Exploring the world through parish ethnic roots
Recently, nine Residents of St. Mary’s Home embarked on a tour of Catholic Churches in northside Chicago neighborhoods. We visited three churches that reflect the diversity of Chicago through the years. The journey began by traveling north on Western Ave. to St. Benedict Parish, which was founded in 1901 by German immigrants. The church was built in the Roman style of architecture. Its detailed stained glass windows and intricately carved wooden altar, ambo, and baptismal fount display the craftsmanship of the time.
The next stop was further north on Ashland Ave. at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, founded in 1892, in an area that was also predominantly German at the time. The church was originally on the east side of the street facing east-west, but was moved across the street and rotated to be north-south. The move was made to accommodate the widening of Ashland Ave., and to lengthen the church to serve the growing community. One can see the cut in the wood that divided the church in half in order to move it. Our Lady of Lourdes was quite similar to St. Benedict being built in the Roman style.
Our tour concluded back near St. Mary’s Home at St. Alphonsus, which was founded in 1882. It too was built by German immigrants, but its Gothic architecture was very different from the other two churches. The tall steeple and ceiling are designed to lift the mind and heart to the heavens. This church has endured several fires affecting both the church and the attached school.
All three churches were beautiful and unique. Once one sees the churches in Chicago, there is no reason to go to Europe. Each had details specific to the namesake and the ethnic roots. The Residents enjoyed learning the history of each church and hearing detailed explanations of the architecture. Through the tour, they gained a greater appreciation for the intricacies and the meaning behind the many symbols that represent Christ in the church.
Afterwards, we went to McDonalds where the Residents picked a treat of their choice. Everyone enjoyed the afternoon, which was provided by our benefactors.