Fire-Damaged Church Will Be Saved, But There’s a Long Way to Go

Destruction at the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (via the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest Facebook page)

Destruction at the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (via the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest Facebook page)

Roman Catholics in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood have something to thank God for today — Their beloved Shrine of Christ the King has a future.

The church complex was ravaged by fire in October of 2015, doing an estimated three million dollars in damage.  The destruction was so severe that it was believed the entire building would have to be torn down because what remains is unsafe.

Now, all that has turned around.  At the time of the fire, the building was being rented from the Archdiocese of Chicago by the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.  In an announcement made on Sunday, the Archdiocese stated that it has decided to give the building to the Institute, and it will take charge of the repairs.  You can read the full press release below.

So far, the I.C.K.S.P. has raised a million dollars to stabilize the building, begin masonry repairs, build a new roof, and put in new windows.  According to the Chicago Tribune, Preservation Chicago has raised about $650,000 for the project.  The religious the group has also launched a Kickstarter campaign that’s brought in 14% of the half-million dollars its seeking through that avenue.

The Shrine of Christ the King holds a special place in the hearts of a number of Chicagoland Catholics.  It is one of the few churches in the area that celebrates the old-school Latin mass, which has seen a resurgence in popularity along with the Church’s global surge in numbers. (In 2014, there were 1.229 billion Roman Catholics worldwide, up 11% over the previous ten years.  The increase was 8% in the Untied States over the same period.)




Archdiocese Deeds Building and Property to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest

CHICAGO, IL (February 28, 2016) – The Archdiocese of Chicago today announced that it has deeded the Shrine of Christ the King in Woodlawn and the land on which it stands to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. The members of the apostolic institute have confirmed that they have received sufficient funds for the immediate stabilization of the historic Shrine building, ravaged by fire in October, 2015, and determined to be in hazardous condition. The Institute has committed itself to promptly remedying the dangerous condition created by the fire and then following through with the full restoration of the building.

“We express our deep gratitude to all the individuals and organizations whose most generous and timely donations helped bring us to this moment. We are mindful of the dangerous condition of the Shrine and will begin stabilization immediately with funds already collected,” said Reverend Canon Matthew L. Talarico, Provincial Superior for the Institute in the United States. “We are grateful to the Archdiocese for its partnership throughout our ministry in Woodlawn, especially during this difficult time. Since the day of the fire the collaboration with the Archdiocese has been remarkable: frequent communication, hard work and prayer.”

In thanksgiving for this agreement and in celebration of God’s blessings, the Institute has invited the public to a festive Mass on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph, at 10:00am in the Shrine’s current Mass location, the gymnasium of First Presbyterian church (6400 S. Kimbark Ave.). Afterwards, all are welcome for a St. Joseph Table luncheon reception with refreshments at 12:00 noon in the church hall of the same building. For more information on this event, contact: Rev. Canon Matthew Talarico at 773-363-7409, ext. 4, or at

The Archdiocese of Chicago is supportive of the Institute’s efforts to maintain its presence in the Woodlawn community and continue its ministry there. The Archdiocese wishes the Institute every success.


Location: 6401 South Woodlawn Avenue, Woodlawn

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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