If you liked Aunt Gene’s 1955 Chevy, you’ll love her parish church!

sjgio

Photos from the St. John of God Church Golden Jubilee Magazine
1957 – Chicago, Illinois

by Doug Lawrence

In a recent post, I mentioned my Aunt Genevieve, the 1955 Chevy Bel Air that she won in the church raffle, and my feelings about Pope Francis. Today, I want to share with you some details about Aunt Gene’s extraordinary parish church.

Chicago’s St. John of God Church was richly and beautiful constructed in order to suitably host the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God – and to truly inspire the faithful (predominantly Polish Stock Yard workers, at that time) to lift their hearts and minds to God. (How’s that for a novel idea?) I was baptized there, in 1953.

The proverbial “little slice of Heaven on Earth”, it became immediately clear to all who entered that this was no ordinary venue. Of course, “they” don’t build beautiful churches like this anymore – nor does St. John of God Church exist anymore – except for the bell towers, which were salvaged and incorporated into the newly constructed St. Raphael the Archangel Church, located about 50 miles northwest of the city.

Built in 1907, St. John of God Church stood for slightly more than a century before it was demolished – a victim of changing neighborhood dynamics. This short video provides a look at the magnificent interior furnishing and design elements. The church was a real “jewel”!

This thirty-one second video shows the demolition site, which sadly, looks like a “war zone”.  Today, due to rampant and largely uncontrolled street gang activity, it IS a war zone! 

St. John of God Church to me, seems like a metaphor for the post-Vatican II era. Once upon a time, we Catholics had beautiful churches, close-knit communities and firm, universally accepted beliefs and practices, in accord with almost 2,000 years of sacred and apostolic Tradition and nearly two millennia of the finest theology, philosophy and scholarship the world had ever known.

Catholics around the globe shared a common faith, a common language and a common liturgy – which was, at the time, a most uncommon thing! There was a certainty which accompanied our Catholic faith that was at once, both reassuring and challenging. Things weren’t perfect, but they were very good!

Then – everything changed – and for no particularly good reason!

Now, many of our churches look more like gymnasiums; belief in the Real Presence is waning; it’s tough to get a straight answer about matters of faith from our priests and bishops; Catholic schools and universities tend to be Catholic in name only; we’ve squandered more than two billion dollars paying for the misdeeds of scores of wayward clerics; Catholic religious orders are no longer willing to follow orders; a caricature of The Simpson’s,”Crusty the Clown” runs the U.S. Bishop’s Conference (USCCB); our new pope often sounds more like a certain Chicago politician (POTUS) than the Vicar of Christ; and things in general, seem to be crumbling to dust, before our very eyes!

But to close this essay on a high note, watch the four-minute video about the new St. Raphael the Archangel Church, located in Antioch, Illinois, which is an amazing resurrection story, in itself! (Video link 4:41) 

With God, all things are possible!

SketchFull

Sketch of the new St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church
in Antioch, Illinois which incorporates the bell towers from
Saint John of God Catholic Church, formerly located in Chicago, IL
and more…

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3 Comments

  1. As in an earlier thread, I once again recommend Ugly as Sin for relevant educational reading.


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