Ald. Sposato holds street dedication for OLV parish, which closes June 30; Save Our Lady of Victory Inc. hopes the church is preserved
by BRIAN NADIG
An “Our Lady of Victory Way” honorary street sign has been installed at the Laramie-Agatite intersection next to the Our Lady of Victory Church, which is expected to close this fall as part of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s “Renew My Church” unification process.
Alderman Nicholas Sposato (38th) hosted a June 13 sign dedication ceremony, whose attendees also included OLV pastor Michael Wyrzykowski, Alderman James Gardiner (45th), former 45th Ward alderman Patrick Levar and dozens of parishioners.
The OLV parish will be consolidating on July 1 with the Saint Pascal and Saint Bartholomew parishes, whose churches will not be closing. The last Mass at OLV is expected to be held in November.
It was recently announced that the newly consolidated parish will be named “Our Lady of the Rosary.”
Save Our Lady of Victory Inc. is a nonprofit group which is trying to preserve the parish and the church, and some of its members are behind a pending appeal to the Vatican regarding the closing of the OLV parish.
Founded in 1906, “OLV is the oldest parish on the Far Northwest Side,” said Save Our Lady of Victory member Susanna Ernst. “Our biggest concern is the preservation of the complex itself. … As far as we know, it’s the only Spanish Mission-style church (in Chicago) with an asymmetric steeple.”
The parish grounds include lower (1927) and upper (1954) churches that are built on top of each other, and a portion of the existing school building, which closed about 5 years ago, was constructed in 1910 and was once used as a church, Ernst said.
If the archdiocese does sell the property, the group’s hope is that the buyer would repurpose the existing buildings, Ernst said.
Father Jason Malave, a Renew My Church liaison to Cardinal Blase Cupich, said that Father Michael O’Connell, who has been named as the pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary, would be holding discussions with parishioners to determine the “next best use” for the property. Proceeds from any sale of the land would go to the new Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, he said.
Any potential sale of the OLV campus could be years away, as the church building would have to go through a “relegating to profane use” process prior to any sale. The process has the effect of transferring the church from sacred to secular use.
In addition, a second set of appeals, this time objecting to the closing of the church building itself, could be filed with the archdiocese and then the Vatican.
Some OLV parishioners have said that the parish should remain in place given that it was operating without any financial debt.
Malave said that the decision-making process on the unification of parishes takes into account structural and spiritual issues, but one of the main goals is to “reactivate” Catholics in their role as disciples, spreading the teachings of Jesus. He added that “the picture of a parish is bigger than the health of (its) school” and its parish grounds.
A vigil to pay tribute to the OLV parish and its 100-plus years of history is set for 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 30, outside the church.