WIN: Our Lady of Victory Church Parishioners Challenge Closure in Vatican Court and Win! (Chicago 7 2021)

Our Lady of Victory, 1954, Meyer and Cook (upper church) 5212 W. Agatite Ave. Photo credit: Eric Allix Rogers
Our Lady of Victory, 1954, Meyer and Cook (upper church) 5212 W. Agatite Ave. Photo credit: Eric Allix Rogers
Petition to Save Our Lady of Victory! Photo Credit: Save Our Lady of Victory

“Our Lady of Victory, located at 5212 W. Agatite Ave, is the oldest Catholic parish on the Northwest Side, said Susanna Ernst, the president of the Northwest Chicago Historical Society. She is also the president of Save OLV, the organization that fought to overturn the archdiocese’s decree.

“Ernst, who has been a parishioner at Our Lady of Victory since 2006, said the deep community ties to the church and the fact that the church was solvent and not in debt made the decree “a hard pill to swallow.

“‘There were people that were sobbing’ when the church closed, Ernst said, ‘because they’d been going to the church for generations — their parents, their grandparents, their great-grandparents, sometimes their great-great-grandparents.’

“When the archdiocese decreed Our Lady of Victory would be closed, parishioners began appealing to save their church as they knew it. First, they appealed the consolidation of Our Lady of Victory with other local churches, which was denied by both the Archdiocese of Chicago and later the Vatican.

“The last Mass at Our Lady of Victory Church was celebrated in November 2021.

“After the later decree that the church would be deconsecrated in addition to being closed, the parish tried again. They were denied by the Archdiocese of Chicago, but were ultimately successful at the highest level — the Vatican.

“‘We went through the decree, and we refuted every line,’ Ernst said of the appeal to the Vatican. The decree cited factors like declining attendance and financial woes.

“On April 11, the archdiocese announced the initial decree was revoked for now. Archdiocese spokesperson Susan Thomas told the Sun-Times the matter will be revisited next month. The decree was revoked because the meetings to discuss the fate of the church took place over Zoom, not in-person.

“Ernst added that Our Lady of Victory, which was built in 1906, is more than just a house of worship. It is a historical landmark in a neighborhood that has few remaining.

“‘The idea that one of the few beautiful, wonderful historic spaces that we have could see the wrecking ball, that is devastating to me,’ Ernst said.

“If the decree is reinstated, Ernst said, the historical society will pursue landmark status for the building.” (Odom, Chicago Sun-Times, 4/24/23)

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