Shrine Fire Restoration Fund
On October 7th, a fire broke out in the Shrine of Christ the King Church, on 6415 South Woodlawn Avenue in Chicago, next to the headquarters office of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Evidence indicate that the fire began late at night in the wooden choir loft, and quickly spread through the church. The extra-alarm fire took 150 firefighters several hours to bring under control. No one was hurt, thankfully, but substantial damage was done.
Coming to church for the 8AM Mass, a mother of eight stood across the street and cried at the sight of the burning church.
The fire destroyed most of the roof of the church, the entire choir loft, the windows, and most of the interior furnishings of the church. The damage from water and smoke in the rest of the church and sacristy is extensive and is still being assessed.
Perhaps the most poignant moment of this tragic morning was seeing a firefighter emerge from the church, holding the Infant King in his arms, and handing it to Canon Talarico. This iconic 18th-century statue originated from Spain and graced the High Altar of the Shrine. It was a symbol of the loveliness and the divine majesty of Baby Jesus, and was adored by devotees from all over the country. Incredibly, this wooden statue was found still standing over the altar, while the roof fell in all around it, and the high heat had bent the High Altar Cross next to it.
Though damaged in the fire, somehow the hope and the beauty of the Infant Christ King shone through the soot.
Ironically, the present church has been undergoing restoration from the effects of a 1976 fire that consumed it. As a historical landmark, it was placed under the care of the Institute in 2004. The ensuing years have witnessed a great transformation of this formerly closed church. As the interior and the exterior of the church were slowly renovated, the congregation grew steadily, encompassing many young families who actively participated in the restoration efforts. The church also became a great asset in the neighborhood, offering concerts and social events that edified many. The Infant King devotion, centered on the historic statue, has attracted adherents from all over the country.
This church was a spiritual home to many families, and it is abslutely heartbreaking to see the hardwork of the past ten years destroyed: gone are the new roof, the altars, the pews, the artwork, the familiar statues, and the exterior that took countless hours to clean and restore.
Overcoming the destruction of the fire is a daunting task, yet two hopeful signs tell us, WE CAN! Emerging from the fire is the Infant King on the High Altar, still with his hand raised in blessing, and still radiant with a countenance of hope and compassion. Secondly, to be in Chicago is to be reminded always of the Windy City’s indomitable spirit of a phoenix-like rising from the ashes.
This church has an aura of hope. The Canons and staff at the Shrine are fully committed to carry on the work of restoration, in spite of the devastating fire.
Please donate and help restore this Chicago church; help it rise again, for the sake of the children, the families, and the neighborhood.
As the Chicago winter melt into spring, we are grateful to report that the restoration of the Shrine is advancing from Phase 1 toward Phase 2.
Two years since the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest obtained ownership of the fire-damaged Shrine landmark church, $2.9 million have been raised for its restoration, including the $250,000 matching grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places. We are in the home stretch to reach our $3 million goal for Phase 1! This phase of work includes the new roof installation, which continues this week with setting the new steel trusses and purlins. We are aiming for the roof work to be complete in June!
While celebrating this success in a spirit of gratitude, the demanding work of Phase 2 looms before us: heating, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems must be installed, along with a new floor slab in the nave, so that the building can be used again on a daily basis.
As we have from the beginning and all along the way, we need your support to continue. Help us reach the $3 million goal to complete Phase 1, and to begin work on Phase 2. A restored Shrine would mean so much to the community locally in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood, and globally to the many devotees of the Infant King. Thank you for your generosity!
Please visit our restoration website https://www.shrinelandmark.org/news/ for complete and frequent updates on our progress.
(Photo credits: Shrine's Open Roof by Elizabeth Ortner, Truss Delivery by Marc Monaghan)
The National Fund for Sacred Places is offering a 2:1 matching grant challenge to the Shrine for rebuilding the church roof.
The National Fund will award the Shrine $250,000 if the Shrine raises $500,000 in cash gifts or in pledge commitments. This combined amount of $750,000 will be added to the $2.2 million already raised in order to bring us to the $3 million goal for Phase 1. We are almost there!
Think of it this way: thanks to this unique matching grant challenge, every $1 donated becomes $1.50!
So far, $20,359 in cash gifts have been raised toward our $500,000 goal. Will you help us fill the gap to get the grant?
Crews are working right now to rebuild the roof. Steel trusses are being fabricated on Chicago’s South side. Masonry work is being done in the church to prepare for the new truss installation.
Check out our project blog at www.shrinelandmark.org/news/ for the latest updates with photos and information.
The Christmas season is approaching. The Shrine will be caring for the spiritual and material needs of many people, including Advent days of recollection and a giveaway of winter clothing and live Christmas trees for people in need.
Will you help us to continue our mission of serving God and of giving to the community?
Scaffolding was erected this week at the altar walls to begin the masonry work. Wiss, Janney, Elster Associates, a firm of architects, engineers and material scientist specializing in the design of repairs of historic buildings, was on site to inspect the demolition of old bricks. Four courses of bricks (four horizontal layers) were removed, but it was determined that more courses need to come out to ensure a stable interior wall. New bricks will be installed in their place to create a strong bond for the wall. The walls are also being prepared for tuckpointing, an important restorative process of removing and replacing deteriorated or missing mortar between bricks.
This has been a busy week at the shrine and your donations are being put to good use: to assess, demolish, and rebuild for lasting strength, the walls of the Shrine, brick by brick – literally! We would be most grateful for your continued funding so that we can keep having more busy weeks! Thank you for being a part of this rebuilding effort!
This week, the crew worked to finish up the bond beam installation on the south wall at the parapet. 24” threaded stainless steel rods were set vertically through the new bond beam and brick and connected into the existing brick. Rebar was set horizontally and the bond beam was grouted solid. The bond beam was installed to fortify and strengthen the wall. When the old steel is removed the wall needs to have the strength to stand on its own until the new steel is set in place. Even Canon Talarico, Rector of the Shrine and Provincial Superior, helped to cement the bond beam!
Restoration work sometimes yields a surprising sweet reward: while working on the old walls of the church, construction workers found last week, wedged deep inside the wall, an intact, old mother-of-pearl rosary. Likely as old as the church itself, finding it was a reminder of the ageless Faith served by this beautiful church – from 1920 to 2017 – and way beyond!
Please don’t let this work stop for the lack of funds! To complete Phase 1, including the new roof, we need $3 million. As of April 2017, approximately $2.2 million have been raised, and an additional $500,000 have been pledged. Help us raise the remaining $300,000 to complete Phase 1!
More photos and updates at http://shrinelandmark.org/news/
I believe the insurance did not cover the full damage of the fire
Don't you guys have insurance?
Thanks be to God! I'm delighted to hear this.
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