Shrine of Christ the King holds first mass since fire

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Shrine of Christ the King Church in Woodlawn is holding their first mass at their new temporary home in the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago gymnasium, following a fire that ripped through their church during a rehab project. It is expected to be an emotional day for parishioners.

The gymnasium at First Presbyterian Church of Chicago has not been used in 15 years. Volunteers brought over things from the old Christ the King church, including pews and altars, to transform the space into a temporary sanctuary.

More than 150 firefighters were called to the 90-year-old church on Oct. 7 to fight the blaze. Chicago Fire Department detectives said spontaneous combustion from rags used to stain the floor of the choir pew was most likely the culprit in starting the fire. A renovation project to the church, which was ravaged by fire 40 years ago, was underway at the time. The church said they sustained $3 million in damage.

Last week parishioners had nowhere to go to worship, until First Presbyterian offered their gym.

"It's amazing how quickly it all came together," said Rev. Mattew Talarico. "Just in seven days we were able to transform a gym, which was a tennis court and basketball court in one, into this beautiful church space with the help of 60 volunteers."

Mass will be held at 10 a.m. and will include some of the firefighters who helped fight the blaze at the original church.

Parishioners attending the Sunday morning 8 a.m. service said they are so pleased to be back with their church family.

"It felt like home because my priests were there, and the parishioners that I've been with for years were there. Yeah, it felt comfortable," said parishioner Jim Wojack.

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