Questions Regarding For All Generations?
A few questions have arisen since we announced the For All Generations campaign in November. One question—asked by a young person, along with a drawing: How did you bild this coirch [= How did you build this church]? Why is this church so high? Why are there so much [sic] benches?
The church was build with the faith of Polish immigrants, who wanted to give thanks to God for bringing them safely to the United States and for giving them an opportunity to prosper and have a family. It was built “so high” because those immigrants wanted to be generous with God and to help lift their sights to God every time they entered the church. There are so many benches because a hundred years ago there were so many people going to church to show their love and appreciation to Go.
Why the Campaign now when the Archdiocese is trying to close churches?
The Archdiocese is going through the Renew My Church program, to consolidate resources—including parishes—in an effort to better direct personnel and financial resources to effectively meet the spiritual needs of Chicago Catholics and to evangelize non-Catholics and fallen away Catholics. So—one may ask—if we don’t know how Renew My Church is going to impact St. Mary of the Angels, then why spend the time and money to fix the church?
Shortly after Renew My Church was announced, one of the cornices fell off the church building. We responded to this by surveying the exterior of the whole church, identifying safety issues and repair needs. Parishioners of St. Mary of the Angels responded by raising over $1 million in cash and pledges. We spent $150,000 of emergency repairs, leaving about $1 million dollars for building needs.
Having consulted with the Archdiocese of Chicago, the parish leadership decided not to sit back and wait, but to continue the restoration that began in 1990. We will not sit on our hands, put off maintenance of the church and school, which would let things decay further and pass on to the next generation the burden of dilapidated buildings. We recognize that things have changed: the Polish community who built this church over 100 years ago has left a great treasure. While the Kennedy Expressway, built in 1960, cut off a third of our parishioners, it now brings hundreds of thousands of people pass the St. Mary of the Angels each day. This is not a detriment but a great opportunity to further our parish’s evangelizing efforts.
A number of people have recently told me about how they or how their spouses were drawn to the church’s beauty—perhaps initially out of curiosity—and through their encounter with beauty they experienced an encounter with Jesus Christ and with his Blessed Mother. This is priceless! Think of how many more people we can bring to Christ if we can improve our exterior witness with a beautiful mosaic of Mary overlooking Chicago, the Kennedy Expressway, and the Metra Train lines.
Let’s look at Renew My Church and our For All Generations campaign as an opportunity to grow our parish: there will be more Confessions, more attending sacramental preparation, more interest in the Faith and our RCIA program, more weddings, more kids in our CCD program, etc. More too will take interest in the great school we have, and want to send their children here. As we go through the process, let’s look at the possibilities of making our parish and our Archdiocese stronger and more effective.
Please pray for St. Mary of the Angels and our For All Generations campaign as we support one another during this time of renewal and growth.
Fr. John R. Waiss
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