Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Faithing in Chicago: a Visit to a Croatian-Franciscan Church
Blessed Alojzije Stepinac Croatian Church Chicago Outside II
When Cathi and I were undergrads at Northeastern Illinois University Cathi took a photography class. This required that she take outdoor photos. I still remember a heavy snow covered cemetery and church, the old St. Henry’s next to Guardian Angel Orphanage. The church looked spectacular with its tall steeple and guardian gargoyles. I hoped to one day see the inside of the church. I never guessed that would happen 30 years later. Nor would I have guessed it would be a Croatian, Franciscan Church. Last week I attended Mass at Blessed Alojzije Stepinac Croatian Church, same church building, different congregation.
I had also been interested in Croats for a long time. I use to drive by the Croatian cultural Center and wonder what it would be like to ago inside. Our superintendent of our building in Chicago was a Croat. He along with some other men took over the German Consultant General’s office and it required the active negotiations of Mayor Bilandic, ano0ther Croatian to end the crisis.
So I attended Mass. This was the beginning of the English Mass, a new initiative of the church. I was glad to be at the English-speaking service. I understood I was missing out on some great music and probably a much larger group of attendees. Still, I had been to so many services in other languages that I opted out for simple. I am glad I did.
I had time to look at the beauty of the church.I had time to appreciate the Franciscan stain glass windows. Afterward I met with the priest. He had noticed my Tau and identified me as a fellow Franciscan before I ever introduced myself to him. He told me the church had been built by Germans but was always meant to be Franciscan, again, the evidence was the windows. The congregation than became part of Guardian Angle Orphanage. In the middle of the last century it then became a Croatian church and in the last transformation, a Franciscan Croatian church. The priest said this was the center for Croatian Franciscans and that there were 30 friars.
There are a number of Croatian Catholic churches in Chicago. At one time Chicago was referred to as “the second capital of Croatia.” I have been to many ethnic churches since the beginning of my sabbatical. However, this is the first church had direct ties to. I was glad to finally step inside this beautiful building. I was grateful for the warm welcome. If I had time I was visit Blessed Alojzije Stepinac Croatian Church again.