicago and was taught by the Sisters of Mercy, designed a two-story school which had six classrooms on the second floor. The initial schoolhouse was noted for its lighting and classroom arrangement. The first floor of the school has a commodious and artistic auditorium which holds between 600-700 people. From its beginnings, the school has had a modern method of ventilation, and the school building has been considered fireproof. The Sisters of Mercy of St. Xavier’s administered and taught at the new school. From the 1920s to the 1960s, the Buena Park neighborhood continued to develop as a residential district. There were many new brick apartment buildings. In 1928, Father Dennison was recognized for his role in nurturing the growth of St. Mary of the Lake Parish. He was named a Domestic Prelate with the title of Right Reverend Monsignor. He celebrated the 50th anniversary of his ordination on December 17, 1939. In 1930, the frame house that stood at 4220 North Sheridan Road was razed to make room for the new convent building. Ground was broken in July of 1939. The spacious new facility was completed in December. The architectural firm of McCarthy, Smith, and Eppig designed the convent in a Renaissance style. The Sisters’ former residence (the old Waler home) was razed, and the property on which it stood was graded as a playground and a parking lot.
On July 16, 1971, Most Reverend Nevin W. Hayes, O.Crm., Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago (under John Cardinal Cody), who had grown up on the south side of Chicago in the St. Therese of the Infant Jesus Little Flower Parish, was appointed pastor of St. Mary of the Lake Parish. Bishop Hayes purchased a building at 4221 North Kenmore Avenue in 1974 for use as a community center. St. Mary’s Community Center (now part of the former convent building) has become an important part of the neighborhood. Shortly after it began, Bishop Hayes was appointed pastor of St. Phillip Neri Church on the southeast side of Chicago. Reverend John C. Rosemeyer — who was administrator of Our Lady Gate of Heaven Church on the southeast side of Chicago from 1972 to 1973 — was named pastor of St. Mary of the Lake Parish on August 28, 1974. He had been associate pastor at the parish on two occasions, first from 1958 to 1963 and again from 1973 to 1974. Under his leadership, the sanctuary was renovated in 1976 in time for the parish’s 75th anniversary.
In Chicago Churches and Synagogues: An Architectural Pilgrimage (1991), George Lane listed two of today’s threatened churches as being representative of the basilica form. One was St. Mary of the Lake Church (1913-1917) which George Lane listed at 4200 North Sheridan Road (1000 West). The other was St. Adalbert Church (1912-1914) which George Lane listed at 1636 West 17th Street (listed below).
St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church
1327 N. Noble Street, Pulaski Park / West Town, West Town (Community Area 24), 2nd Ward
Patrick C. Keeley, 1877-1881
As George Lane, S.J., observed in his excellent survey of Chicago’s houses of worship, Chicago Churches and Synagogues: An Architectural Pilgrimage (1991), “Just north of Division Street, the Kennedy Expressway swings around a huge basilica-like church with twin towers, and only one cupola. This is St. Stanislaus Kostka Church. The south cupola was struck by lightning and destroyed in 1964.” Now more than the church building’s cupola is at risk.
St. Stanislaus Kostka Church was founded in 1867 as the first Polish parish or “Mother Church” in Chicago. Thirty years later the church grew to include 8,000 families, totaling 40,000 people. There were 12 Masses each Sunday.
The parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka opened in 1867 and in 1871, Bishop Foley put the Resurrection Fathers in charge of the growing parish. As the flow of Polish immigrants continued into the neighborhood, a larger church was needed. The cornerstone of the present church building was laid in 1877, and the church was dedicated in 1881.
By 1897, St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish was the largest parish in the United States. Six Masses were held each Sunday in the upper church and another six Masses were held in the lower church. St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish is considered the mother church of the many Polish parishes and was founded by Fr. Vincent Barzynski, C.R., during his pastorate (1874-1899).
George Lane, S.J., in Chicago Churches and Synagogues: An Architectural Pilgrimage (1991), noted in his section on “St. Stanislaus Kostka Church 1877-81, 1327 North Noble Street (1400 West) [by] Architect Patrick C. Keely; Style: Renaissance; Seating: 1,500,” that the “building of the Kennedy Expressway in the late 1950s forced many parishioners to move out of the area. [In 1991 there were] 850 families in the parish: some Polish people who remain, others of various ethnic backgrounds, and a large Mexican-American community.”
Despite such effects as those presented by the Kennedy Expressway, the parish has managed to serve the spiritual needs of parishioners who have come from a wide geographic area and who have represented many different ethnic groups. The large number of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans is a number which has brought a new vitality to the parish. Masses have been held in English, Spanish and Polish. The parish has operated an elementary school and has had a strong religious education program.
In 2007, Cardinal Francis George designated St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish as the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in Chicago and, in 2008, he blessed the iconic Monstrance, Our Lady of the Sign-Ark of Mercy, which has drawn many people to 24-hour Eucharistic Adoration at this historic church.
In September 2011, St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish began a project of essential repair and restoration of the church building. The vision then expressed was that the parish would continue to be a beacon of hope for the next generations of Catholics in Chicago.
As Father Anthony Bus, C.R., pointed out in his February 10, 2019, piece, “Annual Catholic Appeal 2019,” written for the church bulletin, “Saint Stanislaus Kostka Parish the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy,…1327 N. Noble St., 1 block West of the Kennedy at Division St.,” each Catholic parish is asked each year to contribute to other parishes in the city: “In a couple of weeks we will make our personal pledges to the Annual Catholic Appeal. The Archdiocese assigns us a goal of 6 [percent] of our previous year’s offertory income. For Fiscal Year 2017-2018, St. Stanislaus Kostka’s offertory income was $351,930. Therefore, our target for the 2019 Appeal is $21,116. Anything we contribute over and above the $21,116 goal will come back to St. Stanislaus Kostka. In other words, if we contribute $61,116 to the Annual Appeal, the parish will receive $40,000 in return. Not only are we supporting other Archdiocesan schools, parishes and religious programs in need, but we benefit from the Appeal as well. As I remind you every year, the Archdiocese has been very generous in support of St. Stanislaus Kostka in the past years of my pastorate when we were in need. Our generosity to the Appeal is a gesture of gratitude for assistance we’ve received as well as an expression of our generosity in helping other parishes and schools in their mission and ministries…We will make our pledges on the weekend of February 16 and 17th…”
It is obvious that parishes are able to rejuvenate if given time to do so and once rejuvenated can contribute to other parishes which are in need. It seems more time should be given parishes to rejuvenate rather than forcing them to close or merge.
Notre Dame de Chicago (to be Consolidated)
1334 W. Flournoy Street, University Village / Little Italy, Neat West Side (Community Area 28), 25th Ward
Gregoire Vigeant, 1889-1892
Located south of West Harrison Street between South Ashland Avenue and South Racine Avenue at 1334 West Flournoy Street in the University Village / Little Italy area of the Near West Side (Community Area 28) in the 25th Ward, Notre Dame de Chicago celebrates mass several times both on weekends and during the week. Mass is celebrated in a church which was built between 1887 and 1892. This late 19th century church replaced an earlier church which was built in 1865 on a different site. The parish itself dates back to 1864. The new church building was designed in the Romanesque Revival style by French Canadian architect Gregoire Vigeant. The Greek cross layout, the hipped roofs and square domes, and the emphasis on height given by the two cupolas and lantern show a French influence. The church has lovely stained glass windows, rich blue and gold tones, a beautiful white altar and a lovely dome.
The Archdiocese of Chicago gave control of the church to the Fathers of the Blessed Sacrament in 1918. The International Eucharistic Congress of 1926 was hosted by the church. Notre Dame of Chicago represents a significant part of French immigrant history to Chicago. The church had services completely in French for many years until it integrated English into the sermon. Services and the Sacrament of Baptism are now offered in English and in Spanish. For historical as well as architectural reasons, the church was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 7, 1979. The church is accommodating and has a parking lot in the back and an elevator to accommodate strollers, wheelchairs and elderly parishioners. There is a garden in the back for use in meditation. The University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC) Choirs have used the church to conduct their Fall and Spring concerts. The church has wonderful acoustics. Notre Dame’s Parish School is Children of Peace, an Archdiocesan Catholic / Christian School which serves the Illinois Medical District and Metropolitan Chicago. The present location on 1900 West Taylor Street is the result of a consolidation of three Catholic Schools — Holy Trinity, St. Callistus and Holy Family. This consolidation occurred in 1994. The children named the newly formed school. They stated they wanted to bring a feeling of strong and loving peace to their community. The attractive school features a 15 to 1 teacher to student ratio in the traditional and Montessori programs and a 5 to 1 teacher to student ratio in the deaf and hard of hearing program, besides having diverse classrooms (with at least 10 different races or ethnicities represented in the student body which includes African-American, East and Southeast Asian, Caucasian and Latino students). Students of all faiths and backgrounds are accepted. Students come from over 30 different zip codes within the Chicagoland area. The school is near the I-290 and I-90 expressways and is a 10-minute commute from the South Loop.
Holy Family Church (to be Consolidated)
1080 W. Roosevelt Road, University Village / Little Italy, Neat West Side (Community Area 28), 25th Ward
Dillenburg and Zucher, John van Osdel, John Paul Huber 1857-1860, 1866, 1874 Tower
Located at 1080 West Roosevelt Road in the University Village / Little Italy area of the Near West Side, Holy Family Church, designed by Dillenburg & Zucher, a Milwaukee architectural firm. Chicago’s first architect John Van Osdel designed the church’s expansion. The tall tower was added in 1874, designed by John Paul Huber. Holy Family has served parishioners since 1857 as Chicago’s second-oldest Catholic church, but it is nonetheless threatened with an ending of its Sunday morning Mass. Cardinal Blaise Cupich’s decision to have the giving of Mass ended at the church was handed down to parishioners on February 20, 2019, but without the cardinal there to answer questions. The decision announced that Holy Family will be folded into Notre Dame de Chicago Church at the start of July under a new parish, with one pastor and one pastoral staff. The announcement was made by Rev. Jason Malave, the liaison for Cardinal Cupich’s Renew My Church initiative. Cost-cutting measures have included consolidation and closings in the archdiocese’s 97 parish groupings. As many as eight parishes have closed altogether under Cardinal Cupich’s plan. Rev. Malave said that a council of 31 priests was consulted on the parishes. Eight or nine meetings have been held since September to discuss the changes.
Despite its popularity with parishioners and its fiscal health, Sunday morning masses are planned to end although Sunday evening mass and weddings may continue to be celebrated at Holy Family. Holy Family survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and is owned by the Society of Jesus, or Jesuit Community, in Chicago. Its land is owned by the adjacent St. Ignatius High School. Dedicated as the original Jesuit parish in Chicago, Holy Family is the mother institution of the adjacent St. Ignatius College Prep and Loyola University Chicago in Rogers Park, along with its downtown campus.
St. Adalbert Catholic Church (to be Closed) (Chicago 7 Most Endangered 2014 and 2016)
1636 W. 17th Street, Pilsen, Lower West Side (Community Area 31), 25th Ward
Henry J. Schlacks, 1914
In May of 2016, the Archdiocese of Chicago decreed that St. Adalbert Parish in Pilsen would be merged with the neighboring St. Paul Parish. In October of that year, the Archdiocese announced an intended sale of St. Adalbert Church at 17th Street and Paulina Avenue.
Originally constructed for a Polish congregation in the Pilsen neighborhood, St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Church is a Renaissance Revival complex designed by noted church architect Henry J. Schlacks, who worked for a time in the architectural office of Adler & Sullivan. It is the Mother Church of the South Side Polish Community. The church was completed in 1914. Its soaring 185-foot twin towers are the highest structures in the Pilsen neighborhood and easily recognizable throughout the neighborhood. The red and white interior walls, stained-glass windows depicting the patron saints of Poland, and 1890s decor all communicate the architectural taste appealing to the Polish working-class immigrants who attended the church. Recently, St. Adalbert Church has served a mostly Mexican-American community. Mass is held in English and Spanish on a weekly basis. A Polish Mass is celebrated once a month.
With their local Mass threatened by the potential closure and sale of the church, parishioners organized the St. Adalbert Preservation Society and the Society for St. Adalbert and campaigned against the Archdiocese’s decision. Anne Maselli, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese, wrote that the Archdiocese is “committed to finding an alternative use for St. Adalbert Church and property and will be soliciting proposals from a broad range of potential users.” In 2016, Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, claimed shifting demographics and a shortage of priests have spread the financial resources of the Archdiocese too thin to avoid parish closures and mergers.
The parish was founded in 1874. The earlier church structure, located to the west of the current church, was replaced by the current St. Adalbert in 1912. The two churches stood side by side until the 1970s. The current church is not only a fine example of Renaissance Revival architecture but also a chronicle of Polish history. The central figure of the church is a large statue of St. Adalbert. Its murals, stained glass windows and even its interior color scheme all celebrate important Polish national heritage.
Fronting the street, the two buff-colored brick towers are ornamented with finely detailed terra cotta, pierced by arcades and capped by copper cupolas. Visitors enter through a portico defined by a series of polished granite Corinthian columns. Once inside, the interior is a soaring rectangular space based upon the form of Roman basilica.
Originally constructed for a Polish congregation in the Pilsen neighborhood, St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Church is a Renaissance Revival complex designed by noted church architect Henry John Schlacks (1867-1938). A native Chicagoan, Schlacks attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then worked for a time in the offices of Adler and Sullivan before starting his own architectural practice. Schlacks founded the architecture department at the University of Notre Dame. Besides St. Adalbert Church, he designed St. Anthony, St. Boniface, St. Clara on Woodlawn Avenue, St. Gelasius, St. Ignatius, St. Ita, St. John of God, St. Mary of the Lake, St. Paul, Angel Guardian Croatian Catholic Mission Church and St. Martin of Tours churches in Chicago. For the latter, whose plans were supplied by a German architect, Schlacks was the supervising architect. Schlacks also designed St. Nicholas Church in Evanston, St. John Lutheran Church in Forest Park, St. Edmund Church in Oak Park, St. Peter Church in Skokie, St. Joan of Arc Church in Indianapolis, Holy Name-Mater Dei Church in Topeka and St. Mark Church in Cincinnati.
As is the case with many of the Roman Catholic churches presently under threat, the 1914 St. Adalbert Catholic Church at 1636-1650 West 17th Street is easily recognizable. It has served as a focal point for the Pilsen area of the Lower West Side, and its parishioners still want it to continue in that capacity. On June 26, 2018, the parish issued a piece entitled “St. Adalbert and Renewal” which is still accessible on the Internet at savestadalbertchurch.org under the banner, “Save St. Adalbert Church: Please Help Save a Pilsen Treasure…Contact Archdiocese & the Vatican…”
Not just a church building has been put at risk at St. Adalbert. The church, former rectory, former convent, school building (rented to a Charter School in recent years) and parking lot form a large campus. The campus occupies the west half of the city block between West 16th and West 17th Streets, from Ashland Avenue to Paulina Street.
Of this site, Blair Kamin, architecture critic at the Chicago Tribune, wrote in 2016: “[T]he 102-year-old church effectively marries the austere basilica form of early Christian churches with baroque flourishes that symbolize Polish national identity. What could have been an eclectic jumble is instead a powerful monument. It’s no coincidence that the church’s richly coffered ceiling and its interior walls are painted red and white, the colors of the Polish flag. The patron saints of Poland are represented in the stained glass windows around the nave. Mural paintings at the head of the nave depict great events in the religious history of Poland, including the wedding of Jadwiga, the Polish queen.”
The architectural complex contains a distinguished church building many of whose features testify to the Polish part of the history of Chicago. However, the testimony is not just of Polish history but also of Roman Christian cultural history. Denis R. McNamara, architectural historian and faculty member at the Liturgical Institute of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, wrote in Heavenly City: The Architectural Tradition of Catholic Chicago, that St. Adalbert’s interior “uses the large, closely spaced columns and small arches found at the fourth-century St. Paul Outside the Walls Basilica in Rome;” it has “double choir lofts common to many Polish churches” and an “elaborate baldacchino over the high altar [that] derives from the Polish Baroque tradition” and “its altar reveals a monumental display of stone carving similar to the Baroque reredoses of Poland….Schlacks combined his preference for early Christian basilicas with the tall Baroque towers desired by Polish parishes as a statement of national identity.”
St. Therese Chinese Catholic Church and School (to be Consolidated)
218 W. Alexander Street, Bridgeport, Armour Square (Community Area 34), 25th Ward
William F. Gubbins, 1904
The Archdiocese has determined that St. Therese will assume responsibility for St. Barbara School as of the 2019-2020 school year. St. Therese Chinese Catholic School is located at 247 West 23rd Street, Chicago. The church has undertaken some renovations in recent years, adding air conditioning and a lift for people who have difficulty with stairs. The church has had its parishioner base double in the past six years. Its school is a two-time recipient of a national award winner of an award issued by the United States Department of Education. Both the parish and the school are financially solvent. The school is at its capacity. Despite these facts, it has been recommended that St. Therese parish be downgraded to a worship site and the school is being asked to take on a second school campus that would require significant financial investment in order to operate. Some 2,714 people have signed the change.org petition message that reads, “Cardinal Cupich, Bishop Casey, Superintendent Rigg, Fr. Jason, and the Archdiocese of Chicago: Let St. Therese Chinese Catholic Church and School STAND ALONE.” Besides half a dozen different Asian cultures, Chicago Italians have attended the church and school. The church building in which those different groups harmoniously attend services is notably an architectural jewel. St. Therese offers Masses, baptisms, weddings, and CCD/RCIA classes in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. Monthly Masses are celebrated in Indonesian.
St. Jerome Croatian Catholic Church (to be Consolidated)
Not included in CHRS
2823 S. Princeton Avenue, Bridgeport, Armour Square (Community Area 34), 11th Ward
Christian O. Hansen, 1885
St. Jerome Croatian Catholic Church is situated in Salem Lutheran Church’s former building. The initial congregation was organized in 1868. From 1870 to 1885 the congregation worshipped in a building located on Busnell Street (now 23rd Place). In 1885 the congregation moved to the east side of Princeton Avenue. The new site was between 28th and 29th Streets. In 1922 the congregation moved to 74th Street and Calumet Avenue, at 318 East 74th Street in the Park Manor neighborhood on the South Side. The Princeton Avenue building was sold to a Roman Catholic congregation. In an Internet-accessible communication of the ELCA Archives (http://bit.ly/2th4He2), there is an image of the church building as first constructed.
The historic church building which belongs to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago is located in the Armour Square neighborhood in Chicago’s South Side, at 2823 South Princeton Street. Worship services have been performed in both Croatian and English.
J. E. Quigley, Archbishop of Chicago, requested the Holy See to send a Croatian priest to work among the Croatians of Chicago. Father Leo Medic, OFM, arrived in the United States in May of 1912. He organized about 5,000 immigrants from Dalmatia, Banovina, Istria, Slavonia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The parish’s original church and rectory were purchased from German Protestants. They were located on 15th Street near Wentworth Avenue. After discussion of whether to call the church Croatian or Dalmatian, the Archbishop proclaimed St. Jerome as a Croatian Church.
By 1997, the parish had a total of 1,050 parishioners. Students in the K-8 grammar school totaled 168, and the Croatian school enrollment totaled 50 students taught by five teachers. Saint Jerome School has been in operation for 80 years. The nuns who have taught have belonged to the Adorers of the Precious Blood. A contemporary principal has been a lay person. On November 28, 2018, the Archdiocese of Chicago made a public announcement of Cardinal Cupich’s decision about the future of Catholic parishes in the neighborhood of St. Jerome parish. Eight parish groups have served the parish, including Holy Name Society, St. Jerome’s Auxiliary, The Altar and Rosary Group, and Mary’s Society. Each of the churches threatened with consolidation or closure involves a number of groups associated with the church which will be affected by the consolidation or closure decision.
In 1932 a parish book contained information and photographs which communicated the storied history and life of the church.
All Saints – St. Anthony Catholic Church (to be Closed)
518 W. 28th Place, Bridgeport, Bridgeport (Community Area 60), 11th Ward
Henry J. Schlacks, 1913
All Saints – St. Anthony Catholic Church was one of the important churches and parishes treated by George Lane, S.J., in his important work, Chicago Churches and Synagogues: An Architectural Pilgrimage (1991).
An Internet communication of All Saints – St. Anthony Parish recently announced that St. Therese Chinese Mission and St. Barbara Parish will unite into one parish and one parish school operating out of the existing campuses on Alexander and Throop Streets. St. Mary of Perpetual Help and All Saints – St. Anthony Parish will unite to form one parish operating out of the current St. Mary campus. The communication further stated, “The existing property at AS-SA will be closed no later than June 2020.” This was the second update in the line of communications related to the curiously named Renew My Church initiative follows an earlier message under the rubric “Renew My Church: BCC Grouping – Update for Parishes.”
The earlier message read: “The faith communities of St. Jerome Croatian and Santa Lucia-Maria Incoronata will unite to form a new parish. St. Jerome will serve as the active worship site, and Santa Lucia – Santa Maria Incoronata Church will close no later than June of 2020. The name of the new parish will be determined by the combined parish communities within the next year.”
In addition, there was this announcement: “Nativity of Our Lord and St. Gabriel will be united to form one new parish, with both churches open as worship sites. The name of the new parish will be determined by the combined parish communities within the next year.”
The decision maker in such developments was indicated by this message: “Cardinal Cupich has requested additional time for further discussion and consultation regarding the parishes of All Saints – St. Anthony, St. Barbara, St. Mary of Perpetual Help and St. Therese Chinese and the Archdiocesan Center for Chinese Apostolates. Therefore, a decision regarding these parishes will be delayed until at least mid-January.”
As mentioned previously, the decision regarding All Saints – St. Anthony Parish has been made and communicated as of February 2019. More detailed information on the parish has been made by Father Peter in a bulletin article.
As far as schools are concerned, a segment in the sorrowful church communications made on the Internet by the All Saints – St. Anthony Church came under the ironic title: “Renew My Church: BCC Grouping Update for schools:” St. Jerome School will serve as the parish school. Santa Lucia School will close effective June 30, 2019. Bridgeport Catholic Academy and St. Gabriel School will unite as one school with two campuses to serve the new parish formed by Nativity of Our Lord and St. Gabriel. Each campus [will be led] by its own principal reporting to the new pastor of the new, unified parish. St. Therese Chinese School will assume responsibility of [or for] St. Barbara School, retaining campuses at both school properties under the leadership of St. Therese school and name.” As mentioned under “St. Therese Chinese Church” in this part of the Preservation Chicago publication, this new responsibility was not sought by the St. Therese Chinese parish which already was achieving a union of Chinese and Italian Catholics, as well as others. As to the unwelcome announcement by the Archdiocese which has been relayed on the Internet by the All Saints – St. Anthony Parish, the following was added in the initial “Renew My Church: BCC Grouping Update for schools” message: “School leadership structure will consist of one principal with two administrators, one at each site. The school will be led by the current St. Therese Chinese school principal. The current St. Barbara principal will serve as an administrator at St. Barbara campus.”
St. Barbara Catholic Church (to be Consolidated)
2859 S. Throop Street, Bridgeport, Bridgeport (Community Area 60), 11th Ward
Henry Worthmann and J. G. Steinbach, 1914
Although St. Barbara Catholic Church successfully marked its centennial in 2010, and although there was painting and restoration of the interior of the church by the Oosterbaan & Sons company in 2012, St. Barbara School and Church have had their consolidation with another parish and school announced in unwelcome fashion.
When the St. Barbara School was first built, the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis entered. The order administered successfully to many immigrants. Growth led to a school addition being completed in 1924. At that time, an auditorium, a six-lane bowling alley and a kitchen were added. Six new classrooms accommodated a two-year commercial high school.
During a 1990s restoration effort, St. Barbara cleaned, repaired, and fully restored its stained glass windows. The parish placed four additional stained glass scenes in the front church towers in 1999 and thus replaced plain glass panes. In 2001, despite its academic performance, St. Barbara High School closed. The portions of the building previously used by the high school were then adapted to enhance the offerings of St. Barbara Elementary School. There were thus additional facilities for science, technology and the arts.
St. Barbara’s in Bridgeport was one of eight parishes in the Chinatown, Bridgeport and Canaryville neighborhoods beset by a 2018 announcement of closings. In November of 2018, possible parish closures or parishes to be consolidated involved All Saints – St. Anthony, St. Barbara, St. Gabriel, St. Jerome Croatia, Santa Lucia-Sant Maria Incoronata, St. Mary of Perpetual Help, Nativity of our Lord and St. Therese Chinese Catholic. Elementary schools serve St. Barbara, St. Gabriel, St. Jerome, Santa Lucia-Santa Maria and St. Therese.
In November of 2018, one scenario had St. Therese merging with All Saints and St. Barbara (the latter set to close). Another potential merger involved St. Gabriel and Nativity of our Lord. Nativity of Our Lord is the longtime church home of the Daley family.
The Parish Office of St. Barbara Parish is at 2859 South Throop Street. St. Barbara Parish began more than a century ago. The nearest Polish parish, St. Mary of Perpetual Help, was bulging at the seams, so Pastor Rev. Stanislaus Nawrocki obtained approval to buy land for a new parish along Throop Street. In 1910, his younger brother, Rev. Anthony Nawrocki, became the first pastor of the new St. Barbara parish. Mass and the sacraments were celebrated in the basement hall of the school while construction of the church took place. The domed, Renaissance-style church had no pillars in the interior so that sight lines were clear for the 1,200 possible worshippers. The dedication and consecration of the church took place July 5, 1914. Architects Henry Worthmann and J. G. Steinbach were either German or Austrian. They also designed St. Mary of the Angels, St. Hyacinth, Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church. A twin of St. Barbara is Our Lady of Tepeyac (originally known as St. Casimir). According to Parish Historian Walter J. Podrazik and Heartland Historical Research Service’s Grace DuMelle, another Worthmann and Steinbach design is First Lutheran Church of the Trinity in Bridgeport.
Santa Lucia – Santa Maria Incoronata (to be Closed)
Not included in CHRS
3022 S. Wells Street, Bridgeport, Armour Square (Community Area 34), 11th Ward
Ray Basso, 1961
The early beginnings of Santa Lucia Church and its development as a parish must start with a vision seen by Fr. Joseph J. Lazzeri. During the early years of World War II, Fr. Joseph, who was pastor of Santa Maria Incoronata, purchased a neighborhood hall at 3022 S. Wells St.
Santa Lucia has been located at 3022 S. Wells Street since [add year here]. Founded by the Scalabrini Fathers, Santa Lucia began as an extension of Santa Maria Incoronata Parish in 1943 to accommodate the growing population of Italian immigrants living in Santa Maria Incoronata’s parish. In 1953 the Archdiocese of Chicago approved the separate administration of Santa Maria Incoronata, and Santa Lucia became a parish on her own. Fr. Primo Beltrame, CS, was then named the first pastor of Santa Lucia Church.
As the years went by, there was increased concern for Catholic education for area children. In May 1960, the Archdiocese of Chicago gave permission to construct a school. Santa Lucia School was dedicated on November 26, 1961 by Albert Cardinal Meyer and was staffed by the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
Now in a wave of parish consolidations or closures this independence of parish churches, congregations and schools has been put at risk.
St. Mary of Perpetual Help Catholic Church (to be Consolidated)
1039 W. 32nd Street, Bridgeport (Community Area 60), 11th Ward
Henry Engelbert, 1889
In his illuminating book, Chicago Churches and Synagogues: An Architectural Pilgrimage (1991), George A. Lane, S. J., noted that St. Mary of Perpetual Help Catholic Church was designed by Henry Engelbert to seat 1,100 in the Byzantine – Romanesque styled church. To Father Lane, “Of the many steeples, spires, and domes in Bridgeport, St. Mary’s dome is by far the largest and most impressive.”
The huge dome is of wood construction. It has ornamental copper covering. The apex of the dome rises 113 feet above the floor of the church. Beneath it lies a church building of brick construction. The windows and arches are Romanesque.
Besides the central dome, there are domes and half domes, arches, columns and pilasters. These are lavishly decorated. They lead up to the white marble altar in the chancel.
In 1961. John A. Mallin was involved the church’s redecoration, with the result that below the traditional painting of Our Lady of Perpetual Help above the main altar there are pictures of saints of Poland. From left to right, these depicted saints are St Stanislaus Kostka, Bl. Kunegunda, St. John Cantius, St. Adalbert, St. Stanislaus, bishop and martyr, St. Casimir, St. Hedwig and St. Andrew Bobola.
In 1926 there was installed a four-manual Austin organ. When George Lane went to visit the church he found the organ still in use. Such sustenance is found in many of the churches presently being forced to consolidate or close through some incompletely disclosed bureaucratic decision-making process.
George Lane found the organ of St. Mary of Perpetual Help to contain “a great organ, swell organ, choir organ, echo organ, solo organ, pedal organ, and floating string division playable on every manual.” He noted that the pipes ranged up to 32 feet.
He recalled that the church he fondly called “St. Mary’s” had been originally a mission of St. Adalbert’s. St. Mary of Perpetual Help was established as a parish in 1886. It served the Polish Catholics of Bridgeport. As the immigrant population swelled, the parish grew. An elementary school and a high school served the new residents. The Sisters of St. Joseph administered the schools. The Chicago diocesan clergy served the worship needs of the parish. When George Lane arrived in 1990, he observed that “Msgr. Edward J. Smaza” had been “pastor of the church since 1950.” He observed a parish plant occupying most of a city block. He observed the continuing strength of the parish. He found it “active with services in Polish and English.”
Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church (to be Consolidated)
Not included in CHRS
653 W. 37th Street, Brideport, Bridgeport (Community Area 60), 11th Ward
Patrick C. Keeley, 1885
“In the year of our Lord 1868, Archdiocese of Chicago Bishop James Duggan recognized a spiritual need in the Hamburg and Union Stock Yards district of Chicago,” according to parish history. Bishop Duggan appointed Irish-born Fr. Michael Lyons (1828-1881) to found a parish to serve the people occupying what would soon be known as the Bridgeport neighborhood.
Masses were offered in the stables adjacent to the stockyards. The parish was named appropriately since its inception mirrored the birth of Jesus in a stable.
Eight years later, property was acquired for a more permanent house of worship, and the current church’s cornerstone was laid October 28, 1876 by Bishop Foley. The church structure was designed to seat 1,200 people. A magnificent church and its adjacent buildings were erected under the leadership of Fr. Joseph M. Cartan (1847-1907), the third pastor of Nativity of Our Lord.
For a long time the church stood in the eyes of its parishioners “tall and proud in its magnificence and beauty at the same corner of 37th Street and Union Avenue.” To them it served for a long time as “a beacon and pillar in this unique neighborhood.” With the passage of years, parishioners remained of the opinion that “[t]he original mission of Nativity of Our Lord Parish to bring souls closer to God is still met today and will continue to be met for ages to come.”
To the parishioners, “Tens of thousands of souls have been nourished and continue to be nourished by this great parish. Countless young people have been educated in our parish school. Many have seen their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren graduate from Nativity of Our Lord School and Bridgeport Catholic Academy.”
St. Gabriel Catholic Church (to be Consolidated)
600 W. 45th Street, Canaryville, New City (Community Area 61), 11th Ward
Burnham & Root, 1888
Saint Gabriel Parish and Elementary School is in the heart of Canaryville, a small community of several third- and fourth-generation Irish immigrants. The neighborhood has been proud of its Irish roots. Family ties have run deep in the parish and in the school. Saint Gabriel is a hidden gem. It is tucked away amid century-old homes. A visitor to the neighborhoods surrounding Canaryville might miss this gem, the way visitors to Chicago might miss the other parishes mentioned here, parishes with their respective sites of significance.
Saint Gabriel Parish has celebrated its 130th Anniversary. Father Maurice Dorney was St. Gabriel’s first pastor. Father Dorney had the foresight to purchase 20 lots (from 45th to 46th and Lowe) for $500 to build the church, school, convent and rectory for Saint Gabriel’s. While pastor, Father Dorney graduated from law school. Known within “the Yards,” Father Dorney was a friend to laborers and company owners. He procured jobs and helped avoid strikes, according to a parish account. Father Dorney was gifted with a block of stock from the head of National Livestock Bank, according to the account. After two decades the dividends grew to $68,000, and the money was spent “for the welfare of the church and assisting in the schools of Saint Gabriel.” Father Dorney traveled to Ireland in 1887. He was said to be “instrumental in the exoneration of Charles Stewart Parnell (champion of home rule for Ireland) who was accused of complicity in a murder.”
A church bulletin, “St. Gabriel’s Trumpet,” with the distribution date of February 24, 2019 has reported a recent Mass attendance of 363, and the finances reported in the same parish do not scream out for consolidation or closure of the parish and its school.
St. Michael Archangel Catholic Church (to be Consolidated)
8237 S. South Shore Drive, South Chicago, South Chicago (Community Area 46), 7th Ward
William J. Brinkmann, 1909
St Michael’s was founded in 1892 to serve Polish immigrants who flocked to America’s shores in search of work to build a better future for themselves and for their children. For a century or more the faith community formed from these immigrants expanded to include Mexican and Mexican Americans, Nigerians, African Americans, Asian Americans,Haitians and Filipinos who have worshipped together within the Gothic church.
The present St. Michael’s is the third church building constructed to serve the people of this area, having been completed in 1909 under the pastorate of Bishop Paul Rhode. Bishop Rhode was the first Polish American to be consecrated auxiliary bishop of Chicago. Bishop Rhode later became the Bishop of Green Bay, Wisconsin.
The church’s architecture and expansive interior is Gothic in style. It features two towering steeples that rise over the South Side of Chicago. The architect was William J. Brinkmann.
The main altar reredos and two side altars are constructed of butternut and bird’s eye maple wood. The central statue of St. Michael, the two incensing angels and the statues on the side altars were sculpted and painted by hand. A beautiful and rare communion rail is carved in oak with a white marble top. The interior of the church can seat approximately 1,100 people.
Of interest to lovers of music is the grand piano which belonged to famed composer Ignace Jan Paderewski.
A shrine to Our Lady of Czestochowa, the National Patron of the people of Poland, is located in the sanctuary. The shrine was constructed in Poland in the early 1960s.
The Magnificent stained glass windows were made by F. X. Zettler of Munich, Germany. Of special note are the two transept windows on the East and West sides of the church. These windows have been considered by some in the parish to be perhaps the largest most beautiful stained glass windows in the Archdiocese of Chicago. The window on the east side of the church depicts the Pentecost event — the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Virgin Mary and the Apostles. The window on the West side of the church gives imagery to the vision of Saint Michael the Archangel at the Last Judgment.
Among other churches in Chicago which claim to house relics, St. Michael’s enshrines a relic said to be of St. Cyprian, Bishop and martyr.
St. Camillus (to be Closed)
Not included in CHRS
5426 S. Lockwood Avenue, Vittum Park, Garfield Ridge (Community Area 56), 23 Ward
1921, Architect unknown
The old St. Florian Mission was reorganized as the national parish of St. Camillus in October of 1921. St. Camillus was established as a Polish parish in 1921, and a complex was developed over the years for St. Camillus at 55th and Lockwood Avenue on the Southwest Side of Chicago. Construction on the present St. Camillus Church began in 1922. The modern brick edifice was joined to an existing combination building at 55th Street and Lockwood Avenue, and a wing was added to the west side of the church. The wing helped give the church symmetry. For a rectory, the church used an apartment building which it acquired. The parish school attracted 300 children by 1925. After Father Boleslaus J. Kasprzycki became the leader of the church, a new building project was underway. A three-story structure was added to the original wing on Lockwood Avenue. The church complex serviced the parish for a number of years. In a history of St. Camillus Church published in The New World of May 24, 1935, the parish membership was given as 320 families. The school had 260 enrollees. On December 12, 1937, Father Kasprzycki celebrated his Silver Jubilee of Priesthood.
The Reverend Joseph J. Mackowiak was appointed pastor of the parish in July of 1957. He came from Bridgeport where he had been an assistant at St. Barbara Church. Father Mackowiak continued Monsignor Kasprzycki’s plans for enlargement of the parish complex. Ground was broken for two new buildings on August 17, 1958. A new rectory was constructed at 5426 South Lockwood Avenue. A combination building was constructed at 5434 South Lockwood Avenue. It contained eight classrooms and residential accommodations for 12 sisters. Bishop Hillinger dedicated the new parish buildings on October 25, 1959. Six hundred students were enrolled in St. Camillus School at the time.
The Golden Jubilee of St. Camillus Church was celebrated on October 17, 1971. John Cardinal Cody presided at a special Mass of Thanksgiving. In attendance at a parish dinner dance were more than 650 parishioners and their friends.
At the request of the parish Building Committee, Cardinal Cody granted permission on November 28, 1973, for the enlargement of St. Camillus Church. This permission led to a newly renovated church blessed by Bishop Abramowicz at a Concelebrated Mass which took place on September 22, 1974. Despite changes in its leadership thereafter, the parish saw a new classroom opened and third floor renovations which reopened two classrooms closed for more than 20 years. The parish attained a membership of approximately 1,000 families.
Despite this history of success and despite the August 2003 assumption of pastoral duties at St. Camillus parish by Father Waclaw (Wenceslaus) of St. Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr — Lucjan Lech, a priest of the Discalced Carmelite Fathers Order — this church and its history are threatened by consolidation. St. Camillus has recently been home to three Discalced Carmelite Fathers, including pastor and Rev. Waclaw Lech, OCD; resident and Rev. Jack Chodzynski, OCD.
St. Felicitas (to be Closed)
Not included in CHRS
1526 East 84th Street, Marynook, Avalon Park (Community Area 45), 8th Ward
1918, Architect unknown
For over 100 years, the Catholic Community of Saint Felicitas has served within the Archdiocese of Chicago. In its current Mission Statement, the church announced itself as a “predominately African American Parish Community, whose Mission is to be prophets; ministers of the Gospel; instruments of peace; and celebrants of joy, regardless of race, age, gender or denomination….” Recently there occurred planning for the celebration of Saint Felicitas’s 100th anniversary. Three celebratory events were planned for 2018 and 2019. So proud of its architecture, the parish put up on the Internet a photograph gallery which displays the church’s architectural features. The photographs show the kind of sacred space with which Chicago has been blessed, space in which a church could grow rather than instead have its parishes or congregations consolidated or closed.
St. Joachim (to be Closed)
Not included in CHRS
700 E. 91st Street, West Chesterfield, Chatham (Community Area 44), 8th Ward
George S. Smith, 1896
St. Joachim Catholic Church at 700 East 91st Street has announced on an Internet site labeled “Mass Times” the following: “The last Mass was celebrated at St. Joachim yesterday, December 16, 2018, after 124 years and 5 months of faithful ministry in the Burnside community of Chicago.” The church sits at the corner 91st Street and Langley Avenue. Prior to the recent announcement, the church was planning to stay there for some time to come. The Chamber of Commerce indicated that this church had what it put as “an annual sales volume of $1M – 1,999,999.”
There was recently described for “St. Katharine Drexel Parish of Chicago Church” at 9015 South Harper Avenue a consolidation event on Wednesday evening of March 22, 2017. This was an “Evening of Reflection in Church” pertaining to “St. Ailbe, St. Felicitas, and St. Joachim.” The guest speaker was Mr. Todd Williamson, Director Office for Divine Worship, Archdiocese of Chicago. The parish described as “St. Katharine Drexel Parish of Chicago at St. Ailbe Church” — a parish whose church, St. Ailbe Catholic Church, celebrated its 125th Church Anniversary on November 19, 2017—- raises the issue of church and parish names and the issue of the identity of individual congregations, especially with regard to where those congregations have long been used to worship. The continuity of these congregations is put at risk when they are forced to have their parishes consolidate with others or, worse, forced to have closed their congregations and their architectural house of worship.