Thursday, February 25, 2016

Standing with the Shrine of Christ King Sovereign Priest, Chicago, Illinois


On Sunday, November 15, 2015, the community at the Institute of Christ King Sovereign Priest held its first Mass in “The Upper Room” at First Presbyterian Church. Located on the same South Side Chicago block as the Shrine church, First Presbyterian is one of many stand-out contributors who are helping keep the Institute and Shrine alive in the Woodlawn neighborhood. Over 200 parishioners and visitors attended the Inaugural Ceremony and Solemn High Mass that Sunday, led by Canon Matthew Talarico. Being fortunate enough to visit for the proceedings myself, I got to capture a glimpse of the groups that both contribute to and receive support from the Shrine. These communities of folks are key to keeping the Institute embedded as part of Woodlawn and the South Side.

The Institute is currently raising funds to bring the Shrine church to its rightful glory. You can help restore this Chicago landmark and help the Shrine community be contributing to the GoFundMe campaign.

Playing a prominent role in both saving the church through the fire and the ceremony was Chicago’s Fire Department. Dozens of Chicago’s bravest took on the fire the morning of October 7th to keep the structure from being a total loss. Some items, like the statue of the Infant King and the high altar paneling only survived the flames because of their fine efforts. Several pews in The Upper Room were set aside to host many of those firefighters. As Canon Talarico and the Shrine community recognized the squad, each of them were given a rosary as a further token of thanks.

“Today is an Easter moment.”

The parishioners were in full force at the Shrine from well before Mass time through to the end of the reception several hours later. Starting with literally two attendees at their first Mass a little over a decade ago, the community at the Shrine now numbers in the hundreds. Furthermore, the Institute has expanded to fill eleven other churches in the United States, primarily in the Midwest. The Institute of Christ King Sovereign Priest is best known as a purveyor of the traditional Latin Mass. While most Catholic masses are given in the local vernacular language today, the Latin Mass has been sung (yes, sung is the proper term) for centuries and is still a viable form of worship in the Catholic liturgy.

As part of the Latin Mass, it is traditional for parishioners to kneel at the communion rails to receive Communion.

While the support of outside neighbors and organizations was important in bringing the Institute to The Upper Room, the parishioners provide the lifeblood that make the Institute thrive despite its setbacks. Their efforts were essential in making a worship space out of an indoor tennis court in The Upper Room. The youth of the Shrine often participate in the Mass as altar servers and choir signers. Their willingness to give their sweat, money, and time allows the Shrine and its work in the Woodlawn neighborhood to remain alive.

“We will not be defined by this tragedy.”

The campaign to save the Shrine church has had waves of “Good Fridays” and “Easter Sundays” since the Inaugural Mass at The Upper Room. Early in the new year, the Archdiocese of Chicago applied for a demolition permit after concluding it was cost-prohibitive to save the building[1]. Shortly after, a bevy of donations totaling over $500,000 gave the Institute just enough money to bring Archdiocese back to the negotiation table and explore the possibility of slowly restoring this locally unique example of Renaissance revival architecture[2]. As of press time, these talks are still ongoing. Hope to save the Shrine church is alive.

“But, today, just inches from those ashes, our Shrine community is rising up to honor our Infant King, under the gaze of the church steeple which is our home.”

What started as an empty indoor tennis court transformed into a remarkable worship space within a couple weeks after the fire at the Shrine church. Sitting on the same block as the Shrine church, visitors and parishioners alike are exposed to the gravity of the fire at the Shrine while simultaneously shown the strength that remains in the Shrine community and its supporters in Woodlawn. While the Institute has been recovering what religious articles it can from the church and its other properties, many of the “church parts” that are in these photographs were built or shared from carpenters and closed churches.

These pews came to The Upper Room from Ohio.

Volunteer labor from the Institute’s church in Wausau, Wisconsin helped build a new altar, while the high altar paneling was saved from the Shrine church after the fire.

Shrine of Christ King Sovereign Priest

Additional Sources:

*Quotes within the article come from Canon Matthew Talarico’s homily at the Inaugural Ceremony and High Mass in The Upper Room on November 15, 2015.

**Special thanks goes to the canons, staff, and volunteers at the Shrine, who invited me to visit and offered much of the information and access at the Shrine that allowed this post to come to life.

No comments:

Post a Comment