Holy Family Church – Chicago’s Second Oldest – to Celebrate its 150th Anniversary Sunday December 30, 2007,
with “Feast of the Holy Family” Liturgy Presided by Cardinal George, Dedication of New Pastoral Center,
Day-Long Open House, Pre-Chicago Fire Souvenirs
CHICAGO—December 18, 2007—Historic Holy Family Church, 1080 West Roosevelt Rd., Chicago, that escaped the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, threatened demolition in 1990 and a near disastrous fire in 2003 , will mark its 150th anniversary with a day-long celebration and open house Sunday, December 30, 2007, the Feast of the Holy Family.
Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., archbishop of Chicago, whose paternal grandmother, Mary Connelly George, was baptized in 1870 at Holy Family and was a member of the parish for nearly three decades, will preside at a Solemn liturgy at 9:45 a.m. to mark the Sesquicentennial of the Holy Family parish, according to Rev. Jeremiah J. Boland, parish administrator.
“We invite all Chicago to join with Holy Family’s active parish community on this special day in its long history of serving the people of the city.
“We urge anyone who has a link with Chicago’s first Jesuit church—through baptisms, marriages, education in its network of schools, or a relative’s funeral-- to return on this special Feast of the Holy Family to receive a family blessing,” said Father Boland. He invited all who come to bring photographs, school records, diplomas, Mass cards, calendars or other mementos of their family’s days in the parish to share with others and then retain for themselves.
During the day-long celebration, visitors will have an opportunity to place their name and the names of their relatives in a Historic Parish Register that will be retained for future special occasions.
Visitors and parishioners are invited to nominate items symbolic of the parish’s 150 years of service to the people of Chicago to be placed in a time capsule that will be installed later in the Sesquicentennial period of 2007-2010 and opened when Holy Family celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2057-2060. Holy Family’s spirited Gospel Choir under the direction of professor Sam Parker will participate in the Anniversary Mass.
Following the 9:45 a.m. liturgy there will be an Open House with tours of the church led by volunteer docents and a brunch will be served in the Chicago Room of the adjacent historic St. Ignatius College Prep, 1076 West Roosevelt Rd., one of the original schools founded by Father Damen. A heroic-size statue of the Jesuit priest, pastor and college president, stands in the school’s front yard overlooking Roosevelt Road.
Parking lots will be open at Roosevelt Road west of May Street and on May Street north of Roosevelt Road.
Other highlights of the 150th anniversary event will be:
- Dedication of New Parish Center Cardinal George will dedicate the new Parish Center which adjoins the historic church (see details below).
- Original slate roof tiles dating to 1859 that covered Holy Family Church until 1991 when a massive restoration project was launched will be on display. The pre-Chicago Fire slate tiles, which protected the massive structure whose interior was designed by John Mills Van Osdel, Chicago’s first registered architect, for 130 years, were recently uncovered in a little used basement cellar and have been prepared as mementos of the Sesquicentennial with an authentication of their historic heritage. The slates are available for a donation of $50 each.
- A large restored historic processional banner dating to 1861 that was carried through near west side streets in parish processions to celebrate major feast days will be displayed. The rare piece is scheduled to be on loan in the Chicago History Museum for an exhibit on “Catholic Chicago” in early, 2008.
- Holy Family’s Hidden treasures exhibition consisting of long forgotten chalices, gold monstrances, processional candlesticks, crowns for Virgin Mary statues and church vestments brought from Paris in 1863 will be on display. The rare collection of ancient church properties were discovered in 2002 when Father Boland, then newly appointed parish administrator, hired a safe cracker to drill into a sealed vault in the church’s sacristy to discover its contents.
- Hand-carved gilded wooden angel statues, created by Charles Olivier-Dauphin in Montréal in 1870. This important group of angels represents the largest collection of Dauphin’s work anywhere in the world. Much of the Canadian artist’s work has been destroyed in church fires or by demolition. The orchestra of intricately crafted angels is scheduled to be returned atop the massive 1870 organ case built by Mitchell & Sons of Montréal as soon as funds become available for necessary restoration work.
- Rice Frobenius organ, a massive 50-year old pipe organ brought to Chicago last year from St. Maria
Church, Helsingor, Denmark and installed in Holy Family last year will be played during the Open House.
Originally built by Theodore Frobenius, a Danish organ-builder, the instrument is named in his honor and
in recognition of an acquisition grant by the Rice Foundation.
The 29-rank instrument built in the tradition of the 17th century Baroque composer and performer, Diderik Buxtehude, the instrument was acquired with the assistance of the Rice Foundation and the Hooper Foundation which provided funds for the transportation, restoration and installation of the organ. Keith Hooper, of the Hooper Foundation, a Chicago musician, collector of historical musical instruments and a philanthropist, has been most helpful to Holy Family and its musical program, said Father Boland.
Holy Family Today—Serving a Growing, Diverse Community’s Needs
“Holy Family reflects the rebirth of the near west side of the city. Our congregation represents a wide range of ethnic, racial and economic groups—whites, blacks, Latinos and Asians-- drawn from the near west side community and the entire Chicago metropolitan area,” Father Boland said.
The parish continues to expand its community outreach with a food pantry, links to the West Side job training and skills center and youth and parish ministry programs, he explained.
“Symbolic of the parish’s rebirth, we’re delighted that Cardinal George will dedicate Holy Family’s new Parish Center, a beautiful structure designed and constructed with the assistance of St. Ignatius College Prep and the Archdiocese of Chicago to compliment the 1857 design of the historic church,” he said.
The new Parish Center adjoins the west wall of Holy Family Church and provides handicap access to the first floor and Damen Hall in the church basement. The new facility has conference rooms for parish meetings, a bride’s room and offices for the pastor and staff.
A rotating gallery of historic photos of generations of Chicagoans who participated in the life of Holy Family over 15 decades is a principal feature of the new Parish Center.
# # #