THREATENED: Neighborhood Effort Fails to Prevent Closure of Our Lady of Victory Church, But Advocacy Continues (Chicago 7 2021)

Our Lady of Victory, 1910, Hermann J. Gaul, 5200-5240 W. Agatite Avenue, Jefferson Park. Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers

Our Lady of Victory, 1910, Hermann J. Gaul, 5200-5240 W. Agatite Avenue, Jefferson Park. Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers

Our Lady of Victory, 1910, Hermann J. Gaul, 5200-5240 W. Agatite Avenue, Jefferson Park. Photo Credit: Eric Allix Rogers

“After 115 years, the oldest Catholic parish on the Far Northwest Side will hold its last Mass this weekend — but neighbors hope it won’t be the last time they’ll be inside the historical building.

“The Our Lady of Victory Church, 5212 W. Agatite Ave., which was founded in 1906 and has been home to Irish, Polish and German congregations, will close Sunday as part of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Renew My Church plan. Restructuring planned for the Northwest Side will group eight churches and schools into three new parishes.

“While the archdiocese has no immediate plans for the building, it mentioned options for selling the property when it announced the closing last year. This sent parishioners and community members into a panic, as they want to make sure the building is preserved and stays a neighborhood asset.

“Susanna Ernst, president of the Northwest Chicago Historical Society and an Our Lady of Victory parishioner, said the church’s architectural significance, community outreach and growth in the 1920s to ’50s make it important to the area.

“‘We have very, very few significant buildings in the area,’ said Ernst, a longtime Jefferson Park resident who got married at the church. ‘We don’t want to see this building have a question mark on it, because it’s one of the few [historical] things we have left here.’

“In March, Ernst helped found a campaign called Save OLV to bring attention to the closure. The group is gathering input on what neighbors want to see housed in the building. The group — made up of the society’s board members, Preservation Chicago and Our Lady of Victory alumni and parishioners — appealed the closing to the Archdiocese of Chicago via Canon Law. Their bid was denied.

“The group then appealed to the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican in April, stating the church was solvent, had no debt and had active parishioners paying the bills. The Vatican agreed but said the decision still lay in the hands of the archdiocese, Ernst said.

“After Sunday, the parish will no longer hold services but the building won’t immediately close. The group also appealed to the Vatican to not officially close the building itself and are waiting for a response.

“While their efforts to save the parish were not successful, Save OLV’s members now want the building to remain in the community and be of service in some way.

“Local aldermen and state representatives have joined in on the awareness effort, Ernst said. Earlier this year, Ald. Nick Sposato (38th) named North Laramie Avenue from West Agatite to West Sunnyside avenues as Honorary Our Lady of Victory Way.

“‘A lot of people want to see it as a Catholic space moving forward [or] as a sacred space for any religion … [or] any particular use that would enable that building to survive and be a legacy for our community and a vestige of our past,’ Ernst said.

“Archdiocese spokesperson Susan Thomas would only say ‘options are being explored for the property.'” (Parrella-Aureli, Block Club Chicago, 11/18/21)

Read the full story at Block Club Chicago

Ahead Of Last Mass At Our Lady Of Victory Church, Jefferson Park Community Vows To Preserve Historical Building; After the Archdiocese of Chicago announced the closure of Our Lady Of Victory, parishioners appealed to the Vatican but lost their bid. Its last Mass is Sunday, Ariel Parrella-Aureli, Block Club Chicago, 11/18/21

Saying Goodbye to Our Lady of Victory and Hoping to Save an Architecturally Significant Building, Andrew Morkes, Nature in Chicagoland, 11/27/21

Preservation Chicago Roman Catholic Churches Chicago 7 Most Endangered 2021 Article

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