THREATENED: After 101 Years, “The Blue Church of Chicago”/Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church Closed

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“Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church in South Shore held its final Mass Sunday, just a day shy of its 101st anniversary. As part of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s ongoing consolidation efforts, Our Lady of Peace is among three Catholic churches on the South Side whose congregations will join St. Philip Neri, another parish in South Shore.

“For many churchgoers, the service was bittersweet.

“Eileen Langan, of Oak Lawn, grew up in South Shore and was baptized at the church in 1954. She brought a photo of her first communion class to Sunday’s service, showing her and other kids posing in front of the church’s altar. ‘It’ll always be my home church. That’s the way I think of it,’ Langan said as she fought back tears.

“Andre Rowell, who started coming to the church as a child in 1966, raised concerns about the closures and questioned why St. Philip was chosen as the new home base for all four congregations. He claimed Our Lady of Peace actually garnered the most support in a vote leading up to that decision.

“Rowell said he and other parishioners sent letters to Cardinal Blase Cupich and Pope Francis seeking clarity on the decision but never heard back. A spokeswoman for the archdiocese didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

“When Rowell started at the school, which closed in 1999, he was one of fewer than 10 African American students. After decades of demographic change to the neighborhood, the final makeup of the church and its leadership was largely Black. As Rowell sees it, parishioners like him are now being pushed to an ‘all-white church.’ (Shuba, 9/6/20)

Preservation Chicago wishes to work with the owner the Archdiocese of Chicago, the Alderman, and the South Shore community towards a preservation reuse of this magnificent church and complex. It was designed in the Renaissance Revival style by Joseph W. McCarthy in 1933. Its complex of limestone buildings is highly symmetrical in composition with the convent on the east, the rectory on the west, and the school behind.

Read the full story with photos at the Chicago Sun-Times

After 101 years, Our Lady of Peace holds final Mass in South Shore “It’s almost like a funeral. But it’s a celebration, too, because all funerals are partial celebrations,” said one South Shore resident who co-chaired a committee to organize the final Mass, Tom Schuba, Chicago Sun-Times, 9/6/20

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