Archdiocese announces structural decisions in Renew My Church

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Thursday, January 25, 2018

Cardinal Cupich greets parishioners following Mass at St. Celestine Parish in Elmwood Park on Jan. 29, 2017. Through Renew My Church, St. Celestine and St. Cyprian will become a new parish. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

The Archdiocese of Chicago has announced structural decisions for the groupings that were part of the pilot and subsequent waves of the local discernment and planning component of Renew My Church. 

The archdiocese describes Renew My Church as the local church’s response to Christ’s call to make disciples, build communities and inspire witness. This is a multi-year process for the archdiocese to strengthen parish vitality and better align its resources and its mission.

The recently announced changes take effect July 1, unless otherwise noted. Here are the changes: 

1) St. Celestine (Elmwood Park) and St. Cyprian (River Grove) parishes will unite to form a new parish, retaining both churches as worship sites. St. William Parish will continue in its current parish structure, with a full-time resident pastor. St. Cyprian School will close June 30, and St. Celestine School will serve as the new parish’s school. St. William Parish and School (2600 N. Sayre Ave.) will continue in their current structures. 

2) St. Ailbe (9015 S. Harper Ave.), St. Felicitas (1526 E. 84th St.) and St. Joachim (700 E. 91st St.) will unite to form one new parish. The new parish will come together at St. Ailbe Church by July 1, 2019. 

St. Felicitas and St. Joachim churches will close at a time before July 1, 2019, with specific dates to be determined by parish leadership in consultation with archdiocesan leadership. St. Ailbe School will remain open as the new parish’s school. 

3) The archdiocese is collecting more information before it makes a decision about parish structures for Immaculate Conception Parish and School (2944 E. 88th St.), Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish and School (3200 E. 91st St.), Sacred Heart Croatian Parish and School (2864 E. 96th St.) and St. Michael Parish (8237 South Shore Drive). St. Michael School will close June 30. 

4) Queen of the Universe (7114 S. Hamlin Ave.) and St. Adrian (7000 S. Washtenaw Ave.) will unite to form a new parish, retaining both churches as worship sites. St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish (6200 S. Lawndale Ave.) will continue in its current parish structure. Both St. Nicholas of Tolentine and Queen of the Universe schools will continue in their current structures.

5) Sacred Heart (Winnetka) and St. Philip the Apostle (Northfield) will unite to form a new parish, retaining both churches as worship sites. St. Francis Xavier and St. Joseph parishes (both in Wilmette) will unite to form a new parish effective July 1, 2019, retaining both churches as worship sites. Sts. Faith Hope and Charity (Winnetka) will continue in its current parish structure. There are no structural changes to schools.

6) St. Bede (Ingleside) and St. Peter (Antioch) will unite to form a new parish, retaining both churches as worship sites. Prince of Peace (Lake Villa) and St. Raphael the Archangel (Old Mill Creek) will continue in their current parish structures.

The Archdiocese’s Priest Personnel Board will work with each community to identify a pastor for the new parishes that will be formed on July 1. 

In the next phase, all the groupings will work with the archdiocese on moving into the new structures. Once everything is transitioned over the parishes will begin working on evangelization, said Father Jason Malave, Cardinal Cupich’s delegate for Renew My Church. 

The next wave of eight groupings consisting of 35 parishes will meet for the first time in February. Each of the archdiocese’s 344 parishes have been put in one of 97 groupings, and each grouping is expected to go through the process in the upcoming years.

Through the process, members of each grouping meet with facilitators and discuss their existing situation, both in terms of material resources and ministry and look at possible outcomes, Malave said. 

They give their feedback to the Renew My Church commission, which makes recommendations to Cardinal Cupich. The cardinal makes the final decision for each grouping. 

The latest round of groupings had among them companions, people without ties to the parishes who were there to listen and accompany them in the process. 
“Accompaniment is very simply walking with another person. Companions come without an agenda but are there to meet the people where they are. Companions journey with the participants, not judging but walking with them through whatever experience they are going through,” said Sister of St. Joseph Kathleen Brazda, pastoral accompaniment leader for Renew My Church.

Most of the companions have volunteered to stay with the groupings as they move forward in the process. While the impact of companions is hard to quantify, participants in the process expressed appreciation for the comfort and care given to them by the companions. 

“Companions are not afraid to hold both the vision for the future and the pain of letting go of what is familiar. They hold the greater vision of what church is, and are there to remind the grouping team that new life always comes out of death,” Brazda said. “These are good people looking at some difficult choices and the companions remind them of their goodness and call them to live it out of that.”

For more information about Renew My Church, visit


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