Monday greetings from the home office here in Franklin Park.
This was a wonderful family weekend for me. My sister and brother-in-law were in town from Boston and on Friday, they surprised me with a visit from their daughter, my niece from Atlanta.
As Sunday morning approached, however, I could feel myself getting more and more tense. You see, yesterday morning my parish, Saint James, had scheduled a time of farewell for our shuttered church building. The week before, in our parish bulletin, a notice from the Archdiocese of Chicago appeared. In part:
11. Considering that the Code of Canon Law, as legislated in canon 1222 §1, provides that if there are grave causes which render a certain church impossible for use for divine worship, the diocesan bishop may relegate it to profane but not sordid use; and
12. Considering that the Presbyteral Council has been updated about this; I, the Rev. Msgr. John Canary, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Chicago,in the name of the Archbishop of Chicago,
That in accord with the norm of canon 1222 § 1, the ecclesiastical structure which is the church edifice of St. James, located on the west side of the 2900 block of South Wabash Avenue in the City of Chicago, is recognized as being relegated to profane, non sordid use, and further that it is to be demolished.
The Rev. Msgr. John Canary
Jimmy M. Lago
The farewell was publicized in the bulletin for several weeks. The church's main doors were to be open before and between Masses and the parish received permission from the Archdiocese to have a small portion of the vestibule available for people to walk in, take a last look, pray, and grieve for this beloved edifice. A ceremony of farewell, with a closing of the doors, was scheduled at 1:00 P.M.
My own nervousness arose from my intuitive sense that somehow all of this would end up being not the prayerful farewell that was envisioned by the liturgy committee, but a tension-filled several hours for our parish, with those who want to save the building from demolition somehow interfering with the planned moments of prayer and reflection.
Sad to say, I just did not want to pull my family members into any kind of stressful or sad moment. So we all got up early and walked to Old Saint Pat's, a few blocks from where I live. Of course, my thoughts were twenty-nine blocks south. And during Mass I prayed for Saint James.
Late last night, I received, via e-mail, some photos of the farewell ceremony, as well as e-mails that were quite sad, e-mails that described what occurred yesterday before and between Masses. What I suspected would occur apparently did occur. So, I was glad that I didn't bring my family members to Saint James yesterday. And this saddens me very deeply. I have been so proud to say that I am a member of Saint James Parish and when I have brought family members and visitors there in the past, even in our old hall where we currently worship, they have been moved by the the sense of diversity and unity within that diversity. Had I brought my family members there yesterday, I am afraid that they would have witnessed just the opposite.
Please pray for my parish, Saint James.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.