THREATENED: St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral Needs Support for Restoration Campaign

“When Serhiy Kovalchuk began preaching at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in 2018, he noticed the church’s ornate beauty — and its deteriorating physical condition. There were holes and cracks, and the roof leaked — sometimes during services — when it rained. Then, in the middle of Mass a few years ago, a piece of stone fell from the church’s vaulted ceiling, crashing just a few feet away from him.

“That near miss was a sign extensive repairs were long overdue for the cathedral, 835 N. Oakley Blvd., which has been an anchor of cultural identity in Ukrainian Village for more than a century. A multi-phase renovation is about halfway done, but church leaders still need to raise about $4 million to complete it within the next couple of years.

“St. Nicholas has raised about $2.5 million of its goal of $6.6 million. About $1 million of that will be recirculated to other Ukrainian Catholic churches around the United States.

“The parish is soliciting a mix of private donations and grants and is looking into more creative ways to raise funds, like offering naming rights to each of the cathedral’s new domes. Ultimately, St. Nicholas administrators hope to finish the project — inside and out — by the end of 2023. But that timeline will depend on how fast the church can bring in dollars.

“‘This church, it’s really an important place not just for Ukrainian community, [but] I think for all Chicago,’ Kovalchuk said.

“As Ukrainian Village has gentrified and grown more expensive in recent decades, many St. Nicholas members moved out to the suburbs and started attending new churches. Skubiak said that resulted in years of deferred maintenance that brought the cathedral to its current state. But St. Nicholas’s elders and leadership remain dedicated to the parish, and many feel a personal duty to complete the restoration.

“Work on the church’s western exterior is expected to wrap up this fall. The scaffolding that’s covered the cathedral’s entrance for the past several months could be taken down as soon as Friday. The next step — addressing the cathedral’s exterior middle section — is the most elaborate. It includes replacing nine domes, on top of general masonry and roof work. They hope to start that work in the spring, if they have the funding.

“‘If you don’t protect your history, if you let that go by the wayside, just close the cathedral, I think it’s a huge loss of heritage, of our history, of who we are,’ Skubiak said. ‘When you walk into that cathedral, and you see things tearing down and leaking and everything, how could you in your right mind come and celebrate liturgy, and really feel comfortable when you haven’t done anything to really show respect to the house of God?’ Popowych said. ‘Shame on us with we don’t do this.’ (Myers, Block Club Chicago, 9/28/21)

You can donate to the St. Nicholas fundraiser here. 

For more information, email Mariya Kokor at mariya.kokor@esnucc.org.

Read the full story at Block Club Chicago

St. Nicholas Cathedral Restoration Moving Along — But It Needs Fundraising Help To Get Over The Finish Line; The century-old church in Ukrainian Village is undergoing extensive repairs. Administrators hope to finish by 2023 — if they can raise enough money, Quinn Myers, Block Club Chicago, 9/28/21

Donate to the St. Nicholas fundraiser

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