2010: A look back around the archdiocese

By Daniel P. Smith | Contributor
Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010 was a year of celebrations in the Archdiocese of Chicago, as a number of institutions marked important anniversaries, as well as a year of political battles over health care, marriage and immigration. Catholic Charities and other agencies struggled to alleviate the economic pain caused by the ongoing recession, and Catholic schools marked a year in which no schools closed — and elementary schools in Chicago showed a modest enrollment increase.


— The debate over national health care reform heated up in January, with Cardinal George joining the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in asking Catholics to contact their senators and representatives to advocate for health care reform that would not provide federal funding for abortion, would protect health care workers’ rights to follow their consciences and would provide health care to immigrants.

The bishops opposed the health care law passed in March, saying it does not offer strong enough protection for conscience rights or against federal funding of abortion, nor does it include immigrants, points Cardinal George reiterated in his closing address as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in November. It also opened a rift between the bishops’ conference and the Catholic Health Association, which supported the bill.

— The push for immigration reform also moved into the spotlight in January with National Migration Week and stayed on the stage for much of the year, with local Catholics participating in a national march for immigration rights in Washington in March; the passage of an Arizona law requiring local police to check the immigration or citizenship status of anyone they suspect of illegal status in April, a local march and rally May 1; a Mass to pray for immigrants in August; and a national conference on immigration reform in November.

— A massive Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti sparked an outpouring of support among Chicago- area Catholics. The magnitude 7 quake killed an estimated 230,000 people, injured 300,000 people and left a million people homeless.

In the two months after the earthquake, the Archdiocese of Chicago collected $2.8 million for Catholic Relief Services efforts to respond to the disaster.


 — Catholic Charities saw sustained increases in demand at its food pantries and feeding programs, and announced a plan for a monthlong food and financial drive in March to help keep pantry shelves stocked.

— Parishes also continued to offer support groups and prayer for and with their unemployed members. In Orland Hills, Tom McMahon of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish’s H.O.P.E. Ministry said, ”God is not like MapQuest. His plan is not visible to us. Without seeing the route before us, it’s easy to become afraid and fearful. We’re trying to combat that with our gatherings.”


— Catholics gathered at the state capitol in Springfield on March 3 to advocate for Catholic schools, unborn babies and the poor and marginalized. More than 1,000 people from around the state participated in “Catholics at the Capitol,” which started with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal George.

— Cardinal George announced the introduction of the sainthood cause of Father Augustus Tolton, the first acknowledged African- American priest in the United States. Born a slave, Tolton and his mother, brother and sister escaped to Quincy, Ill., where he served after being ordained in Rome. After a few years, he was reassigned to the Archdiocese of Chicago, where he was serving at the time of his death in 1897.


— Thousands of Polish Catholics attended an April 18 memorial Mass at Holy Name Cathedral for Polish President Lech Kaczynski and some 90 others killed in a plane crash April 10 in Russia.


— Fourteen men were ordained priests for the Archdiocese of Chicago May 22. They ranged in age from 25 to 42, and half were born in the United States. The others came from Kenya, Mexico, Peru and Poland.

— The Archdiocese of Chicago announced plans to prepare for the introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal in Advent 2011.

— Cardinal George blessed the former Our Lady of the Angels Convent as the Our Lady of the Angels Mission expanded. The mission now is raising money to repair and restore the Our Lady of the Angels Church.


— Construction started on the new Old St. Mary’s School building on South Michigan Avenue. The parish, which once was home to the first Catholic grade school in Chicago, started with a preschool class of 18 in 2004 and now has more than 200 children in preschool through fifth grade.

— The Office for Evangelization announced a positive reaction to the Catholics Come Home campaign, with parishes reporting increased Mass attendance, more people taking part in the sacrament of reconciliation and a greater sense of pride and Catholic identity among their parishioners. The archdiocese decided to follow up with a second Catholics Come Home campaign beginning in Advent.

— Cardinal George visited Cuba June 23-24. He traveled to Santiago, Cuba’s second-largest city, where he met with priests and celebrated Mass in the cathedral. He also visited the island nation’s patroness, Our Lady of Charity of Cobre.

— The Stanley Cup visited Incarnation Parish June 30. Blackhawks trainer Mike Gapski brought the Stanley Cup to his home parish on June 30 during his day with the trophy, which the Blackhawks won for the first time in 61 years on June 9.


— Mother Maria Kaupas, who founded the Sisters of St. Casimir, was declared venerable July 1. The sisters, whose motherhouse is in Chicago, started praying for her beatification in 1943, three years after her death.

— Cardinal George, Bishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller and Father Marco Mercado, director of Hispanic ministry for the archdiocese, visited Mexico July 1-7. The pastoral visit took the pilgrims to several areas from which many of the Mexicans in the Chicago archdiocese hail.

— Relics of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta visited Chicago July 17- 18 with stops at St. Procopius, St. John Cantius and the Missionaries of Charity convent on 24th Place. The relics were on a pilgrimage to celebrate the 100th anniversary of her birth.

— The Office for Racial Justice and the Liturgical Institute at University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary both celebrated 10-year anniversaries.

— Plans to revamp formation for permanent deacons — bringing it more in line with seminary formation — were announced.


— The pope named 20 new monsignors in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Some who received the honor hold high positions within the archdiocese, while many others are retired priests honored for their long service to the church.

— Catholics participated in five sunrise Masses and prayer services Aug. 21 on South Side beaches to pray for an end to violence and to pledge themselves to work for a peaceful society.

— Called and Gifted, a formation program for laypeople who minister within their parishes, celebrated 30 years.

— Frassati Catholic Academy, a new Catholic middle school opened Aug. 23 in Wauconda. The school has sixth- through eighthgrade students from Santa Maria del Popolo in Mundelein, St. Mary of the Annunciation in Fremont Center and Transfiguration in Wauconda.

— Sixteen Catholic schools opened the year under the authority of the Office for Catholic Schools. The “board initiative” schools are part of a three-year pilot program that will allow them to search out ways to become more vital.


— St. Patrick High School, sponsored by the Christian Brothers, celebrated its 150th year.

— The National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry, an umbrella organization of more than 50 Hispanic Catholic movements and organizations, in collaboration with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Cultural Diversity in the Church, held “Raices y Alas,” (“Roots and Wings”), a national Hispanic ministry conference in Rosemont.

— Members of the former St. John of God and St. Peter Cansius parishes were on hand Sept. 29 as Cardinal George blessed the cornerstone of what is to be the new St. Raphael Church in Old Mill Creek. The new church will use much of the exterior of St. John of God and many of the interior fittings of St. Peter Cansisus.


— The relics of St. John Bosco visited the parish named in his honor Oct. 2-4 in honor of the saint’s 200th birthday.

— Then-Auxiliary Bishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller was named the sixth archbishop of San Antonio Oct. 14. He was installed Nov. 23.

— The Office for Black Catholics celebrated its 25th anniversary.


— The O’Hare Airport Chaplaincy chapel celebrated 50 years Nov. 1.

— Cardinal George stepped down Nov. 18 after his three-year term as USCCB president


 — The Illinois legislature approved a bill creating civil unions for couples of the same or opposite sexes on Dec. 2. Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the bill into law in January. Catholic leaders opposed the law, which gives those who engage in civil unions most of the benefits of marriage. They say it is unclear how the law will affect Catholic institutions.

— After a positive reaction to the first Catholics Come Home campaign in Chicago, the archdiocese rolled a new campaign Dec. 17 in collaboration with the dioceses of Joliet and Rockford.

 — Catolico, the archdiocese Spanish-language newspaper, celebrated its 25th anniversary.