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.

No parishes closing in Orland Park, Tinley Park

I’m surprised.

I thought, with the priest shortage, surely there would be a merger or two. Instead, the archdiocese announced in a news release on May 11 on this Renew My Church grouping that, “All seven parishes and schools, and Cardinal Bernardin School, will remain in their current structure.”

There’s nothing on the RenewMyChurch.com website about it (yet?) so we don’t know the demographic or parish details. Obviously the parishes are hitting all the strict financial and attendance markers the archdiocese sets.

Bulleted in the news release:

Part of the uniqueness of this Orland Tinley grouping is that the parishes are well situated, in that they cover a large geographic area. 

Many, I’m guessing most, of the Catholic residents of Orland and Tinley are descended from Chicago’s South and Southwest Sides. The Baby Boomers grew up in suburbs like Oak Lawn and Burbank or South Holland, or in the city in neighborhoods like Ashburn and Clearing and Scottsdale, attending parishes like St Bede the Venerable or St Thomas More – parishes that archdiocese announced its merging just one day earlier on May 10.

Those Boomers’ parents, the Greatest Generation, grew up in city neighborhoods like Marquette Park, Englewood, Gresham, Brighton Park, etc which either long ago ceased to be Catholic or flipped to Mexican and are seeing mergers and closures as that Catholic ethnic group now abandons the one, true Faith.

What I’m curious about is, how long are these Orland and Tinley parishes going to last as-is? They’re the quintessential “Church of Nice” parishes whose flocks don’t have any meaningful Catholic identity, don’t believe or practice what the Church teaches about marriage, sex, charity, etc. I have family in these parishes: Divorced Baby Boomers, some of whom have remarried without an annulment, whose Millennial children attended these parishes’ Catholic schools but who now do not practice the faith, who cohabitate in heterosexual and homosexual relationships, who embrace New Age spiritualism, and live in a world where they (not God) are the center of everything. Sure, if you ask them, “What’s your religion?” they’ll answer, “Catholic.” Even I did that when I was a twentysomething who never attended Mass and whose social life revolved around gay bars and hookup sites. They are Catholic in name only (CINO).

If we define the Baby Boom as running from 1946 to 1964, then the youngest of the Baby Boomer Catholics attending St Michael in Orland Park or St Julie Billiart in Tinley Park are in the late 50s, nearly 60-years-old. Behind them are Generation X, my generation, which has largely abandoned the faith.

So this grouping has maybe another 10-15 years to coast on fumes until the Boomers die off, retire to Arizone or Florida, or get wheeled off to assisted living, memory care facilities, and nursing homes.

With no sign that the archbishop claimant or the Firm have any commitment to saving souls and catechizing three generations, it’s really only a question of time before they decide to merge and close these parishes, and cash-in by selling off their (ugly!) church buildings and sprawling campuses to housing and retail developers.

St Julie Billiart in Tinley Park. Photo from BusinessYab.com

St Constance parishioners fight parish merger

Block Club Chicago, a website that claims to be a news outlet covering Chicago neighborhood news, reports parishioners of St Constance in Jefferson Park are protesting Cupich’s plans to extinguish their parish and merge it with St Robert Bellarmine on July 1, 2021.

I consider St Constance one of the ugliest churches I’ve ever seen.

Block Club Chicago’s sub-head reads, “Parishioners at St. Constance Parish and School say they worry merging with a nearby church will undermine some of their long-held traditions.”

But the story never goes into what those traditions are.

The story cites only two parishioners as sources, and one of them as anonymous.

It makes only passing references to its Polish congregation.

What’s missing, and what would’ve been interesting to explore further in the story, is the slow bleed of Poles from Chicago’s once safe and stable Northwest Side. And reporter Ariel Parrella-Aureli needed only visit the Chicago Archdiocese’s “RenewMyChurch.com” (.com because it’s a business?) website to get some interesting demographic insights Cupich shares with us. You can view the full decision here: https://www.renewmychurch.org/documents/1607309/1607597/RMC+2021+RMC-3+Decree+of+Extinctive+Union+-+St.+Constance+and+SRB.pdf/

Excerpts:

These two parishes have been serving an area of the City in which the population is changing from large numbers of Polish-speaking faithful to a growing population of Spanish-speaking faithful

Many of the faithful attending St. Constance Parish live outside the neighborhood

The trends indicating an accelerating decrease in Polish-speaking faithful as they move from the area to suburban communities.

The two parishes now serve an area with a decreasing Polish-speaking population

Couple that with a Polish anti-violence protest march in Portage Park in April – that Block Club Chicago reported on here – and we see even more evidence that there’s a major demographic change underway on the Northwest Side with major implications for the safety of Chicagoans and the city’s property tax base:

Jakub “Kuba” Marchewka, 28, was fatally shot in a Northwest Side parking lot on Easter Sunday after bumping another car with his car door, police and his family said.

Parishes merging in Wicker Park, Logan Square, Ashburn

The Archdiocese of Chicago announced several parishes will be extinguished and merged together in what it’s calling “Wicker Square” (Wicker Park + Logan Square) and “Greater Ashburn” (Asburn, Scottsdale).

The decisions were announced yesterday, May 10. News release at: https://www.archchicago.org/en/news-release/-/article/2021/05/11/archdiocese-of-chicago-provides-updates-on-two-renew-my-church-groupin-1

The good news is, no churches are closing outright.

Opus Dei-operated St Mary of the Angels and its school remain as-is. This glorious church was almost closed and bulldozed under Satanist homosexual molester Joseph Cardinal Bernardin.

St Mary of the Angels

What I’m unsure about:

St. Thomas More will become a canonical mission, connected to the newly formed parish of St. Bede and St. Denis.

St. Thomas More, at 81st and California, has an Extraordinary Form mass every Sunday at noon. Its Associate Pastor, Fr Scott Haynes, is a former member of the Canons Regular of St John Cantius.

So I’m speculating that “canonical mission” is Cupich’s way of accommodating the “Latin Mass (I dislike that name, it’s inaccurate) Community” at St Thomas.

Still, a stunning turn of events for the Southwest Side grouping – St Thomas More, St Bede, and St Denis are all postwar parishes that were once bursting at the seams, educating thousands of Baby Boomers, in once new, once safe neighborhoods.

St Thomas More
St Denis