clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Northwest Side Greek church sold; congregation must move by year’s end

Faithful have flocked to Holy Trinity Hellenic Orthodox Church since two glistening streaks were seen beneath the eyes of a painting of the Virgin Mary.

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
Provided photo

The Rev. Nick Jonas sat in court Tuesday wearing his long, black cassock and caressing a prayer rope.

He puffed out his cheeks and slowly exhaled when it was all over — in about 20 minutes.

“I feel — I’ll use a nice word — distraught. It’s upsetting how easy it is, so matter of fact,” Jonas said.

He was referring to U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Barnes’ approval of the sale of the cavernous Northwest Side building that, since the 1960s, has housed Holy Trinity Hellenic Orthodox Church.

For the past few days, the story has been about the glistening streaks that suddenly appeared beneath the eyes of a painting of the Virgin Mary inside the church. But on Tuesday, it wasn’t about tears — real or imagined. It was about money.

“Tears” having been falling from the Virgin Mary’s face at Holy Trinity Hellenic Orthodox Church on the Northwest Side since Sunday morning.
“Tears” having been falling from the Virgin Mary’s face at Holy Trinity Hellenic Orthodox Church on the Northwest Side since Sunday morning.
Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

The church, heavily in debt, had gone into foreclosure and the bank wanted to be paid. Parishioners had been praying for a savior with deep pockets, but none came. The judge, without any legal objections, on Tuesday approved the $2.5 million sale of the building to another religious group unaffiliated with Jonas or his parishioners.

“I almost jumped up to say, ‘I object!’ but I didn’t have any [legal] grounds and I didn’t have a check for $3 million,” said Stanley Andreakis, 54, a pharmacist, who has been attending the church at 6041 W. Diversey Ave. for 40 years and came to court in his work scrubs.

The congregation now has about two months to find another home, likely temporary — and a place to store its church relics, including the one that has drawn dozens and dozens of the faithful, after a church caretaker looked up to see Mary’s “tears.”

Jonas said it’s likely the congregation will meet — those that can fit — in a tiny cemetery chapel in River Grove.

“It’s free and safe from all this other garbage going on,” he said with disgust.