Inaugural Mass for Shrine's Interim Home
Posted in Shrine Fire Updates on November 20, 2015

Despite the colorful autumn leaves, Sunday, November 15, felt like Easter Sunday, as the Shrine community held its inaugural Mass and ceremony at its new interim home in the vintage gymnasium of First Presbyterian Church of Chicago (6400 South Kimbark Ave). Located just 1 block to the east--literally inches from the ashes--of the burned Shrine landmark church, the unused gymnasium built in the 1920’s was converted within just 8 days into a beautiful church space very much resembling the Shrine sanctuary, thanks to the help of over 60 volunteers who worked many hours day and night for this remarkable transformation.

Thus, under the gaze of its iconic steeple, the Shrine’s usual schedule of Masses and events continue at the normal times for the benefit of the faithful and the local community, who regard the Shrine as the spiritual anchor of the neighborhood. Thanks be to Christ the Infant King for this rapid resurrection from the ashes!

The 10am ceremony began with a recording of the Shrine’s bells, which had been silent ever since October 7, the day of the fire when the bell system was destroyed. Then, the celebrant, Canon Matthew Talarico, Provincial Superior for the Institute in the United States, blessed the chapel using the formula from the Roman Ritual.

M:\Pictures\USA apostolates\Chicago\2015\2015-11-15 Inaugural Ceremonies, Upper Room\selection\IMG_5963.jpegNext, a delegation from the Chicago Fire Department, including the Assistant Deputy Fire Commissioner and the Chief of the local fire district, and firefighters from the nearest firehouse, Engine 63 and Truck 16, processed into the church. The same firefighter Lieutenant who rescued the Shrine’s several hundred-year-old statue of Christ the Infant King from the burning church on the day of the fire walked at the head of the procession, carrying the singed statue back to its usual place as the centerpiece of devotion at the Shrine. Having received the statue from the hands of the firefighter hero, Canon Talarico then proceeded to enthrone Christ the Infant King above the high altar before the newly-restored reredos which had been salvaged from the charred interior of the Shrine. In these moments which were both historic and emotional, the faithful sang the hymn “To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King” and knelt to offer a grateful prayer in honor of the Christ Child who remains with His people most especially in times of tragedy such as these.

M:\Pictures\USA apostolates\Chicago\2015\2015-11-15 Inaugural Ceremonies, Upper Room\selection\IMG_6106.jpegM:\Pictures\USA apostolates\Chicago\2015\2015-11-15 Inaugural Ceremonies, Upper Room\selection\IMG_6042.jpegAfterwards, Canon Talarico spoke heartfelt words of appreciation to the firefighters present, whose courage and dedication are characteristic of the great firefighting tradition for which Chicago is well-known the world over.  In gratitude for their service, he then blessed 150 Rosaries in honor of the 150 firefighters who worked to save the church from fire, and distributed them individually to the firefighters. The remaining Rosaries were presented to the Assistant Deputy Commissioner for those firefighters who were not present.

M:\Pictures\USA apostolates\Chicago\2015\2015-11-15 Inaugural Ceremonies, Upper Room\selection\IMG_6406.jpegFollowing the ceremony, Solemn High Mass was celebrated in thanksgiving for so many graces received from Christ the Infant King. After Mass, the Shrine community offered a festive reception in the downstairs hall to show our appreciation to the leadership and congregation of First Presbyterian who were present in attendance, alongside the firefighters and so many residents from the local Woodlawn neighborhood. Special thanks to Minister Lawrence Brown and to the leadership of First Presbyterian for their gracious hospitality to the Shrine community!     

M:\Pictures\USA apostolates\Chicago\2015\2015-11-15 Inaugural Ceremonies, Upper Room\selection\IMG_6339.jpegAll are welcome to visit the Shrine’s interim home, which has been affectionately dubbed the “Upper Room” in reference to Pentecost and to its upstairs location. Holy Masses will be celebrated there on Sundays and Tuesday evenings, on weekday evenings on the 25th day of the month, and on feast days as they occur. Parking is available in the Shrine parking lot or on the street in the usual places. The weekday morning Masses are celebrated in the priory house chapel at 6415 South Woodlawn Ave. For more information, please feel free to call the Shrine at 773-363-7409 or email at

C:\Users\Canonicus Talarico\Desktop\Resurrection\Nov 11 photos\IMG_0726.JPGC:\Users\Canonicus Talarico\Desktop\Resurrection\Nov 13 photos\IMG_0812.JPGWe are deeply grateful to our benefactors whose generous donations have contributed to the refurbishment of the Shrine in its new interim home within the short space of just 8 days. Those charitable dollars have made it possible for us to obtain the 27 pews from an Ohio church, the communion rail from Pennsylvania, confessionals from Wisconsin, holy water font, and rugs which are needed for the longer term use of the Upper Room chapel. This support has also permitted the organ move from the priory chapel to the choir loft of the new space, as well as much-needed professional floor cleaning in the gym, sacristy and hallway areas. The tabernacle rescued from the church by firefighters is currently being refinished, hopefully in time for Christmas. Other ongoing restoration items include statues, antique reliquaries and altar missals. The vestments and altar frontals are still being professionally cleaned by specialists in a very careful process. Many decorative draperies which were saved from the church have been professionally cleaned and then installed to help the transformation from gym into chapel.


Holy Mass is gratefully offered each week for our many Shrine benefactors!