JEFFERSON PARK — Plans are moving forward to turn the long-vacant convent at Our Lady of Victory Church into a senior living facility, church officials said Tuesday.
The Archdiocese of Chicago is considering leasing the Our Lady of Victory convent to Point in Time, a nonprofit company, and allowing it to be converted into group housing for seniors, said the Rev. Robert Fedek, the pastor of the Jefferson Park church.
The former convent at Our Lady of Victory, which has been mostly vacant for a number of years, could be among the first church properties to be transformed as part of a pilot program designed to breathe new life into unused convents, officials said.
Point In Time's plans to turn the former convent at St. Cornelius Church, 5252 N. Long Ave., into an 11-bedroom communal living facility have already been approved by city officials.
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The plans for Our Lady of Victory's convent are identical to those for St. Cornelius' convent, said Tom Smith of Point In Time.
"This would return the convent to its original purpose of communal living," Smith said.
The renovated Our Lady of Victory convent would have 17 bedrooms with private baths, with common areas for dining, recreation, laundry as well as a chapel and outdoor patio, according to the plans shown to several dozen parishioners at a meeting Monday night, Smith said.
Meals, personal assistance, housekeeping and a car to share also would be provided to the residents, who must be 62 or older, Smith said.
Point In Time estimates that it would cost between $2.5 and $3 million to renovate the convent at Our Lady of Victory, Smith said. The proposal would need a special use permit from city officials, which typically requires the support of the alderman.
"People love their communities and their parishes, but there are few good options," Smith said, adding that the firm is still measuring the community's interest in the project before finalizing its plans.
Fedek called the planned renovations "beautiful and very inspiring" and said the rent the residents would pay to the parish — as well as no longer having to maintain an empty, aging building — "would be a welcome boost to our bottom line for many years."
The Our Lady of Victory convent was built at 5240 W. Agatite Ave. in 1927. It has been vacant since several priests from the Legionnaires of Christ religious order moved out last year.
"It would be wonderful if some of our OLV parishioners made the new convent community their home," Fedek said.
Our Lady of Victory 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.
City officials approved plans 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.
The schools at St. Cornelius, St. Pascal, Our Lady of Victory and St. Tarcissus are set to be consolidated by the Archdiocese of Chicago during the next year.
The consolidation is designed to "build a sustainable system that ensures a transformative Catholic education in this region of Chicago," Archbishop Blase Cupich said.
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