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Vacant St. Cornelius Convent May Become Senior Living Facility, Pastor Says

By Heather Cherone | January 28, 2015 7:00am
 The former convent at St. Cornelius now is mostly used for meetings and storage, Pastor Dan Fallon said.
The former convent at St. Cornelius now is mostly used for meetings and storage, Pastor Dan Fallon said.
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DNAinfo/Heather Cherone

JEFFERSON PARK — Plans are in the works to turn the long-vacant convent at St. Cornelius Church into a senior living facility, church officials said Tuesday.

The Archdiocese of Chicago is considering leasing the St. Cornelius convent to Point in Time, a nonprofit company, and allowing it to be converted into group housing for seniors, said Susan Burritt, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.

The former convent at St. Cornelius could be one of the first church properties — including unused rectories and other buildings — to be transformed as part of a pilot program, Burritt said.

The staff of St. Cornelius believes leasing the convent and transforming it into senior housing would be a "real plus for our parish," said the Rev. Dan Fallon, pastor of St. Cornelius, 5430 W. Foster Ave.

"Changing our convent into such a facility would be a source of revenue to our parish, and could bring new vitality to our campus and our community," Fallon wrote in a letter to St. Cornelius parishioners.

Heather Cherone says the project could end up being a sort of pilot program:

The convent now is primarily used for meetings and storage, Fallon said.

The renovated convent would have 11 bedrooms with private baths, with common areas for dining, recreation, laundry as well as a chapel and outdoor patio, Fallon said.

Meals, personal assistance, housekeeping and a car to share also would be provided, Fallon said.

"Their pictures of what our convent would look like interiorly, as well as landscaping, are very attractive," Fallon said.

Representatives of Point In Time met Monday with Fallon and members of the parish pastoral council, finance committee and school board to discuss the proposal and answer questions, Fallon said.

"The plans are moving forward," Fallon said, adding that a public meeting will be scheduled soon.

St. Cornelius is one of many Chicago churches grappling with what to do with former convents, left empty in some cases for decades after religious orders saw their numbers dwindle and moved to smaller locations.

The former convent at Our Lady of Victory Church, 5212 W. Agatite Ave., has been vacant since several priests from the Legionnaires of Christ religious order moved out last year.

A proposal is on the table to transform the former convent at St. Pascal Church, 6143 W. Irving Park Road, into a home for new mothers struggling to get on their feet. It has drawn fierce community opposition and is expected to be considered by city officials in March, said 38th Ward Ald. Tim Cullerton.

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