The Archdiocese of Chicago’s year in review

By Chicago Catholic
Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Archdiocese of Chicago’s year in review

See images of the past year in the life of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
The Crusaders for Life from St. John Cantius Parish display a banner reading “Life is Beautiful” as thousands of participants braved frigid temperatures during Chicago’s Rally and March for Life at Federal Plaza on Jan. 13, 2019. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Loyola University’s Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt looks at a Lego statue of herself on Aug. 15, 2019. Sister Jean celebrated her 100th birthday with a month of parties and events. (Nuccio DiNuzzo)
More than 1,000 worshippers escort a statue of “Broken Mary” out of St John Cantius Church on May 31, 2019. The group processed to the Water Tower, praying for peace in the city. Kevin Matthews, a longtime Chicago radio host, inspired the 1 1/2 mile procession “There is Hope for the Broken.” Matthews had a spiritual awakening after he found a broken Virgin Mary statue sitting next to a dumpster outside a flower shop. (Denise Duriga/Chicago Catholic)
Father Wayne Watts prays during the Unity Mass bringing together Sts. Joseph and Francis Xavier parishes on June 30, 2019, at Vattmann Park in Wilmette. The parishes merged under Renew My Church. (Julie Jaidinger/Chicago Catholic)
Cardinal Cupich tours the neighborhood surrounding St. Rita of Cascia Parish on June 6, 2019, to see the work being done by the Reclaiming Southwest Chicago Campaign, which is supported by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
An icon of Salvatore Carzedda is carried up to be blessed by Cardinal Cupich at the end of Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish on May 5, 2019, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Catholic Theological Union. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)
Seventh and eighth graders from Our Lady of Guadalupe School hold pictures of detained children who have died. The archdiocese’s Immigration Ministry hosted a prayer vigil Oct. 16, 2019, at the Healing Garden at Holy Family Church calling for 40 days of prayer and fasting for immigrant children and their families. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)


U.S. bishops take part in weeklong retreat about clergy sex abuse crisis

The U.S. Catholic bishops took part in a retreat Jan. 2-8 at University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary to prayerfully consider ways to rebuild trust over the clergy sex abuse crisis.

Father John Kartje, rector of Mundelein Seminary, welcomed the bishops in a statement.

He said it was fitting that the bishops were gathered where “seminarians come from around the nation to be formed into the next generation of parish priests and hundreds of lay men and women are trained for parish service.” He added: “The people of God deserve servant-leaders who are holy, joyful and competent in their ministry.”

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, led the retreat with the theme, “the mission of the apostles and their successors.” This time of prayer came at the suggestion of Pope Francis and was planned largely in response to last summer’s revelations of sex abuse that reached the highest levels of the U.S. church.

Archdiocese announces closing of St. Joseph Seminary

The archdiocese announced in January that St. Joseph College Seminary on the campus of Loyola University Chicago would close at the end of the 2019 academic year.

The college seminary, dedicated in 2012, had 20 students for the 2018-2019 year, 13 of whom were from the Archdiocese of Chicago, and was expecting a small enrollment class next year, according to the Jan. 14 press release announcing the closure.

All of the students would be welcomed at St. John Vianney College Seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, if they chose to attend, said Father John Kartje, rector-president of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary.

March for Life Chicago draws people from Illinois, around Midwest

Marian Catholic student Chantelle Belcher attended the March for Life Chicago on Jan. 13 to support women who face crisis pregnancies.

“People who do have abortions go through hard times,” the teen said. “Sometimes they have abortions because they can’t support the child but I want to motivate people to not have abortions. There are other options like adoption or giving the child to a family member. You don’t always have to abort.”

Belcher was one of several thousand people from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri who turned out for the annual march in downtown Chicago that began following a rally in Federal Plaza and proceeded around downtown. It is held annually before the national March for Life in Washington, D.C., which took place Jan. 18.

World Youth Day in Panama: ‘It was amazing,’ participants say

When hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gathered in Panama City, Panama, on Jan. 27, 45 young people from Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish on Chicago’s southeast side were among them.

The Mass celebrated by Pope Francis was the culmination of a period of learning about God, the earth and themselves, said Claretian Father Hector Navalo, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Navalo led the group on what was also his first pilgrimage to a World Youth Day gathering.

About 113,000 people officially registered for World Youth Day activities, but the park where the closing Mass was celebrated was reported to be near its capacity of 700,000.


Peace comes through seeing the other, Catholic-Muslim dialogue participants say

The way to peace runs through seeing one another as brothers and sisters, Catholic and Muslim leaders confirmed March 25 at a session of the National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue held at Catholic Theological Union.

Cardinal Cupich joined Shaykh Abdur Rahman Khan, the two co-chairs of the national dialogue, who were reflecting on “A Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together,” signed by Pope Francis and Sheik el-Tayeb, a leading religious authority for many Sunni Muslims around the world, on Feb. 4 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

“The publication of this statement on human fraternity testifies to the profound respect and friendship that exists between the Vatican and Al-Azhar and it is a sign of the good that is possible between Christians and Muslims and can serve as a corrective to the false narrative that our two faith traditions are completely at odds, are fated to be enemies,” Cardinal Cupich said. “On the contrary, we are brothers and sisters of the one, true God and the document on fraternity serves as a bridge inviting us to cross over the murky water of prejudice and fear that separates us so that we may encounter one another in a spirit of openness, trust and friendship.”


Catholic Theological Union commemorates 50th anniversary

Cardinal Cupich was the main celebrant during the 50th anniversary celebration of Catholic Theological Union on May 5, held at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Hyde Park.

After Mass, the James and Catherine Denny Center at Catholic Theological Union was dedicated back on campus. In 1964, Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens of Belgium spoke at the University of Chicago and urged that seminaries of the future might be urban-based, in the context of a great academic center, and ecumenical in spirit.

That speech inspired the founding of CTU in 1968, when several religious orders combined their seminary resources, moved to Chicago’s Hyde Park, and began a daring experiment in collaboration.

Fifty years later, CTU has grown to be a premier school of theology, sponsored by 24 religious communities, with a global reputation for academic and pastoral excellence.

‘Broken Mary’ focus of peace procession

On the evening of May 31, the feast of the Visitation of Mary, over 1,500 people walked out of St. John Cantius Church at Chicago and Ogden Avenues and processed — holding candles and reciting the rosary — to the historic Water Tower to pray for peace in the city.

They followed first responders who carried the statue of Our Lady of the Broken. The statue of the Virgin Mary was rescued in 2010 by former Chicago radio personality Kevin Matthews, who found it lying by a dumpster in disrepair. The statue, he says, serves as a reminder that Mary and her son, Jesus, come for all people — the whole and the broken.


Group ‘reclaims’ neighborhood around St. Rita of Cascia Parish

Cardinal Cupich called the results obtained so far by the Southwest Organizing Project’s Reclaiming Project a miracle at a June 6 interfaith event celebrating the campaign.

“A miracle is about an event in which something is there that was not there before,” the cardinal said. “We have replaced fear with hope, empty houses with full houses and division with reunification of communities and families. This is a miracle we are witnessing to today.”

The miracle he referred to is the turnaround of the neighborhood around St. Rita of Cascia Church, on the corner of 63rd Street and Fairfield Avenue.

When SWOP, a non-profit organization made up of community-based institutions and agencies, started the project in June 2012, the 20-square-block area around the church had 93 vacant buildings, many of them left empty after the foreclosure crisis. The vacancies tore at the fabric of the neighborhood, leading to instability, increased crime and high student turnover in neighborhood schools.

Now those 20 blocks have only eight vacant buildings, with the other 85 turned into affordable housing: apartments, two-flats and single-family homes that have either been sold or rented out.

Pope Francis elevates Augustus Tolton to ‘venerable’

Pope Francis advanced the sainthood cause of Servant of God Augustus Tolton June 11 when he issued a decree declaring him “venerable.”

The title “venerable” recognizes that he lived a life of heroic virtue.

Once it is confirmed that one miracle has been granted by God through the intercession of Tolton, he will be declared “blessed.” A second miracle may be required for canonization.


Parishes come together under Renew My Church

 “It’s a joyous day.” That’s how Nancy Lou Kelly, a parishioner at the new Sts. Joseph and Francis Xavier Parish in Wilmette described the June 30 Unity Mass that celebrated the coming together of the two churches into one parish.

July 1 was the official day 38 churches formally became 18 new parishes as part of Renew My Church. To celebrate their unification, the Wilmette parish hosted an outdoor Mass in Vattmann Park that drew more than 1,000 people. Named after Father Edward Vattmann, who lived in Wilmette in the early 1900s, the park marked the former boundary of the two parishes.

Chicago woman’s healing was miracle needed for Newman’s sainthood cause

Pope Francis announced July 1 that he would declare Blessed John Henry Newman a saint Oct. 13.

It was the healing of Melissa Villalobos of Chicago, which saved her life and the life of her unborn child, that served as the miracle needed for the 19th-century British cardinal’s canonization.

Pastoral Migratoria trains dioceses in immigrant accompaniment

Representatives of more than 13 dioceses around the United States came to Chicago to learn how to start their own immigrant-to-immigrant ministry, based on the archdiocese’s Pastoral Migratoria, which began in 2008. The workshop ran July 10-14.


Loyola University’s Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt celebrates a century of life

When a living legend like BVM Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt turns 100, it’s fitting to celebrate for a month. That’s what Loyola University Chicago did in August when its men’s basketball chaplain reached the century mark.

There were parties, a Mass, an address to incoming freshmen, an exhibit at the university’s museum of art and even a Sister Jean Lego statue. On her actual birthday, Aug. 21, the university celebrated “Sister Jean Day” with an event at the Damen Student Center that included tributes to the nun, a cake and the singing of “Happy Birthday.”


Catholic imagination ‘vigorous and flourishing,’ conferencegoers say

Hundreds of writers, poets, filmmakers and other artists gathered at Loyola University Chicago Sept. 19-21 for the third biennial Catholic Imagination Conference, on the future of the Catholic literary tradition.

It featured speakers such as Paul Mariani, Alice McDermott, Richard Rodriguez, Paul Scharder and Tobias Wolff.

The conference, over its three sessions, has aimed to create a community of Catholic writers as well as enhance the appreciation of their contributions to the literary world.

At least, that was the goal of Dana Gioia, a poet who has an MBA from Stanford and worked in the business world before quitting at age 41 to devote himself to his writing. Gioia, a professor of poetry and public culture at the University of Southern California, hosted the first conference in 2015.


Group launches fast for children in detention centers

Dozens of Chicago-area Catholics were joined by Lutheran, Jewish and Muslim representatives as they all prayed for immigrant children held in U.S. detention centers at the Healing Garden near Holy Family Church, 1080 W. Roosevelt Road, Oct. 16.

The group sang and prayed at the “They’re All Our Children” service before participants each pledged to spend one of the next 40 days in prayer and fasting for detained immigrant children and their families.


Cardinal, Holocaust survivor on dangers of hateful rhetoric

Cardinal Cupich, Holocaust survivor Fritzie Fritzshall and ABC7 news anchor Alan Krashesky came together Nov. 18 at Loyola Academy in Wilmette to talk about their July visit to Auschwitz and make the point that the horror of the Holocaust started with hateful rhetoric.

During their visit, Fritzshall, president of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, asked Cardinal Cupich as a religious man, a man of God, how such things could happen.

It took some time for him to formulate his response, Cardinal Cupich told the audience.

“I reflected on it, and there is an answer,” Cardinal Cupich said. “It happens in the human heart when we begin to criticize people, marginalize them, and then eventually call them ‘other,’ ‘alien,’ to ourselves. Then we begin to look at the ills of society, and there’s always the tendency to scapegoat, and so we scapegoat those people who are other as the reason for our problems. It becomes a lot easier then to get rid of the scapegoat. That’s what a scapegoat is. There is a dynamic that happens. It just doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why right away we have to stop the words. We have to stop the hate speech in its tracks, lest it begin to define people as ‘other,’ and that other becomes the enemy that we have to get rid of. There is a trajectory to those words that we can’t ignore.”



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