Angels rise again at Holy Family Parish

March 12, 2008 4:11:34 PM PDT
More than 150 years ago Holy Family Parish opened on the West Side. A few years later, a massive organ with golden angels debuted. But those angels fell into disrepair- until now. Holy Family Parish opened in 1857. It survived the Great Chicago Fire, but the West Side church fell victim to the ravages of time. Twenty years ago, the church was almost demolished. But fundraising led to restoration, and now a rebirth as the golden angels go back above the organ.

"For well over 100 years they presided over this church, four stories above the floor of the church. And they saw everything happening here," said Fr. Jeremiah Boland, pastor of Holy Family Parish.

On Wednesday morning, the angels they were raised on high. The 29 golden statues will end up on top of the organ case, where they stood from 1870 until 2002. By then they had lost their heavenly aura.

"One of the angels had fallen," said Walter Bradford, pres. of Bradford Organ Company. "A fallen angel ... and, ah ... which actually had prompted the church to recommend bringing all of them down."

An old photo shows the gilded angels were once painted white. But, after years of restoration the golden heavenly angels got their wings back. They can fly.

"This has been a dream for years and years and years that these angels would find their way back up to their pedestals," said Fr. Boland.

By Easter Sunday all of the scaffolding will have been removed and all 29, hand-carved wooden angels will be in place. Holy family parish rises again.

"Risen again and hopefully we'll keep rising as we move into the future," said Fr. Boland.