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.
We are very happy to announce that since yesterday, we can now donate using PayPal. Donation was temporarily unavailable due to GoFundMe’s conversion from the former payment processor to PayPal for non-profits, and we cordially invite you to come back to make your donation now, and to help us spread this campaign to make up for lost time. Thank you for your generosity and for your patience! (Just a reminder: The Institute is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization, and all or part of your gift may be tax deductible as a charitable contribution. As always, please check with your tax advisor.)
The work to restore the Shrine has not stopped this winter, thanks in part to the few warmer days that allowed some work to continue. We depend on your generosity to keep the restoration going! The progress of the work is documented with many photos on our website http://shrinelandmark.org/news/. Please have a look. Here are the most recent entries this month:
February 15, 2017 – Roof Assembly
All the work this week is on paper at the Shrine. The Roof Assembly went in for City of Chicago Building Permit. (Below is the cover sheet to the drawings). William Heyer Architect is the architect of record. The roof assembly will be installed after the steel is erected this summer.
February 3, 2017 – Bell Tower Work - Concrete Poured
Yesterday Berglund Construction poured concrete at the first level deck of the bell tower. The weather turned too cold to pour concrete in other areas. The second and third decks are prepped for the concrete pour once the weather warms.
The broken limestone lintel at the second level was removed and replacement will occur when the weather warms. Due to cold weather, construction will hold until the temperatures rise above 40 degrees.
If you donate $250.00 or more, please privately message me via GoFundMe or Facebook whether you wish to receive the brown or the pearl rosary, and please provide me your mailing address so that the rosary can be mailed to you.
Thank you for your support. Every donation, be it large or small, will help us put a new roof on the Shrine. Through the Bell Tower Mini Campaign we want to raise enough funds to repair the damaged lintels so that the new roof trusses may be attached as soon as weather permits. Thank you!
We are launching a mini campaign to fix the Shrine’s bell tower as a preliminary step in the repair of the roof. The engineering evaluation discovered two of the lintels (reinforced concrete crossbeams) of the tower were seriously damaged by the fire, and these must be repaired before the new steel trusses can be attached to the tower. In addition to being an essential part of the roof's support system, the bell tower belongs to the last Catholic church in Woodlawn, and is a symbolic beacon of hope in the south side of Chicago.
The total cost of the bell tower repair will be $200,000, and we aim to raise at least $50,000 of this total via GoFundMe!
No mother or father in this world would want their home to be without a roof, and this is how the Shrine community feels towards their fire-ravaged spiritual home in the Woodlawn neighborhood. We all know what a harsh Chicago winter will mean for the Shrine: the cold winds will blow through the interior of the church, the snow will drift through the open roof, and freezing temperatures will surely wreak havoc on vulnerable architectural elements.
Weather permitting, the roof repair will begin by March, which means the bell tower must be stabilized before then. Please help us raise what we need to fix the lintels so we can put a roof on our home as soon as possible. Every penny we raise on GoFundMe from now until Christmas will be directed towards this mini campaign.
May God reward you for your generosity! Every week you and your intentions are remembered at a special Mass offered by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.
It is a long and venerable tradition of the Church to dedicate the month of November to the Poor Souls in Purgatory. We remember and pray for the dead, especially through Masses and almsgiving, for their release from Purgatory. Throughout this month, we invite you to make an offering in memory of a deceased loved one, and to join us in praying for them.
At the Shrine, the pure heart of the Infant King continually leads us to seek a pure heart like His in this life, and to pray for the relief of those souls who still need to make reparation for past offenses against Our Lord. As we gaze on the compassionate countenance of the Infant King statue up at the Altar, we are ever mindful of your generosity in helping us restore this 17th-Century icon. We ask for your continued help as we work to rebuild His home after the fire. He needs you! We need you!
As the progress bar shows on http://shrinelandmark.org/, we have raised $1.57M towards the $3M needed for Phase 1 of the restoration project. We have passed the half-way mark, and we need your help to get to our goal!
You and your intentions are gratefully remembered every week at a Mass said especially for our donors. Thank you!