New Catholic residential community opening at University of Chicago

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, August 31, 2022

The University of Chicago will have a new housing option this year, one that aims to offer them a community based on their faith as well as a roof over their heads.

The Catholic residential community is being created at 5554 S. Woodlawn Ave., a Jesuit residence for the past five decades, by the Lumen Christi Institute for Catholic Thought and Calvert House, the Catholic campus ministry at the University of Chicago.

“We’re looking for students who are interested in being an intentional Catholic community,” said Leah Bromberg, Lumen Christi’s director of communications. Intentional community is at the heart of this, so that means striving to support one another, helping one another to grow in the faith and working for the good of the whole community.”

Up to nine men can live at the house, along with Jesuit Father Peter Bernardi, Lumen Christi’s scholar-in-residence and the chaplain for the new community.

It’s too soon to say exactly what the new community will look like or how it will function, Bernardi said. The institute bought the house from the Jesuits for $2.6 million Aug. 2 and is still advertising for residents for the upcoming academic year, which begins Sept. 27.

Calvert House has reached out to its community to tell them about the new residence option.

“Calvert House has been very instrumental in promoting the project,” said Father Andrew Wawrzyn, Calvert House chaplain and director. “The folks that would want to live there will most likely already be involved in Calvert House.”

Calvert House already promotes Lumen Christi events and will continue to do so, and will likely promote its own events at the new residential community, he said.

Residents must be men who are practicing Catholics, and they will share in some communal meals and prayer, according Bromberg and Bernardi. Bernardi said he expects there will be a formational component as well, perhaps a series of gatherings in which Catholic professors from the University of Chicago or other schools discuss how they integrate their spiritual and intellectual lives.

“While there will be some formation, this not like pre-seminary,” Bernardi said. “We’re hoping we’ll have residents from various disciplines, the sciences and humanities as well as philosophy and theology.”

Some community events such as lectures or talks will be open to other Catholic community members as well, Bromberg said, with hopes that the house will become a hub for Catholic activity.

“Our institute feels that this a really important initiative for us, to offer an enriching Catholic community for university students, but also to give to the Hyde Park community as well,” Bromberg said.  “It’s a joint partnership with Calvert House, so we’ll work together create an enriching community program.”

Bromberg said the cost for residents will be comparable to what it would cost to share an apartment in Hyde Park, but the students will live in a Victorian mansion designed by Mifflin Bell, a historically significant architect. Fully furnished bedrooms are much larger than those found in most Hyde Park apartments, and residents will have access to common areas including the kitchen and dining room, parlors, a piano room and a chapel.

Bernardi said it’s too soon to say just how the community will take shape, but he looks forward to living and working with the residents on that.

“I’ve lived in many different communities and many different cities,” said Bernardi, an associate professor emeritus at Loyola University Chicago. “I have a lot of experience living in different communities.”

Anyone interested in living in the residential community can email or visit



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