St. Thecla, St. Cornelius parish campuses closing; St. Tarcissus will be home to newly merged parish
Editor’s note: Watch for updates to this story in the next week’s Northwest Side Press.
by Brian Nadig
The Saint Thecla and Saint Cornelius parish campuses will be closed under a plan to form a newly consolidated parish with Saint Tarcissus, starting on July 1, 2020.
The consolidated parish, which will be named by Cardinal Blase Cupich, will be housed on the current campus of Saint Tarcissus, 6020 W. Ardmore Ave.
The Archdiocese of Chicago announced details of the merger at a meeting Friday evening, Nov. 8, at Saint Thecla Church, 6725 W. Devon Ave. The Saint Thecla School and Pope Francis Global Academy North Campus will be merged into one school and housed at Saint Tarcissus.
Several people at the meeting walked out after the announcement, with some shouts of “lies.” “This is all about money,” one man said.
One Saint Thecla parishioner said that the archdiocese was taking away “our family” by closing the parish campus.
An archdiocese official said that assets of any building in a parish which are sold or leased are reinvested back into the parish, unless the parish has a debt owed to the archdiocese, in which a portion of the revenue would go toward the archdiocese. It also was announced that the Spanish Mass at Saint Cornelius will be moving to Saint Tarcissus but that there are no plans for a Polish Mass.
The centralized location of the Saint Tarcissus campus was one of the factors taken into consideration in the final decision, according to the archdiocese official. It also was reported that the archdiocese is aware that plans will have to be made to create more parking at Saint Tarcissus as part of the consolidation plan.
The merger of the three Northwest Side parishes is part of the the archdiocese’s efforts across the Chicago area to close and consolidate parishes and schools to combat problems of decreased attendance at Sunday Mass, declining school enrollment, a shortage of priests, aging infrastructure and budgetary issues. Several other area parishes will be going through the same consolidation process, which is called “Renew My Church,” in the next couple of years.
News of the closing of the Saint Thecla campus sparked a vigil on Thursday, Nov. 7, as parishioners prayed and expressed hope for a last-second change in the decision. “We love Thecla” was one of the chants which hundreds of parishioners shouted.
Several Saint Thecla parishioners said that the school and parish are operating in the black and have no debt and that they did not understand why the parish had to close as long as it is financially self-sufficient.
In 2015, the Saint Thecla Parish declined to close its school as part of a Northwest Side consolidation plan for schools. Both Saint Cornelius and Saint Tarcissus agreed to the consolidation plan, which led to the formation of the Pope Francis School, whose north campus is located at the former Saint Tarcissus School.
Both the Saint Thecla and Saint Cornelius parishes were founded in the mid-1920s, and in many instances generations of the same family were members of one of those parishes. Many parishioners will say that their parish is not just a school or church but “a way of life.”
In the upcoming church bulletin for Saint Tarcissus, Pastor Mike Grisolano wrote, “We live in challenging times in the world and the Church in the Archdiocese is going through major, painful changes. Please pray and be sympathetic to the pain of others in the loss they are feeling. The goal of the RMC merger is to bring about a great strength in our worship, community and service, all for the building up of the Kingdom of God. God is purifying his Church right. It is isn’t fun.”