Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Old St.Pat's Church

Many Sunday mornings find some of us in the IRF (Institute of Religious Formation) and Hessburg Sabbatical Program choosing to go to a different church other than our parish church near CTU.  Such was the case two weeks ago when five of us drove (it is always nice to know someone who has a car) to downtown Chicago and attended Eucharist at Old St. Pat's.  Yes, that is actually the name of the parish.  If you Google the name it will recognize it as its proper name.

Old St. Pat's is well over 100 years old. By the Celtic cross on the outside wall of the church and the inside, which has been completely renovated, one would be right in assuming that this parish served immigrant Irish for many generations.  As it sadly happens sometimes, inner city churches lose their parishioners who move to the suburbs, or at least out of the downtown area. Old St. Pat's was not the exception to the rule, not at first.  Attendance dwindled steadily over many years until it was no longer viable.  However, a miracle happened!  Cardinal Bernadin assigned a new pastor in the hope that the parish could be saved.  Saved it was!  Now on a Sunday morning each of the Eucharists is literally filled to the brim with people of all ages.  The nave and the balcony are packed and at the time of Eucharist there are about 12-15 Eucharistic ministers.  This year on the Third Sunday of Lent (St. Patrick's Day) if you wanted to attend Eucharist at Old St. Pat's you had to order a ticket!  So with only one pastor what is their secret?  It seems to me that there is a great deal of collegiality and that the life of the parish is not in the hands of only a few people, i.e. the more people involved the better.  Because they attract a large crowd it means that they also attract excellent presiders and homilists.  Some of us started going to Old St. Pat's because Fr. Ed Foley, a Capuchin and a well-known liturgist who teaches Liturgy at CTU is one of the regular presiders. 

The Sunday we were there recently the presider invited the 2nd Graders who are preparing for First Communion (40 little people) to come to join him around the altar at the time of consecration and he brought them into what he was doing, explaining and teaching as he went along.

Leaving church after a Eucharist at Old St. Pat's I am always renewed in hope for our Church. If you are ever in Chicago, the address is:  700 W. Adams Street.

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