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Where we pray


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Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago find room to pray in nearly every place and every circumstance, but some places are special. Some places seem to draw hearts and minds closer to the Lord, whether through their beauty or the meaning they have in the lives of the people who come there. Some, like the Resurrection Grotto at the Cerrito del Tepeyac at Maryvillae Academy (cover photo) bear witness to the faith of those who have come to pray for healing. Others, like the children’s memorial at St. Agnes of Bohemia Parish (below), bear witness to a community’s pain. Parishioners at the new St. Raphael Parish in Antioch can now pray in a building that once housed farm machinery, furnished with fixtures from parishes that are now closed. Read about these and other placed people pray in the following pages.

Building a church, growing a parish

When Father John Jamnicky walked into St. Raphael Church for 4 p.m. Mass Sept. 1, it marked the first time Mass was celebrated in a new parish in the Archdiocese of Chicago since 1999.

It also marked a high point in the journey of St. Raphael Parish, which is holding services in a renovated machine shed on the former Pederson farm in Antioch.

The 200-seat temporary church—furnished with religious items and fixtures from several closed Chicago parishes—will be the congregation’s home for the next five or six years, giving the new parish time to attract members and build a new church on property the archdiocese owns about a half-mile away.

St. Agnes parish remembers deceased children

More than 100 deceased children are remembered upon the memorial wall of St. Agnes of Bohemia parish of Little Village. Etched into the wall are the names of anyone from the parish under the age of 20 who has died since 2000. Of these, about 65 were under the age of three.

Father Matthew Foley, pastor of St. Agnes, said that violence accounts for about one fourth of the names on the wall, the rest being results of various sicknesses and accidents. Numerous deaths have occurred in the parish which have not yet added to the memorial.

“The sad part is we that have to put up another panel; the good part is that they're always with us,” Foley said.

Taking it to the street

Violence can happen anywhere. But when Israel Morales, a neighborhood organizer and parishioner at St. Nicholas of Tolentine Parish on the Southwest Side, was gunned down this summer near the church, other community members decided they had to do something.

The first thing they did was have a Mass outside, near where Morales was killed. Since then, the parish has had three more street Masses, with another set for Sept. 27, all on blocks where violence has occurred.

The first Masses drew 120 to 150 people; one in late August had more than 200 in the congregation.

“There’s something in the ancient ritual of reconsecrating ground that has been violated in some way,” said Father Stan Rataj, the pastor. “I think it makes a statement to the people.”

Chapel of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest

To me this chapel evokes what must have been the peace of the manger in

Bethlehem. There, hidden and unbeknownst to the world, Our Lord was born. No doubt his guardian, St. Joseph, had arranged the unlikely place well, transforming that cave into a warm and hospitable abode for his Virgin Spouse and the newborn King. There He was adored by shepherds and by the humble rulers of a foreign people, who had come seeking the King of Kings. The manger in Bethlehem ... perhaps it is the statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague above the altar, or perhaps it is because I know that this chapel is a hidden, humble, yet beautifully crafted beginning of something that will be much greater some day. This chapel, so carefully arranged in the basement of a rectory, is the temporary setting for the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest until such time as the gutted interior of the spacious and majestic church building next door has been restored.
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Talking to Padre Pio

Hundreds upon thousands from across the globe gathered in Rome for the canonization of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, witnessing to the many people he touched during his life and continues to affect today. Amidst the throngs was a group from the Padre Pio Prayer Group of St. John Cantius Parish, located in the heart of Chicago. They meet every third Saturday of the month to pray together and listen to guest speaker presentations.