Chicago’s collapsing Mexican Catholicism

Epiphany in Chicago’s South Lawndale neighborhood

Among the parishes to be extinguished and merged together effective July 1, 2021 in the Archdiocese of Chicago’s downsizing campaign, branded “Renew My Church” (RMC), are two parishes in Chicago’s Mexican South Lawndale neighborhood.

On March 11, the archdiocese announced that Good Shepherd, founded in 1907 for Polish immigrants, and Epiphany, founded in 1901 for Irish and German immigrants, will be extinguished as separate parishes and merged into one, with one pastor, sacramental records kept at Epiphany (which keeps its grade school, for now), a new name eventually, and masses at both churches (for now). The extreme left-wing local news blog “Block Club Chicago” posted on the merger. The archdiocese’s decision cites Epiphany’s $704,973 in debt and 38 percent drop in mass attendance from 1999 to 2019. Plus, the two parishes are only a half mile apart. 

Chicago’s South Lawndale neighborhood is located on the Southwest Side of the city. Once teeming with Czechs and Poles, its ethnic composition changed to Mexican starting in the 1960s. In 1964, the 26th Street Chamber of Commerce pushed to rebrand the neighborhood as “Little Village” in homage to its European “Old World” heritage. Today it’s nearly all Mexican, is referred to as “La Villita.”

The Chicago Archdiocese’s last major round of parish closures occurred in the late 80s when homosexual Joseph Cardinal Bernardin merged or closed about 40 parishes to close a budget gap. South Lawndale’s once-Bohemian St Ludmilla and once-Polish St Casimir were among the victims. But overall, the majority of Bernardin’s closures occurred in neighborhoods that weren’t Catholic anymore.

But that’s different with Cupich’s multi-year plan to shrink the number of parishes by 30 percent. While Cupich and the archdiocese market the campaign on a tripod of a priest shortage, changing demographics, and the cost of repairing and maintaining old churches, ultimately it’s about the mass apostasy of Catholics. That includes Mexican Catholics. They don’t “go to church.” They don’t believe.

It’s not just Mexican Catholics – Hispanics across the Western Hemisphere are catching up to their European-descended brethren in their falling away and abandonment of the one, true faith. Pew’s Religious Landscape Study on Latinos in the US shows 77 percent identify as Christian, with only 48 percent identifying as Catholic. Nearly a quarter of US Latinos – I’m using Latinos and Hispanics interchangeably – identify as Protestant.

That’s evident in Chicago’s Mexican neighborhoods, where Pentecostal ecclesial communities occupy both storefronts and former European Protestant ecclesial community buildings – even some former Catholic churches.

Half of all Hispanics born in the US are bastard children, born out of wedlock, growing up in fatherless homes, falling prey to all the culture of death consequences linked to that. Several Latino Chicago Alderman openly admit they’re Socialists.

Whenever the next round of parish closures occur, and they may be a slow-drip instead of the current tidal wave, count on even more Mexican parishes to face the guillotine.

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