WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church is scheduled to either close or merge with another parish, and longtime parishioners are devastated.
The church, 9540 S. Harvard Ave., was built in 1959. According to the Archdiocese of Chicago, the church is slated to be combined with St. Margaret of Scotland parish, 9837 S. Throop St., or close completely.
Braxton Holmes, a music producer, graduated from St. Thaddeus in 1984. He said he saw the writing on the wall when the school was closed back in 2004.
"I think the school was the anchor for the church. Once they sold the school, it was inevitable that the turnout for the church was going to drop," Holmes said. "St. Thaddeus Church and school were built and supported by a wonderful community of black people and developed many good citizens in this city, and both will be missed tremendously."
Stephen Taylor was the principal of the school when it closed. He said that St. Thaddeus' location and the dwindling numbers of Americans who identify as being Catholic play a part in the potential closing of the church.
"This is happening because we were a South Side church," Taylor said. "Also, the Catholic church doesn't do a good job of reaching out to people from different backgrounds like other religions do."
Some parishioners said the church has been a longtime staple for black Catholics on the South Side and signed a petition asking for the archdiocese not to close it.
Bill Bright, director of outreach for St. John of the Cross Parish in suburban Western Springs, has had an "Operation Hospitality" sharing-parish relationship with St. Thaddeus since 1966. Bright said no matter what happens, he'd like to continue a relationship with St. Thaddeus' remaining parishioners.
"In many ways we've supported them financially. We count many of the parishioners as friends," Bright said. "It's been a long time coming for a lot of churches in the city. Combining churches is inevitable in order to serve the people you have."
An archdiocese spokesman sent an emailed statement to DNAinfo:
"Any decision regarding St. Thaddeus and St. Margaret of Scotland Parishes will be the result of numerous conversations that took place prior to the start of the “Renew My Church” initiative and will be announced first to the affected parishioners.
"The Archdiocese of Chicago is committed to ensuring that Catholics in every neighborhood have access to vibrant, well-staffed parishes."
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