By: Raymond Guarini
The hardest part about documenting Italian National churches in America is that so many have already closed and so many are in the process of being closed. There is also the fact that it’s hard to coordinate travels with the times that the churches are opened. Taking that into account, also add that there is no single place where one can find a list every Italian National Parish, yet. Italian Enclaves is proud to announce that as we transform into a nonprofit, one of our first orders of business will be to do just that; an online list and archive of photos pertaining to each Italian National Parish in America.
Which Churches Are Closing In Chicago?
In Chicago, the same eventuality of closure that has fallen upon many other Italian National Parishes in the United States is about to happen to Santa Lucia Church. Located at 3022 S Wells St, Chicago, IL 60616, Santa Lucia is one of the cornerstones of the Italian American community in the Armour Square neighborhood, a formerly dense Italian Enclave. The closure is not being limited to the Church, but the Santa Lucia Catholic School as well.
Our sources also inform us that the original church (the parishes were merged to Santa Lucia), Santa Maria Incoronata, which is now referred to as the St. Therese Chinese Church, is also due to be closed in the near-term. The church was opened in 1904.
These churches function not only as places of worship but also as cultural gems for the Italian Americans still living in these neighborhoods as well as those who have moved out but still return to take part in religious traditions such as processions for their Saints’ feast days. Below is a clip from a procession this past summer at the old Incoronata Church.
Similar Circumstances in New York
Not too long ago, we posted about the magnificent Feast of Saint Rocco, which is dutifully fulfilled each year by the Saint Rocco Society of Potenza and its president, Stephen LaRocca. The procession of Saint Rocco was always first carried-out from Saint Joachim and Anne which was on Catherine Street. When that church was tragically closed in the middle of the 20th century, the parishioners then matriculated to Saint Joseph (San Giuseppe) Church (5 Monroe St. New York, NY), which was the new center of the Italian immigrant community in the “Two-Bridges” or “Five Points” neighborhood now justifiably called Chinatown. Similar to what’s happening in Chicago, Saint Joseph was closed just a few years back, and the parishioners were forced to worship elsewhere. The statues in the San Giuseppe Church were translated to Most Precious Blood Church on Baxter Street and the processions now occur from Most Precious Blood, yet Mr. LaRocca tries to maintain as much authenticity in the procession as possible by processing the Saint Rocco statue passed Saint Joseph Church in a nod of respect and love for Saint Rocco and the former house of worship.
Countless Italian National Churches Closed
Countless Italian churches have closed in America over the last eighty years. Just recently, Santa Rosalia in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn was also shuttered and marked for demolition. The same sadly happened to Holy Rosary Church in Staten Island (207 Sand Lane Staten Island, NY) which has just recently been demolished.
No new Italian National Parishes will ever open due to the patterns of immigration today vs. those of the 19th and 20th centuries. Therefore, it is essential to keep these churches opened and the best way to help our friends in Chicago is to sign their petition (Link Below) in an effort to appeal to the powers that be, the Dioceses in charge of these decisions.
PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION AND PASS IT ON
Special Thanks to Louie Phillips Jr. for sharing information and photos with us.