Parishioners try to save church destroyed in fire

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Three months after a fire gutted the Shrine of Christ the King Church on the South side, parishioners are fighting to save their church from demolition.

The city's Commission on Chicago Landmarks couldn't decide whether to tear down the nearly 100-year-old church, located on the corner of 64th and South Kimbark Avenue in the Woodlawn neighborhood.

"It's heartbreaking," said parishioner Kevin Baldwin. "My granddaughter was baptized there, my daughter was married there, we're attached to it."

The shrine was undergoing rehab work on Oct. 7 when it ignited a huge fire, destroying the sanctuary.

A neighboring church opened its doors, and since then, parishioners have been worshiping there, waiting on word telling them when their beloved shrine will be rebuilt.

But that may not happen.

According to archdiocese, the repairs are just too costly, possibly in the millions of dollars.

"The archdiocese of Chicago is the owner of the building so the future of the building is their decision and we respect that," said Rev. Canon Matthew Talarico, of Christ the King.

But members are not sitting back.

Some have formed the Coalition to Save the Shrine and are working with neighbors and preservation experts to prevent demolition.

"There are certainly many people many communities that have a very vested interest in this building being here," said Emily Nielsen, of Coalition to Save the Shrine.

The archdiocese has not yet made its final decision. They are offering the church the option of rebuilding a new church or moving to an existing church.

For more information about the Coalition to save the Shrine, visit
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