A Chicago make over

Yes, folks, it is possible to renovate without wreckovating.  It is also possible to unwreckovate.  Much can be accomplished with the combination of intelligence, good will, and lots and lots of money.

The Institute of Christ the King, always good at tapping money, has made over a church in Chicago: the former St. Clare, then St. Gelasius,…


was gutted….


Plans were implemented…


And the work was done.



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  1. Matthew says:

    Actually, the work you pointed out is temporary. They still have a long way to go to completely finish the church.

  2. Jonathan Bennett says:

    Yes, all that is just temporary. They were using the basement of the rectory as a chapel, but the congregation has outgrown the space so they are now moving into the main church itself, which is still under renovation and will be for a good number of years.

    Tomorrow Cardinal Francis George will crown the statue of the Infant Christ which will be the centerpiece of the High Altar.

    Eventually the church will reflect early Italian baroque styles, notably Santa Maria in Campitelli in Rome.

    There is a website dedicated to the renovations which outlines the plans for the Shrine- http://www.historic-landmark.org/

  3. Little Gal says:

    The church is being rebuilt because of a fire. There was no wreckovating. I have to say that even the temporary ‘finish’ looks beautiful! I especially love the red columns… I wonder what the order’s secret is re: fundraising?

  4. Brian Murphy says:

    It is amazing how good a temporary setting looks. We can do alot with just a little to make our sanctuaries a more fitting place of worship of Our Lord. The Institute of Christ the King is showing us the way.

  5. Sid Cundiff says:

    If Santa Maria in Campitelli is the model, the result will be sublime!

  6. Jonathan Bennett says:

    It is also worth noting that the Institute did not gut the church as it was in the top photograph of this post. A fire did that in the 1970s, after which the interior was only partially restored. One of the reasons the Archdiocese of Chicago placed this church into the hands of the Institute was in hopes of restoring it to it’s former glory (which the Institute has done with other churches).

  7. albertusminor says:

    When I saw the top picture, I thought, “I know that church!” Then I read the history. Yes, it was for many years run by the Carmelite Fathers (O.Carm.) and, thus, one of the places where the ancient and beautiful Carmelite Rite would have been celebrated and was also the National Shrine of the Little Flower. Search abebooks.com or addall.com for any books by the Shrine’s longtime Director, Fr. Albert H. Dolan, O.Carm., who, years before international jet travel, went back and forth to Lisieux, interviewing the Saint’s sisters, and who devoted virtually his entire priesthood to writing/preaching eloquently about her. Perhaps some day the Institute will invite some future traditional Carmelites to celebrate the Carmelite Rite there once more (if Ecclesia Dei decides that the former Rites of the Religious Orders are also restored by Summorum Pontificum).

  8. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    It’s news to me that the traditional rites of religious orders were ever restricted. Can anyone help out here?

  9. Jonathan Bennett says:


    There are two groups of Carmelites (though not part of either the Order of Carmelites or the Discalced Carmelites) in the United States who use the Rite of the Holy Sepulchre, and a third community is preparing to use it. However all three communities are strictly cloistered (I believe one is a community of hermits).

  10. Jonathan Bennett says:

    Fr Renzo di Lorenzo,

    The traditional Rites of the religious orders (those Rites that remained after the Council of Trent) were never officially restricted by Rome, however they were mostly abandoned in the late 1960s and 70s in favor of the Novus Ordo. The Carmelite Rite (Rite of the Holy Sepulchre) was abandoned in 1972 I believe. Other religious orders did the same.

    I think the only communities that kept their traditional Rite were the Carthusians, but they heavily reformed the Rite in the 1980s to bring it in line with the NO.

  11. Fr Renzo di Lorenzo says:

    Thanks, Jonathan Bennett. Therefore, any members of religous orders… you would know this anyway, I suppose, but there’s no waiting for any derestrition for your own rites, since they were never restricted in the first place!

  12. Sue Sims says:

    The saddest thing, in a way, isn’t the destruction by fire, but the picture of the full-to-bursting pews. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a church that full since I became a Catholic nearly ten years ago, apart from Midnight Mass at Christmas. Maybe the USA is different, but English churches are half-empty all the time.

  13. Michael says:

    And that is not the only Church that is being unwreckovated at an ICKSP apostolate.

    Old St. Patrick’s Oratory in Kansas City, Missouri has had almost its entire floor structure replaced and repaired by volunteer labor over the last two years and the plaster and paint contractors will start making it beautiful this next month.

    Follow this link for information and pictures. http://www.oldstpatrick.org/nav_page.html

  14. a Premonstratensian says:

    Yes, I frequently pray the breviary of our Premonstratensian’rite’ and we do sing our chants too. There was no abrogation of immemorial custom and the fact that we can still ‘draw’ from those rites chants etc. indicates that the ‘rite’ can still be used.

  15. Jacob says:

    I need to drive over to Chicago sometime…

    It saddens me that I live down the interstate about three or four hours and yet I’m so far away. This kind of thing is so far off the radar that my diocese hasn’t even publicly published its SP guidelines though they exist.

  16. Simon Platt says:

    This was a really encouraging post for a Prestonian! Readers might like to know that the ICKSP has offered to take responsibility for the church of St. Walburge, Preston. Preston is an English town with a strong catholic heritage but which is threatened with the loss of no fewer than ten of its twenty-odd parishes over the next decade. St. Walburge’s is first on the list. Please pray that our bishop, Patrick O’Donoghue of Lancaster, will accept the institute’s offer. It seems to me that, for us, Summorum Pontificum is providential – the church in Preston needs reinvigorating; it needs dynamic men of faith to achieve this, and if our bishop has the courage to respond to the Motu Proprio by inviting the ICKSP to take care of this parish I think that will bear much good fruit.

    I am posting some information on the traditional Latin mass in the Preston area at prestonlatinmass.blogspot.com. At the moment we have a weekly traditional mass celebrated each Sunday, normally by Fr. Hudson of the ICKSP, and occasional traditional masses celebrated by sympathetic diocesan priests. We are very grateful for this ministry, but we really need a normal traditional parish life. Please pray for that intention.

  17. Parishoner from Shrine of Christ the King says:


    It has only been temporarily prepared for use by Cardinal George. The high altar in the back is a painted one that was left over from an old church. Temporary pews were put donated by a group of nuns. The ceiling, walls, and much of the floor are bare. This project has to date cost almost nothing.

    For more information, see http://www.historic-landmark.org.

  18. Carmelus says:

    Jonathan Bennett,

    I believe you mean the M. Carm monks in Wyoming, O. Carm hermits in MN, but what is the third?

    “There are two groups of Carmelites (though not part of either the Order of Carmelites or the Discalced Carmelites) in the United States who use the Rite of the Holy Sepulchre, and a third community is preparing to use it. However all three communities are strictly cloistered (I believe one is a community of hermits).”

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