Saturday, January 19, 2019

St. Camillus Church will close

'Bad-tasting medicine' comes to Garfield Ridge

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

Sad news in Garfield Ridge, as the Chicago Archdiocese has
A photo from 2011, when St. Camillus celebrated its 90th anniversary.
announced that St. Camillus Church will close no later than June 30, 2020--just short of its 100th anniversary--as part of a larger Catholic Church downsizing across the city and suburbs.

The announcement was made public via a press release sent out Friday night.

As part of its Renew My Church effort, St. Camillus Parish and its neighbor to the northwest, St. Jane de Chantal Parish, will merge, effective July 1, 2019. The church and school at St. Jane will remain open, Archdiocesan officials said.

The newly created parish will bear a new name--yet to be determined by Cardinal Blase Cupich--and both pastors will be transferred elsewhere, with a new pastor named, presumably in the spring of 2019.

The move was not entirely a surprise to parishioners. They, along with the faithful at St. Daniel the Prophet and Our Lady of the Snows, had in recent months been part of a Renew My Church planning process that made it clear there would be a downsizing.

Archdiocesan officials said that the churches at St. Dan's and OLS would remain as is, for now. Their schools will remain open "subject to maintaining enrollment and financial sustainability."


The goal of Renew My Church, Archdiocesan officials say, is to “make disciples, build communities and inspire witness,” according to a statement.

Renew My Church is the Archdiocese of Chicago’s “response to Jesus Christ’s call and our invitation for renewal. Called by Jesus Christ, we are making disciples, building communities and inspiring witness. The Renew My Church process will transform the Archdiocese over the next several years by working with groupings of parishes to determine how they will achieve the goal of having vibrant, life-giving faith communities accessible to all Catholics.”

“Today, we face a trending crisis of faith,” the unnamed narrator of a Renew My Church video says. “Fewer people than ever are connected with organized religion. Many who identify as Catholic do not attend weekly Mass. Overall, we see an increase in signs of a broken world. As a result of this crisis, we find ourselves with less people and financial resources for ministry.”

Despite the crisis, the video offers a confident and optimistic view of the future.

“We are a strong and committed church that will work together to overcome the challenges we face today and in the centuries to come,” the narrator adds. Through the Renew My Church initiative, the Archdiocese “will recommit our local church to the Gospel commission to make disciples, build vital communities of faith and inspire witness to bring the light and hope of Christ to a world in need.” 

Last fall, Archdiocesan officials released another Renew My Church video—seemingly in response to pushback they have received from some Catholics skeptical of the process.

Entitled “Trust the Process,” the video includes an exhortation by Karen Moretti, a suburban Catholic and member of the new St. Mother Theodore Guerin Parish—a result of the Renew My Church consolidation of parishes in River Grove and Elmwood Park.

“Keep the vision alive, because it will be difficult when you’re going through your [Renew My Church] groupings,” Moretti said. “If you keep the vision, you’ll realize that what you give up now will be for a much greater future. It’s kind of like taking a bad-tasting medicine and then feeling a lot better later.”

Like most Catholic parishes in the U.S., those in Garfield Ridge have suffered in recent decades from declining Mass attendance, financial contributions and numbers of priests available to administer sacraments.

The planned consolidation of St. Jane and St. Camillus comes on the heels of a merger a few miles southeast. St. Adrian in Chicago Lawn and Queen of the Universe in West Lawn merged last July as the newly named Mary, Mother of Mercy Parish.

East of Garfield Ridge, four parishes in Brighton Park are consolidating, as well.

Such mergers are not new. Decades ago on the Southwest Side, Archdiocesan officials consolidated parishes in West Englewood. St. Justin Martyr, St. Mary of Mount Carmel, St. Theodore and others were either merged or closed.

A more recent example exists in McKinley Park, where Blessed Sacrament Parish is the result of the consolidation of three parishes—Our Lady of Good Counsel, St. Maurice and Sts. Peter and Paul.

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