Well ... oops.
My article last week which suggested that the three Catholic parishes of Calumet City would stay open as a gradual plan to merge them into one, in time, was developed.
That didn’t jive with the reality that was laid out last Tuesday at TF North auditorium where a large number of souls from the three parishes met to hear the decision of the Archdiocese.
St. Victor, St. Andrew, and Our Lady of Knock will be united as one new parish with one staff and a new name by next year. Keeping OLK and St. Andrew church sites open while closing St. Victor by 2020.
As you might imagine, many people from the parish with the highest weekly mass attendance, the highest numbers of baptisms, communions, confessions, confirmations, religious ed students, marriages and the one with the greatest diversity, were unhappy, to put it mildly, when they were told in fact, it was their parish, St. Victor, that would be closed. Especially as St. Victor is debt free and solvent.
Also adding to the dismay and confusion over the decision to close St. Victor, was the fact that discussions were being held with city government regarding a revitalization of the corridor from Wentworth School down Memorial Drive to Wentworth Avenue and Wilson School. This street also includes Memorial Park and ... St. Victor parish.
In those discussions was the demolition of part or all of the St. Victor School building which is in very bad condition.
There was talk of an open plaza taking the place of the torn down school. Architects had been consulted.
Memorial Drive has already been re-surfaced. Talks are afoot to slow down traffic and re-surface Burnham Avenue
A large part of the idea of revitalizing Burnham Avenue and Memorial Drive was the fact that 1000 or so people are in the area for the masses at St. Victor.
Ideas and help were already coming from urban planning experts from the University of Illinois Chicago. And public money has already been spent. There has also been up uptick in housing activity in the area.
Was this information part of the proposal made to the Archdiocese? In time?
Although one pastor deemed that “false news”, all of what I mentioned was/is in the works.
Most Catholics in Cal City see the reality down the line that one parish in town, given the shortage of priests and dwindling numbers of congregants, is all that’s needed.
But to close up the largest and, by most any means of measurement, the most vibrant of the parishes is…well…for lack of a better word… wrong.
And monumentally hurtful to a lot of folks. Folks whose history includes several decades of onsite formational retreats, outreach teams to aid the addicted, Victor Care services for the needy (today Calumet City Resources), over thirty years of feeding the hungry on Sundays (Community Meal). 28 years of a large summer program for youth (Operation Summer), the establishment of Spanish masses at St. Victor and then at OLK, and on and on.
For four decades, St. Victor didn’t just talk the talk…we walked the walk.
We are to close?
We’ll see how this plays out.
Thanks for reading.