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After Fire, Shrine Saves Altar, Raises $50,000 for Restoration

By Sam Cholke | November 3, 2015 11:45am

The painted panels behind the altar in Shrine of Christ the King have survived the Oct. 7 fire and are currently being cleaned. [Courtesy of Shrine of Christ the King]

WOODLAWN — Shrine of Christ the King has raised $50,000 in less than month since a fire ravaged the church.

Rev. Matthew Talarico, a canon at the shrine at 6401 S. Woodlawn Ave., said the congregation has found great support among its neighbors as the church works on rebuilding after the Oct. 7 fire.

“This is not about a fire, this is about the community response, a response of solidarity,” Talarico said.

He said Rockefeller Chapel was able to accommodate holding services at the last minute on Monday with only six hours notice after a pipe burst at St. Thomas the Apostle, where Shrine of Christ the King has held Mass since the fire.

“That was really neat,” Talarico said of holding Mass in the cathedral-like church on the University of Chicago campus.

He said the priests are currently going through the remnants of the fire to determine what is salvageable.

The day of the fire, firefighters were able to rescue a 300-year-old statue from the sanctuary, but priests said they have been able to salvage more from the fire.

Talarico said the 25-foot-tall painted panels from the altar have also survived.

“It’s being cleaned right now and we’re hoping to put it up in a new worship space,” Talarico said.

He said he thought the shrine was close to finding a long-term home in Woodlawn, but didn’t want to specify where until arrangements had been finalized. He said he was hopeful the congregation would be able to move later this month and wanted to invite firefighters and others who have helped the church through the fire to a special service.

Talarico said the Archdiocese of Chicago was in charge of all assessments of the physical building of the shrine and working through the insurance claim.

A representative of the archdiocese was not immediately available to comment.

Shrine of Christ the King continues to need donations for the restoration of the building and is soliciting funds on its GoFundMe page.

Rev. Matthew Talarico said the priests have been able to save some of the pieces of the Shrine of Christ the King's altar after an Oct. 7 fire.

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