Chicago: the Saga of a Cancelled Parish

Voiced by Amazon Polly

Editor’s note: the month of August has now passed since the cancellation of the Chicago ICKSP shrine by Cardinal Cupich, while the deadline looms for more cancellations in DC and Arlington in the month of Our Lady of Sorrows. On this month’s First Friday, we offer this retelling of the Shrine’s saga, to prepare the hearts of the faithful to endure yet more for their Roman Catholic birthright.

Less than seven years after the faithful parishioners of the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, run by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP) in Chicago, had lost their church to a blaze, another type of inferno seemed ready to swallow up their community. This Blaise, specifically Blaise Cardinal Cupich, was rumored to be dealing a death blow to the burgeoning apostolate of the ICKSP.

Responding to Pope Francis’ unjust motu proprio, Traditiones Custodes, Cardinal Cupich issued his own draconian implementation policy for the Archdiocese of Chicago in January of 2022. While all priests of the Archdiocese were required to literally sign on the dotted line that they agreed to the provisions of Cardinal Cupich’s policy, the only priests to hold fast and refuse to sign were the Canons of the Shrine. Pope Francis in 2016 had re-confirmed the Constitution of the ICKSP, which specifically stated that the Canons only offered the Mass of the Ages.  As such, amongst other provisions, the Canons could not in good faith agree to Cardinal Cupich’s policy that all priests of the Archdiocese offer the Mass according to the Missal of Pope Paul VI on the first Sunday of each month.

Since February of 2022, as featured in this story surrounding the Monthly Rosary Rally for the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) in Chicago, the Canons had resisted compliance with the unjust order and continued to offer the TLM on the first Sunday of the month. All the while, the Canons continued to have a good faith dialogue with the Archdiocese regarding the demands of Cardinal Cupich. Despite clearly being within their rights, reports surfaced on July 15, 2022 that the Canons at the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest might have their faculties for the public administration of the Sacraments and Mass yanked by the Anti-Trad Enforcer.

On the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost – July 17, 2022, a toasty Chicago Sunday in July, the faithful of the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest packed the makeshift chapel and overflow rooms in the former St. Clara School, used while the main church is being resurrected after its 2015 fire. Like unto family members for an unwell beloved relative, waiting to hear the outcome of the diagnosis, parishioners eagerly awaited news on the fate of their community. Yet no news was to be heard from the pulpit, as Canon Matthew Talarico, the Provincial Superior for the ICKSP’s American Province, informed parishioners that no statement was to be made and instead Eucharistic Adoration would be held directly after the 10:30am High Mass. The intention of the Eucharistic Adoration, which continued all afternoon for the intention of the Shrine and its continued flourishing, was a moving site that could have softened the hardest of hearts.

Adoration after Mass on July 17, 2024 at the Shrine (image courtesy of Trevor Alcorn)

In a sense, there was a strong parallel to the administration of Extreme Unction for a person in danger of death, and asking for Our Lord’s assistance with the Shrine’s precarious position. The Sacrament of Extreme Unction can have extraordinary – even miraculous – healing powers for an individual, if it is so willed by God. The hours-long adoration of the Triune God had a similar intention for the beloved Shrine that was on life support.

The following week, parishioners and traditional Catholics around the world continued to wait at the Shrine’s bedside, offering prayers and fasting that it might be spared from Cardinal Cupich’s malice. Even Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò weighed in on the reported situation, reinforcing the fact that the eyes of the globe were on Chicago. Yet nothing formal was announced by either the ICKSP or the Archdiocese of Chicago, until Sunday, July 31st.

Requiem for a Shrine

Staring the faithful in the eyes as they entered the Shrine for Mass on the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, was an ominous sign reading “As of August 1st, the celebration of public Masses is suspended. Confession Times are discontinued. The Chapel remains open for prayer.” Standing like a stark Death Notice in a local paper, the outcome of their beloved community was finally clear: Death by Cupich.

Undeterred, the faithful along with the Canons gave their beloved Shrine a farewell to remember. Following the 10:30am High Mass, a Eucharistic procession took place along the streets of the Woodlawn neighborhood. An emotional crowd of the faithful wound their way to the front steps of the Shrine’s church, still actively undergoing its restoration. In front of the main doors, Canon Talarico installed Our Lord for Eucharistic Adoration. Kneeling in the street and on the sidewalk, parishioners prayed for the ICKSP, the Shrine, and even for the persecutor of their community: Cardinal Cupich. There could hardly be a more moving response to such a heartless decree by a Prince of the Church. While there are is no such thing as a Requiem Mass and Rite of Burial for a Shrine, the ceremony beautifully laid to rest a community that has done so much for the spiritual wellbeing of the faithful in the Archdiocese.

The True Target of Cardinal Cupich’s Order:
Faithful Parishioners

Aside from the truly holy and inspirational clergy that administer the Shrine (Canons Talarico, Zignego, and Abbé Schmidt), among those impacted the most by this heinous act of Cardinal Cupich, are the faithful parishioners that call the Shrine their spiritual home. These are not faceless people, and they certainly are not “rigid,” “backwardist,” or whatever other derogatory label Pope Francis might apply to these individuals. Rather, they are faithful that are simply trying to lead their families and themselves to Heaven.

Take the experience of Mr. Dave Kelly, a parishioner of 15 years at the Shrine:

I was a fallen away Catholic when I found the ICKSP. Finding the Institute was an answer to a prayer I had prayed a few times from time to time. I would say, ‘Lord, find me good holy priests and a good church to attend.’ The beautiful part about this answered prayer is God continues to answer this prayer through the Institute, Canons, Oblates, and faithful of the Shrine who are now my spiritual family. The graces that pour forth from the Shrine are like a broken faucet that will not turn off; it’s up to you to bring an empty pail to fill up on all the graces and blessings flowing forth.

Similar to Mr. Kelly, Ms. Stephanie Breaux had lapsed in her Catholic faith before discovering the Shrine and the Latin Mass in 2011.  Since that time, her faith has been rejuvenated thanks to the ICKSP.  Responding to the impact that the Shrine has not only had on her, but on others, Ms. Breaux had the following to share:

The Shrine Canons are respected in the Woodlawn community. Since I live in South Shore I hear positive comments about the Canons. The Canons are always available to the community and parishioners… Our Canons were instrumental [in a prominent physicist’s return to Catholicism] and his wife’s conversion. There are numerous conversion stories from the Shrine. The Canons have built ecumenical bridges in the Woodlawn community and the Shrine is an oasis in Chicago where all are welcome.

Mrs. Dolores Pribble, who with her husband Danniel organizes the Monthly Rosary Rally for the Latin Mass in Chicago, has a deep connection to the Shrine. She grew up going to the Shrine, and was even married there, which made her insight on the impact of the situation all the more relevant:

I wish the Cardinal could visit just once and see all the good that is happening there: the young adult groups, the special litanies and devotions, the families who drive from miles around, the little boys who love to serve Mass, the young women who are using their talents to give glory to God in the choir… If you want to see hope for our Church, it is the place to be! It pains me to see these people getting kicked out of their spiritual home for no good reason.

Though it took her more than an hour each way to drive to the Shrine, Mrs. Catherine Glidewell, a mother of six and grandmother of eight, never viewed the distance as an obstacle when the Shrine gave her family the spiritual sustenance it needed. A parishioner since 2010, Catherine had high praises for the Shrine and the Canons:

The Canons offered monthly spiritual talks, helping us to better understand and learn the faith. Social gatherings were a regular occurrence, always giving us an opportunity to meet new people and bring new people to the Faith. The Shrine offered a place where like-minded people could come together, a real safe haven from the pagan society we live in. The Canons were always there for us you could call them night or day when in need, many times driving great distances to give a family member Anointing of the Sick. It was through the Shrine of Christ the King that I became a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart uniting me with members worldwide. It is so sad to think new members will not be coming from the Shrine. Many tears were shed yesterday after the last Mass at the Shrine [July 31, 2022]. It cannot be put into words the deep emotion that is felt at such a great loss to the families that have attended there.

Lastly, Ms. Emily Alcarez, who was scheduled to enter into matrimony at the Shrine to her fiancé Matthew, will now have to find another ICKSP administered church for their wedding. The now necessary rearrangement of her wedding plans was simply salt in the wound for this ardent admirer of the Shrine. Ms. Alcarez only had glowing praise for the Shrine:

I have always seen the Shrine as a spiritual oasis of grace in the moral wasteland that is Illinois. The Shrine is my sanctuary and the place where I feel the safest and most well-loved. The Canons are incredibly selfless and wise. I trust them with my life, and more importantly, with my soul. They are the holiest men I have ever known and their counsel has never failed me.

Epilogue

The impact of the apparent death of the ICKSP’s Shrine in Chicago goes far beyond the Archdiocese of Chicago, and even these United States of America. Since the release of Traditiones Custodes (TC), this is the first time that a prelate has given an ultimatum to a former Ecclesia Dei Community that runs counter to their Constitution, and removed faculties when the society refuses to obey the unjust order. Is this just another front in the unfolding saga of TC, or a one-off exception due to the anti-Trad track record of Cardinal Cupich? Only time will tell, as the Mass of the Ages undergoes continued withering attacks with no end in sight during the current pontificate.

At the micro level, what is next for the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in Chicago? Another resurrection is not out of the question for the Shrine. The path forward is far from crystal clear though. One option, even if few may want to hear it, is waiting out the clock for a more favorable Archbishop and/or Holy Father. However, Our Lord does work in mysterious ways, so who knows what else might positively impact the current status. Chicago, which is referred to as the “Second City,” is called this nickname due to its rising from the ashes a second time after it was burned to the ground in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. There may not be a city with a better track record of comebacks, to plan on the revitalization of the Shrine!

In the meantime, parishioners of the Shrine are finding alternate parishes offering the Traditional Latin Mass, in order to be nourished with the Mass of the Ages. Some will go to the ICKSP’s locations in Rockford, Illinois or Hammond, Indiana; while others will go to a diocesan TLM or the FSSP’s Rockdale, Illinois location within the Diocese of Joliet. Yet others will make their way to the SSPX in Oak Park, Illinois or to the TLM at St. John Cantius. This much is clear: there is no turning back for the faithful that find the Mass of the Ages not to be a mere preference compared to the Novus Ordo Missae, but objectively better. The evil actions of prelates such as Cardinal Cupich, have only hardened the resolve of the faithful to carry on, even though their Shrine may be (temporarily) dead and gone.

 

Please note that no members of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP) were contacted for comment on this story. The opinions expressed by the author and parishioners of the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest quoted in the story, do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the ICKSP as a whole, or the Canons that administer the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in Chicago, Illinois.

All images used are courtesy of Xavier Boudreau, unless otherwise noted.

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email