Three NW Side parishes may form one parish as part of ‘Renew My Church’ campaign
by BRIAN NADIG
Saint Tarcissus, Saint Cornelius and Saint Thecla parishes reportedly would be combined into one parish beginning July 1, 2020, under the Archdiocese of Chicago’s “Renew My Church” initiative, according to Aug. 18 parish bulletins.
The archdiocese is planning to list possible scenarios for the future of the three parishes in their Aug. 18 bulletins and to hold meetings with each parish in August. The archdiocese is taking feedback from the discernment team at each parish and plans to announce a final consolidation plan for the parishes in November.
Under the merger plan it is possible that worship services would continue at all three church sites. However, the archdiocese also is considering scenarios in which services would be held at only one or two of the churches, essentially leading to the closing of one or two of the parish campuses.
A new name reportedly would be chosen for the combined parish, but the existing church buildings on each campus could retain their current parish name.
It also is possible that a ministry could operate out of a closed campus or a portion of the site could be leased or sold. The Chicago Public Schools has been looking at converting the former Saint Cornelius School, 5252 N. Long Ave., into an early education center, but the project has been delayed for several years.
The plan also reportedly would impact Saint Thecla School, 6323 N. Newcastle Ave., and the north campus of Pope Francis Global Academy, which is located inside the former Saint Tarcissus School, 6040 W. Ardmore Ave. It is believed that they would be merged into one school and be operated by the new combined parish.
The school could be split over two campuses, Saint Thecla and Saint Tarcissus, but each campus would house different grades. The other scenario reportedly calls for operating the school on just one of the campuses.
The Pope Francis academy’s south campus, which is located inside the former Saint Pascal School at 6143 W. Irving Road, would not be part of the merger plan. The Saint Pascal Parish is in a different “Renew My Church” grouping which could go through the process next year.
In 2017, the archdiocese announced a series of groupings for Chicago parishes, which were encouraged to share resources in an effort to make each parish more sustainable.
At the time former Saint Tarcissus pastor Mike Solazzo, wrote in a parish bulletin: “We all see a decrease in priest personnel, contributions and volunteers. All of our parishes are aging, and younger families and individuals are less visible in parish life, including Sunday worship.
“This is a phenomenon happening all across the archdiocese, and I suspect across the country. The increasing secularization of our society is a reality we live with. Yet we must find a way to counteract it.”
The archdiocese reportedly takes into consideration several key factors when deciding whether to consolidate parishes, including worship attendance, a parish’s operating income and any deferred debt.
The number of people attending Mass on weekends at Saint Cornelius, Saint Tarcissus and Saint Thecla reportedly is closer to 700 at each location, below the 800-benchmark set by the archdiocese.
“Renew My Church” meetings are scheduled for 10:45 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, and 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, at Saint Thecla Church, 6725 W. Devon Ave., 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, at Saint Cornelius Church, 5430 W. Foster Ave., and 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Saint Tarcissus Church, 6020 W. Ardmore Ave.
“One initiative of ‘Renew My Church’ is focused on increasing the vitality of our local communities. Cardinal (Blasé) Cupich has asked our parish to come together with the other parishes in our grouping … to start a process of reflection, discernment and planning to consider how we can collaborate and combine resources so that we are better equipped to bring Jesus Christ to the world today,” the meeting announcement in the Saint Tarcissus newsletter said.