THREATENED: Alderwoman Taylor’s Letter Requests Archdiocese of Chicago to Lift the Ban and Reopen The Shrine

Emily Nielsen Holding Save the Shrine Coalition Poster, surrounded by Gabriel Piemonte, Lisa DiChiera, Ward Miller, Bonnie McDonald and devoted preservation partners. Photo Credit: Save the Shrine Coalition

“May 9, 2023

Archdiocese of Chicago, 835 N. Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611
His Eminence, Blase Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago
Ms. Betsy Bohlen, COO of the Archdiocese of Chicago
Mr. Eric Wollan, Chief Capital Assets Officer of the Archdiocese of Chicago

“I am writing to you as the Alderman of the 20th Ward to express my concern surrounding the situation at the Shrine of Christ the King, one of our Ward’s architectural treasures and a congregation that is a valued part of our community. As you know, my predecessors in this office have been committed to the preservation of the Shrine/St. Gelasius/St. Clara as a local Landmark and neighborhood anchor. When I was elected in 2019, I was delighted to see the continuing restoration progress underway at the Shrine, and I felt assured of the continued success of this inspiring renovation.

“Since the summer, I have been deeply concerned by your administration’s decision to suppress the lnstitute’s ability to operate at the Shrine. The Institute and the ever-growing congregation of Shrine faithful have been an integral part of the 20th Ward since they first arrived at the prior Cardinal’s invitation in 2003. They have taken on a challenging project in restoring the Shrine and have demonstrated a remarkable capacity to attract both people and resources into an area with a very small Catholic population. While many Shrine faithful may not live in Woodlawn, we know that the Shrine is their spiritual home, and we consider them a vital pa1i of our community.

“Shrine faithful bring welcome dollars to our local coffee shops, restaurants, and small businesses. In addition, the restoration of the Shrine itself has attracted a significant amount of resources to a pa1i of our City which, as you know, is sorely underserved. It has been inspiring for my constituents to see that both individual donors and prestigious organizations like the National Fund for Sacred Places consider their neighborhood worth investing in rather than divesting from. I know they share my concern that the instability introduced into the Institute’s position at the Shrine by your administration’s decision last summer will deter donors in the future and cut the Shrine off from the further millions it needs to be a fully functional and operational building up to City of Chicago code.

“On behalf of my constituents, I am asking your administration to restore confidence in the Shrine’s restoration by allowing the Institute to operate according to the terms of your original agreement with them. I am hopeful that the Shrine’s restoration may continue to flourish.

“Sincerely,
Jeanette Taylor
20th Ward Alderwoman City of Chicago”

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