New life for historic church damaged by fire

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Crews are busy clearing out debris at Shrine of Christ the King six months after a devastating fire caused millions of dollars in damage. (WLS)

Crews are busy clearing out debris at Shrine of Christ the King six months after a devastating fire caused millions of dollars in damage.

It's a construction site that holds deep spiritual meaning in Woodlawn.

"I've been waiting to do this since October. So I'm glad to get started," said Rev. Canon Matthew Talarico, Institute of Christ the King.

Shrine of Christ the King was gutted by fire six months ago when the near-100-year-old church burned most of the day, the result of an accident - oil stained rags that spontaneously caught fire.

The chapel was to be demolished, but now the landmark will be saved in a five-phase renovation. Damage and debris will be removed in order to replace the roof in phase one.

"We are in a race to do that before winter and hopefully if all cooperates, we will be successful with that," Talarico said.

"Of course I hope to see it restored to the magnificence it was," said David Greene.

"I'm so glad that we're not closing down and we will be here," said Ella Greene.

The Greenes came to view the progress. Despite the damage, Ella Greene finds comfort in the Shrine and more importantly the congregation. The priests had been offering her ailing mother communion at home, and when her mother died earlier this month, she says the Shrine and its people were a great source of strength.

"The spirit you feel in it and the warmth of the people who are here - right now, if I had Mass here I'd feel just as good," said Ella Greene.

For now, services continue to be held around the corner. The Shrine hopes to collect another $1.4 million to finish phase one.

The entire renovation will take millions of dollars and years to complete.

When asked how long it will be until the congregation returns to its home, the answer was, it's in God's time.


Related Topics:
religionreligioncatholic churchbuilding fireChicago - Woodlawn
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