CHICAGO (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago will be spared the wrecking ball. The archdiocese of Chicago is deeding over the church and surrounding land to the Institute of Christ the King, who had up till then been leasing the building.
A campaign to save the Shrine has been underway ever since it suffered a fire in October, ripping through the interior and destroying the roof. Initial fundraising efforts raised $67,000, and more recently, more than $650,000 was pledged toward rebuilding the Church — more than enough to stabilize the building.
The church has served as provincial headquarters for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a priestly society that offers the Traditional liturgy, with a community of about 200 faithful who travel from various parts of Chicago to attend its weekly liturgies.
In the middle of the pledge drive, the community got word Friday that the archdiocese had obtained a demolition permit, raising fears that in spite of the parish and community's efforts, the archdiocese would go ahead and tear down the historic Chicago landmark. The archdiocese announced the same day, however, that it was still in talks with the canons of the Institute of Christ the King (ICK) and were exploring other options.
Sunday, the archdiocese posted a press release:
The Archdiocese of Chicago today announced that it has deeded the Shrine of Christ the King in Woodlawn and the land on which it stands to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. The members of the apostolic institute have confirmed that they have received sufficient funds for the immediate stabilization of the historic Shrine building, ravaged by fire in October 2015 and which has been determined to be in hazardous condition. The Institute has committed itself to promptly remedying the dangerous condition created by the fire and then following through with the full restoration of the building. ...
The Archdiocese of Chicago is supportive of the Institute's efforts to maintain its presence in the Woodlawn community and continue its ministry there. The Archdiocese wishes the Institute every success.
Canon Matthew Talarico, provincial superior for the ICK, said, "We express our deep gratitude to all the individuals and organizations whose most generous and timely donations helped bring us to this moment. We are mindful of the dangerous condition of the Shrine and will begin stabilization immediately with funds already collected."
The Coalition to Save the Shrine is also rejoicing over the news. Emily Nielsen, a member of the Coalition and a parishioner, remarked, "This is wonderful news! The Coalition is delighted that the Archdiocese was able to find such an innovative solution to save the Shrine."
Gabriel Piemonte, another member of the Coalition, commented, "This is great news, but it means that the Coalition's work has only just started. We have said all along that the Institute is a part of the Woodlawn family. If they are staying and taking on this challenge, we will all take it on with them. We are happy to help the Institute and its congregation with their new responsibilities."
And Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, which helped spearhead the pledge drive to save the Shrine, said, "We would like to thank the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Canons of the Institute of Christ the King, the congregation of the Shrine, the City of Chicago and the community of Woodlawn, along with all of our preservation partners, in this effort to save a Chicago Landmark building, and a beacon of hope in our City for the future."
The total amount needed to restore the Shrine remains unknown, although estimates range between $3 and $6 million. At present, the amount the ICK paid the archdiocese to obtain the deed to the property is undisclosed.
The Institute will be holding a Mass of thanksgiving on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, followed by a luncheon in the church hall. For more information, contact Fr. Talarico at email@example.com.
Donate to the Shrine's rebuilding efforts here.