CPS to buy former St. Cornelius school, rectory & convent for new early education center that would serve Jefferson Park community
by BRIAN NADIG
The Chicago Public Schools is planning to pay $3,325,000 for the former Saint Cornelius School, 5252 N. Long Ave., where an early education center for the Jefferson Park community would open in the fall of 2022.
Plans for the pre-school were announced in early 2017, but at that time CPS was intending to rent the property.
The Saint Cornelius School closed in 2016, and the church hosted its last Mass in 2020. Saint Cornelius merged last year with Saint Thecla and Saint Tarcissus to form the new Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity Parish, which operates on the former Saint Tarcissus campus, 6020 W. Ardmore Ave.
Under the purchase agreement CPS would acquire the former Saint Cornelius school, rectory and convent, but the church and a portion of the site’s parking would remain part of the Saint Elizabeth parish. There reportedly is no buyer lined up for the church, which would have to go through a process called “relegated to profane use” if the church were sold for non-worshipping purposes.
Proceeds for the sale of the buildings would go to Saint Elizabeth, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago.
CPS would receive income from a lease which T-Mobile reportedly has for a cell phone antennae on the Saint Cornelius grounds, according to Chicago Board of Education documents.
Saint Elizabeth pastor Mike Grisolano said that preparations are being made for the anticipated sale, including the establishment of separate utilities for the school and church side of the property. He added that religious items on the property are being transferred to Saint Elizabeth and in some instances are being given to another parish and that “an estate sale” will be held later this summer in which parishioners can make a donation in order to keep some items.
“We are having the beautiful Mary statue moved from the front prayer garden there to the prayer garden here at Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity. This is a fitting spot for it that is visible and balances the Holy Family statue already there.
“Also, we will attempt to move the memorial pavers from Saint Cornelius to this garden, (and) another parish is interested in using the altar and reredos from the convent chapel for a new Eucharistic Adoration chapel. We also are preserving the beautiful stained glass images of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the sacristy cabinet for use in the new rectory chapel here at Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity,” Grisolano recently posted on the parish website.
In addition, the food pantry has been relocated from the rectory at 5205 N. Lieb Ave. to the Saint Cornelius Church, 5430 W. Foster Ave., Grisolano said.
The school board approved the acquisition of the former Saint Cornelius School in May, but the sale has not closed. CPS would be acquiring about 66,500 square feet of land.
Earlier this year the former Saint Thecla School building, 6323 N. Newcastle Ave., was sold to the Philadelphia Romanian Church of God.
The fate of another closed Catholic school, Our Lady of Victory at 4434 N. Laramie Ave., is not known.