Preservation group says Mass has been suspended at Shrine of Christ the King Church, raising concern for future of landmark

Jennifer Blackman, a member of the Coalition to Save the Shrine, said many questions have gone unanswered by the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.

SHARE Preservation group says Mass has been suspended at Shrine of Christ the King Church, raising concern for future of landmark
Screen_Shot_2022_08_02_at_8.31.54_PM.png

Members of Coalition to Save the Shrine worry what’s to come for the Shrine of Christ the King Catholic Church in Woodlawn now that Mass and other sacraments have been suspended there.

Shrine of Christ the King Catholic Church

Woodlawn community organizers say public Masses have been suspended at the Shrine of Christ the King Catholic Church, and they worry the Archdiocese of Chicago is planning to shutter the landmark.

Mass and other sacraments at Shrine of Christ the King, 6401 S. Woodlawn Ave., were suspended on Monday, according to Jennifer Blackman, a member of the Coalition to Save the Shrine, a nonprofit organization aiming to restore the church.

Blackman said the ban came from the archdiocese under a directive issued early this year to bring parishes and shrines in line with a papal decree aimed at limiting Mass being celebrated in Latin. Christ the King Church only celebrates Mass in Latin.

But a representative of the archdiocese disputed Blackman, saying the decision to stop the Masses was made by the church.

“They chose to discontinue the Masses and sent the archdiocese a letter [on July 31] stating that they would stop offering Mass and other sacraments at the Shrine,” said Susan Thomas, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese. “They were not denied. We did not ban them. They chose to discontinue altogether.”

“The Shrine had the option to continue Latin Mass under the guidelines and decided not to,” Thomas added. “It is a false statement that we have a citywide Latin Mass ban. That’s simply untrue. Latin Mass is offered in the archdiocese.”

Early this year, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich sent instructions to parishes and shrines for the “continuation of the Latin Mass in a manner consistent with the decree of Pope Francis,” Thomas said.

Cupich stated in the instructions, “As of Jan. 25, 2022, all priests, deacons and instituted ministers need to request and receive permission from the Archbishop of Chicago” if they wished to celebrate the Mass in Latin.

The cardinal listed several conditions that need to be met in making such requests, most of them dealing with recent reforms in the church. “Latin Mass continues in the archdiocese under those instructions,” Thomas said.

The Coalition to Save the Shrine was formed in January 2016 after fire destroyed the roof of the church. The organization said more than $3 million was raised to repair the damage and save the church from demolition, according to Blackman.

Gabriel Piemonte, co-founder of Save the Shrine, said the recent developments “are a cause for concern.”

“We and other community stakeholders are requesting that the archdiocese be transparent in the decision-making process to ensure the future of the building reflects its highest and best use,” Piemonte said.

The building was constructed in 1927 as St. Clara Church. It was granted landmark status in 2003 as St. Gelasius.

Blackman said representatives from Coalition to Save the Shrine plan to speak at Thursday’s Commission on Chicago Landmarks meeting.

The Latest
The Storm exposed the inconsistency of the Sky’s defense, beating them 111-100 at Wintrust Arena in Bird’s final regular-season game in Chicago.
The awards recognize “journalism that best covers the Black experience or addresses issues affecting the worldwide Black community.”
The Cubs claimed Reyes off waivers from the Guardians and optioned Frank Schwindel to Triple-A Iowa to clear space on the active roster.
The start of the new school year is an opportunity to recommit ourselves to those efforts. A recent report by the Illinois State Board of Education found roughly 5,300 unfilled positions at Illinois schools, including more than 1,000 openings at CPS.