CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A Chicago Catholic church that survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 is looking for "another miracle".
Holy Family Church, 1080 W. Roosevelt Rd., is Chicago’s second oldest Catholic church and is facing another fight for its life as the Archdiocese of Chicago announces new changes.
Last night, according to Fr. Mike Gabriel, pastor of Holy Family, Bishop Robert Casey and Fr. Jason Malave of the Archdiocese announced that, starting July 1, Holy Family Church will become part of the nearby Notre Dame de Chicago parish.
Although Fr. Gabriel said the archdiocese is not "technically" cloing Holy Family, the parish's one Sunday morning mass at 9:45 a.m. will be eliminated and its Sunday 5 p.m. mass will remain, for now, as will weddings.
"If you cut out the Sunday liturgy, which is the basic heart of the parish, you’re basically cutting the roots of the parish, so down the road it’s going to rot and die," Fr. Gabriel said.
"I’m very disappointed, very broken-hearted and dis-hearted by the whole process."
Fr. Gabriel said Holy Family is financially stable.
"We average about 90 weddings a year, 80 baptisms, all our bills are paid and we have money in savings," he said.
He said the parish is a small one with about 400 families, but he said it's a diverse parish with a variety of ethnic groups represented. He also said people come from all over the city of Chicago and from suburbs as far away as Mundelein and Barrington to attend mass at Holy Family.
Fr. Gabriel thinks the Archdiocese is moving towards an eventual total pullout of the 160-year-old church because the Jesuit order owns it, not the archdiocese.
"There’s a quote out there that we’ve heard: 'One less lease, one more priest.'"
That means one more priest to put into an archdiocese-owned church at a time when the number of priests is dwindling.
Fr. Gabriel said there are already 76 weddings planned for Holy Family Church in 2019, 20 planned for 2020 and nine intake forms sitting on his desk.
Holy Family was closed for 10 years before a restoration effort and reopening in 1994. It survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
The oldest church in Chicago is Old St. Patrick's at Adams and Desplaines.