Sunday, January 25, 2015

Event Report: Doors Open Milwaukee 2014, Part 2

Picking up from the first part of this series (which I posted about two months ago), here we have Milwaukee's answer to the uptake in Latin Mass communities.  St. Stanislaus Oratory is currently southeastern Wisconsin's sole home for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.  The Institute, based in Chicago, is probably best known for bringing the old Latin Mass back to a number of cities across the country.  

In light of the Latin Mass being celebrated here, you see everything on the high altar oriented to where the Eucharist should be.  "Should be" because during the tours for Doors Open Milwaukee, the priests moved the Eucharist out of the tabernacle (top of this photo) to help avoid irreverent movement around the Host. 


Left: Reliquary containing a relic of St. Thomas, Apostle and Martyr.
Right: One of two angels flanking the high altar. 

An important trait about the Institute: They seem quite intent on restoring the oftentimes historic church structures that they occupy.  The major theme for the discussion about the church at Doors Open was the planned restoration project aimed at bringing the church near it's original look from the late 1800s.  I say this here as one of the priest's particular speaking notes was directed to the Polish White Eagle at the top of this photo.  The White Eagle has been a significant Polish icon for generations and the crest shown here is original to the church (Milwaukee's Polish "mother" church).  Just out of view of the picture is a big speaker that keeps the White Eagle practically hidden from most of the church.  Among many other changes, the speaker system is supposed to be altered to reveal this Polish iconography once again.


St. Mary, beneath the Cross.  

A beautiful dome mosaic above the Sanctuary.  

"...and that Musky was this big coming out of the water!"  Just kidding, but this is what comes to mind every time I see this picture.  The summary of the planned church restoration was well delivered, even without fish tales.

Doors Open Milwaukee attendees mill around in the Sanctuary asking questions after the presentation.

St. Stanislaus is another of the more fortunate churches in the inner-city Midwest.  Like many of the Chicago churches that I reviewed around the holidays, it came to life by way of a strong group of immigrants.  As the neighborhood changed and daughter parishes sprung from the original St. Stanislaus parish boundaries, attendance decreased drastically.  Similar to St. John Cantius in Chicago, St. Michael in Wausau, and St. Francis de Sales in St. Louis (the latter two I need to write articles for someday) an enthusiastic community giving the Latin Mass arrived and gave St. Stanislaus new life.  The restoration plans should only help bolster the local church community and the surrounding neighborhood.

St. Stanislaus stands next to its former school building, just off of Historic Mitchell Street, the "Polish Grand Avenue" of years past.  The street is now thriving as a center of commerce for Milwaukee's Hispanic community.

With over 150 different sites to visit, Doors Open Milwaukee has been an increasing success in each of its four years.  Catholic sites have been a mainstay in the event since its beginning, and I can only anticipate that this will continue.  It certainly is a great way to break out of one's shell for a weekend and see how other churches, businesses, landmarks, and the people that run them in Milwaukee go about their existence.

Also, a great article describing the upcoming restoration at St. Stanislaus can be see here from Bobby Tanzilo at

Additional Sources and a Disclaimer
I have been volunteering and been enthusiastic about the effort that Doors Open Milwaukee and its mother organization, Historic Milwaukee, Inc. have made for over two years now.  Certainly I believe their annual event is worth attending, along with the numerous other programs that Historic Milwaukee, Inc. puts on.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

St. John Cantius, Chicago, Illinois - Christmas in Chicago (Kind of Late for) Advent Series, Part 4

Here is the last stop for the 2014 Christmas season Chicago Church Chase.  Here we have a parish like Sts. Hyacinth, Mary of the Angels, and Stanislaus Kostka, originally Polish.  Like St. Mary of the Angels especially, this church came dangerously close to being shuttered in the late 20th Century and has survived.  The biggest thing that makes this parish unique is that it has transformed into possibly Chicago's best known home for the Latin Mass.  Take a close look up the aisle and you'll see that there is only a high altar here.

Gothic temporary Nativity scene.  The poinsettias complement the generally dark complexion of the church wonderfully. 

"Jezusowi dopomaga szymon cyrenejczyk."  (Polish)
"Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus." (English)
Even with the presence of the Latin Mass, signs of the original Polish presence still abound.

A stunning display of the Pietà

Side altar devoted to Our Lady of Częstochowa and Child.

St. Mary.

St. Clare of Assisi.

If I had more photos in focus from these confessionals, I would have made a post featuring them alone.  Here we see a pair of ornate confessionals with a statue of Jesus consoling a sinner in the middle.  A closer look at this statue allows for deep looks at the sorrow of the sinner and the merciful response in Jesus' face and posture.  I don't compare a lot of reconciliation stations, but this one is impressive in display and I think it gives the visitor a chance to take stock in the importance of the Sacrament (or even the concept) of Reconciliation for many.

St. Lawrence, with a gridiron representing his death as a martyr.

Another, perhaps hidden gem at St. John Cantius:  Tucked away from the church proper is an incredible 1/3 scale replica of the Gothic altar at St. Mary's Church in Krakow, Poland.  This replica of the 15th Cenutry Wit Stwosz was completed by Michal Batkiewicz in 2003 [1].

Not even the floors escape the artistic influence.

St. Cecilia.

While the Polish residential districts were of incredible scale around the church in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, much of the area around St, John Cantius is now industrial or grounded under the Kennedy Expressway (Interstates 90 and 94).  It is the Latin Mass that makes this parish thrive today, and folks come from all over Chicagoland to attend Mass here.

It is clearly late for wishing a Merry Christmas, but I hope you and yours have had a joyous and safe Holiday Season and that your 2015 is full of blessings and enough exploration to keep things interesting.  Thanks for reading this and my other posts!

St. John Cantius Parish

Additional Sources
[1] McNamara, Denis R.,. Heavenly City: The Architectural Tradition of Catholic Chicago, Chicago, IL: Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 2005, 52.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Epiphany Sunday, Blessing the Chalk

Chalk awaiting distribution among parishioners and visitors at St. John Cantius Catholic Church in Chicago from the 2013 Christmas season.  It is common custom among many Catholics to take the blessed chalk after Epiphany and mark the entryways of their homes as a blessing throughout the year.

St. John Cantius Parish