A 120 foot tombstone
There's a bunch of history here, but I ran across this article which brilliantly pinpoints why a beautiful church must be dismantled.
In the end, the demise of St. Gelasius is not due to the Archdiocese abandoning the Woodlawn community, but the Woodlawn community abandoning St. Gelasius. In spite of the hyperbolic accusations of racially motivated activists, the Catholic Church will continue to feed the poor, nurse the sick, shelter the homeless, and give hope to the hopeless in Woodlawn long after the conflict has ended. But that's not the point.Since then, Cardinal George has given the building to the ICKSP to restore the building.
If St. Gelasius must go, it's because it stands like a 120 foot tombstone marking the spot where once hundreds of thousands of faithful Roman Catholics praised God and took the Sacraments. Today the structure stands barren and empty, worshippers gone, silently begging to be put out of its misery. It was built by Roman Catholics for a spirituality that no longer has supporters in Woodlawn. No one contests this. Of course it’s a beautiful building, and its loss is a shame, but it is a Roman Catholic Church, built by Catholics for Catholics. The fact is, the residents of Woodlawn have abandoned the Catholic faith, and in so doing, they dismantled St. Gelasius, not the Archdiocese.
It took decades, but it’s done now. All that’s left for the Archdiocese to do is to salvage the building materials. For Roman Catholics watching the petty squabbling over an empty building, beautiful as it was, the real tragedy is the spiritual void that will remain long after the church is gone and the last Mass offered there is a distant memory.
Finally, at the turn of the millennium, the church was to be demolished. But at the last moment, the destiny of the majestic edifice changed. Francis Cardinal George, who had always regretted closing the church, was overjoyed at the possibility of preserving this historic gem. The Cardinal gave the church to the Institute of Christ the King, a priestly order with a history of successful and beautiful church restorations (see the restoration of St. Mary's in Wausau, Wisconsin). In addition, the city of Chicago formally gave this church the prestigious historic landmark status.Thank you to everyone for your input on the Chicago trip. Hope to share some pics next week. Probably no posts until I get back.
The Cornerstone, 1923 AD
The former church of St. Gelasius will now be restored. With many others who had lamented the loss of this unique house of God, the Cardinal is confident that the funds to restore this Shrine will be found through the generosity of Chicago citizens and all those who wish to participate in this most worthy project.