Category Archives: Catholic in Chicago

Catholic in Chicago: Christmas




At first, I was thinking about putting this post up under Date Night, but actually, it is much more fitting for Catholic in Chicago.  This evening was the kick-off for our continuing visitation of the Catholic Churches in Chicago.  Of all the Christmas chorales we have attended over the years, Deck the Hall at Old St. Patrick’s Church tonight, was by far the best.  Several standing ovations for performances throughout the night were well deserved.   It was a treat to hear such joyous voices ringing in the spirit of Christmas.  Tickets are required and the remaining performances Friday and Saturday are sold out.  Put it on your calendar for next year.  It may just become a holiday tradition.

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Catholic in Chicago: Assumption Church




Sunday after Easter we visited Assumption Church located across from Gene and Georgetti’s in downtown Chicago.  The church was built in 1886 originally for Italian immigrants that had settled in the area.  Have you ever seen such a collection of Easter Lilies outside of a nursery?  They were lovely.  The church is smaller than most of the churches we have visited over the past months and has a very intimate feel to it.  Interestingly enough, I found a compelling reason to return in their bulletin:

“The Mass Unmasked On Sunday April 21 we will celebrate the 10:30 Mass a little differently. The words and gestures of the priest will be accompanied by a narration, explaining the history and meaning behind the various parts of our 2000 year old ritual, so that we can better appreciate the gift that Jesus left us.”

I may just have to bring my entire crew back here with me.  I love educational opportunities.  Afterwards, we met our daughter and friend for breakfast at Ina’s in the West End.  These outings just keep getting better every Sunday.

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Catholic in Chicago: St. Michael’s


St. Michael’s located in Old Town is one of the oldest Catholic churches in the city of Chicago.  Today we attended the Palm Sunday service and for the blessing of the palm’s the entire congregation gathered in the back of the church.  It was actually a very intimate experience.  The 5 story alter at this church is breathtaking and my iPhone picture can’t capture all the intricate carvings.  But I have to ask, where the heck are the kneelers?  Hopefully, they are being re-furbished and will be back in the church soon.  Blessings to all for this Holy Week.

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Catholic in Chicago: St. Alphonsus


In between basketball games this weekend, we managed to attend mass at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church Sunday morning.  This church has been cited as one of the eleven must see churches in Chicago.  The Gothic structure was built in 1897 for the German speaking Catholics in Chicago’s Lake View neighborhood.  The marble alter is humongous, the ceiling the most beautiful shade of blue and the choir is outstanding.  There was no time for breakfast today as it was an action packed sports day.  Dinner tonight?  Of course, corn beef and cabbage.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Catholic in Chicago: Holy Innocents











Today, we visited our seventh Polish Catholic Cathedral in Chicago:   Holy Innocents.  The church was built in 1912 and designed by Worthmann and Steinbach.  Their style is very evident as each church is similar in the basic architecture, yet different in decoration.  Holy Innocents was redesigned after a 1962 fire and most recently refurbished in 2005.  We switched things up today with breakfast first at The Breakfast Club & Grill.  The food was excellent, the decor fresh and whimsical, but our father and son table companions were most delightful.  Next, we headed over to church where Father Cyscon impressed us both by taking today’s lessons and making them relevant.  The above model  of the church captures the full scale of Holy Innocents better than any of my pictures.

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Catholic in Chicago: Holy Trinity














Catholicism is alive and well at Holy Trinity Church.  The church was built in 1905 to relieve overcrowding at St. Stanislaus Kostka just down the street.  Though it appears to be somewhat of a destination church, hundreds of devoted parishioners were in attendance.  In fact, it was the largest crowd we have witnessed so far attending a Sunday mass.  My grandparents would have understood every word of the Homily today and sadly, because the mass was said in Polish, the only word I recognized was “Amen”.  It did allow me to contemplate how my grandparents felt as immigrants in our country.  Both learned to speak fluent English, though they preferred to converse in Polish.  Hearing the language spoken again this morning brought back many fond memories of them.  The church itself has been totally refurbished.  It is elaborately decorated and the mural paintings overhead are magnificent.  I am hoping to go back someday for a tour of the catacombs beneath the church.  Afterwards, we enjoyed a fabulous breakfast at The Bongo Room in Wicker Park.  Upon the advice of our hostess, I order the BLT Eggs Benedict.  Best in the City, hands down.

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Catholic in Chicago: St. Stanislaus Kostka













Today, continuing our journey to visit the Polish Catholic Cathedrals, we attended the Polish mother church of Chicago, St. Stanislaus Kostka.  Built between 1871 and 1881, the church has seen better days.  We were quite surprised upon entering the church to find it devoid of pews and set up with metal folding chairs.  The massive pipe organ was silent.  We also missed the ritual of the priest entering and leaving via the main isle.  The sermon surrounding the Pope’s decision to abdicate, however, was thought provoking.  Afterwards, we tried breakfast at the Milk & Honey Cafe in Wicker Park.  Loved the Orange Brioche French Toast and Huevos Rancheros they were excellent.

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Ash Wednesday



I spent Ash Wednesday at Old St. Pat’s in the city.  Father Hurley’s mass was relevant and punctual.  Afterwards, as I always do anytime I am downtown, I drove past my first apartment in Chicago.








40 East Oak.  I can still remember running out the door, saying “hi” to Jim my doorman and walking down Michigan Ave. to work.  I moved to Chicago in the 1980’s after living in Indianapolis.  I was drawn to this building because of the vintage details which were much like my first apartment in Indianapolis below.









Both apartments had hot water radiators that banged through the night, wonderful old drafty windows, creaky hardwood floors and plaster walls tough as nails. Not much different from the home I live in today.  Some things never change.

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Catholic in Chicago: St. Hedwig











Toast Chicago

This morning we attended mass at St. Hedwig in the Bucktown neighborhood.  We thoroughly enjoyed the service with Father Stan.  He approached us after mass and asked where we were from.  It was obvious that he personally knew the members of his congregation.   I also agreed with his message; that whatever you do in this life strive to do your best.  The church was built in 1901 in the Polish Cathedral style and resembles both St. Hyacinth and St. Mary of the Angels as many of the same artisans were involved in the construction and ornamentation of these churches.  My iPhone pictures do not do the church justice.  It is actually stunning.  Sunday was another bone chilling rainy day, but our daughter managed to meet us afterwards for a delicious breakfast at Toast on Damen to warm up.  Order the 4 berry pancakes they are fantastic.

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Catholic in Chicago: St. Hyacinth










Despite the winter weather warning today of freezing rain and icy roads, we ventured into the city this morning to attend mass at St. Hyacinth Basilica located in the Avondale neighborhood.  Upon entering the church, the dome overhead with the painting of over hundreds of  saints, clergy and laity, commands your gaze upward throughout the service.  This Polish Catholic church is also a spin off from St. Stanislaus Kostka.  Construction began in 1917 and finished in 1921.  It is very hard to imagine and visualize all of these enormous Catholic churches within blocks of each other filled to the rafters every Sunday.  We were again in awe of all the architectural details of the the structure itself and of the beautiful paintings and figurines.  The bronze doors at the entrance of the church are fantastic.  A pleasant surprise was the lively folk blue grass guitar music that accompanied the mass which was not at all what we expected.  We also felt that the priest delivered a well intended and very inclusive homily of helping others in need.  We appreciated the message.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a delightful brunch at Jam, a vibrant young restaurant open for breakfast and lunch located in Logan Square.  You would have never guessed it was such a gray day.  As for the ice storm, we are still waiting.

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Catholic in Chicago: St. Mary of the Angels










Since the Catholic Church implemented their new media campaign, Catholics Come Home, I’ve decided to join them in that journey.  My husband has reluctantly agreed to participate in my Sunday visitations to the Polish Catholic Cathedrals and Churches throughout Chicago.  He is viewing this as a sociocultural and architectural adventure over a religious quest.  I am a wandering Catholic.  In my twenties living in downtown Chicago, I went to St. Peter’s on Ash Wednesday because it was right next door to my office.  During Lent I loved Old St. Pat’s Lenten speaker series and to this day still remember Father Andrew Greeley’s Lenten comparison about what Madonna (the singer) and Jesus had in common.  One of my first “dates” with my husband was where I finally convinced him to attend Mass at Holy Name and lo and behold, it happened to be the same day that Cardinal Bernardin and all the bishops were in attendance.  Our Pre-Cana sessions were held at St. Clements and we were finally married in my home church at Sacred Heart.    In the summers, I attended St. Joseph’s in Traverse City on the Old Mission Peninsula where Father Fred was the driving force.  And for now, after living in Chicagoland for the past 30 years and driving past all of these historical and monumental places of worship, I am just curious.  Being both Polish and Catholic, I just feel it is something I need to do at this point in time.

So, today we attended St. Mary of the Angels in Bucktown one of the seven Polish Catholic churches that were spawned from St. Stanislaus Kostka.  This church is staffed by the priests of the Opus Dei who welcomed us into their stunningly beautiful church still decorated for Christmas.  The service itself was lovely with the magnificent pipe organ filling the church with holiday hymns.  We chose the English service though mass is said in both Polish and Spanish as well.  Afterwards, we met our eldest daughter for brunch at Jane’s two blocks from the church which was an added bonus to our visit.  A perfect Sunday.

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Midnight Mass St. John Cantius






Last year we attended the midnight mass at St. John Cantius in Chicago.  It was one of the most beautiful spiritual services that I have ever attended in my Catholic life.  I will never forget the entire parish lighting candles and singing Silent Night at the end of the mass and the sense of peace that was felt as we left the church and headed home into the cold of the night.

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