Neighbors Help Resurrection of Catholic Shrine in Next Door Location
Posted in Shrine Fire Updates on November 7, 2015

Immediately behind the Shrine can be seen the steeple of First Presbyterian

Immediately behind the Shrine can be seen the steeple of First Presbyterian

First Mass: Sunday, November 15, at 10:00am followed by Social at 12:00 noon

With record speed and support, Woodlawn neighbors and parishioners are working together to help the Shrine of Christ the King, which suffered a devastating fire on October 7, to rise from its ashes in a next door venue located only inches away from this historic landmark church. In collaboration with the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Shrine community is establishing its Mass location for the time being in the unused, vintage gymnasium of its neighbors at First Presbyterian Church of Chicago (6400 South Kimbark Ave).

 At left: Shrine church; At right: windows of the gymnasium are visible behind the tree

“The members and officers of the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago pour out our hearts to our neighbor Shrine of Christ the King,” said Minister Lawrence Brown, pastor of the church. “We have been blessed in so many ways, we felt that we must share some of the blessings in offering a place so that they may be able to worship the God of love… First Presbyterian Church is so happy to be able to help Shrine of Christ the King.”

Immediately behind the Shrine can be seen the steeple of First Presbyterian Shrine community and neighbors rally for the resurrection of the Shrine (Steeple of 1st Presbyterian can be seen to the left)

The Shrine community invites everyone, especially Chicago firefighters, to attend the first solemn High Mass, Infant King devotions, and inaugural ceremony in its interim spiritual home on Sunday, November 15, at 10:00am. Afterwards, a festive reception will be held with refreshments at 12:00noon in the church hall (6400 S. Kimbark Ave). Friends and residents from the neighborhood are welcome to join the Shrine community and the Presbyterian congregation in this celebration of communal partnership.

“The Shrine community is indebted to the leadership and congregation of First Presbyterian,” said Rev. Canon Matthew Talarico, superior of the Institute of Christ the King’s American province, “for the charity of their remarkable hospitality which provides us with the stability of an attractive home. They are permitting the Shrine to continue our service and outreach to the local South Side neighborhoods of Woodlawn and beyond.”

 Altar reredos is removed for cleaning in preparation for its return

This next door location will offer the community the regularity of its normal Mass times, along with the familiar setting created by several items which have been salvaged from the burned church. These include the 25 foot altar reredos, or ornamental backdrop, for the 18th century statue of Christ the Infant King, which is the symbolic centerpiece of the Shrine’s devotion, life and mission. Despite fire, smoke, and water, this Spanish statue of the Christ Child remained standing in its usual place above the altar as much of the roof overhead burned and collapsed. It was then bravely rescued by Chicago firemen, along with the sacred tabernacle containing the Holy Eucharist, thereby marking the first hopeful step in the resurrection and revival of the Shrine community.

The Shrine church is undergoing a complete structural evaluation by the Archdiocese of Chicago, the owner of the building. The Institute and the whole Shrine community express their heartfelt gratitude to Archbishop Blase Cupich and to his collaborators whose continual support and cooperation has been an encouraging blessing. The Shrine clergy and community are deeply thankful to St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church and to the pastor, Father Elias O’Brien O.Carm, for their gracious hospitality during these weeks after the fire. We warmly invite them to join our celebration as well on Sunday, November 15.   

 Tabernacle rescued by firemen is undergoing restoration

The large number of church and sacristy contents affected by fire, smoke and water damage is currently being evaluated by the Institute, the owner of these items, with the help of various experts and of the Institute’s insurance company. Although this careful process is still ongoing, the Institute is already certain that the replacement cost and repair fees of damaged items will considerably exceed the amount of insurance monies. Restoration work has already begun on such items as the tabernacle, altar reredos, statues, vestments, antique liturgical books, and decorative draperies. The Shrine clergy and community are profoundly grateful to all who have made contributions to our restoration fund. Holy Mass is offered by one of the Shrine priests each week for these benefactors. These dollars are also helping to prepare the new Mass location and to procure the appropriate furnishings for the community.

To support and help the Shrine in this work, please go to or send a check to Institute of Christ the King, 6415 S. Woodlawn Ave, Chicago, IL 60637.

We invite you to remain in contact with us for updates on the restoration of items and developments in this community story

Immediately behind the Shrine can be seen the steeple of First Presbyterian

Weekly Mass in house chapel offered for all benefactors