Yesterday a devastating fire destroyed much of my spiritual home, the Shrine of Christ the King. This loss is especially profound as the Shrine has been under renovation since 2004 and was in its 3rd and final stage of restoration.
The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away: as it hath pleased the Lord so is it done: blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21)
The Shrine Vows to Rebuild
Hours after the last flames had been put out, a firefighter walked down the blackened steps of Shrine of Christ the King Church on Wednesday and handed over a statue covered in gold vestments and topped with a crown.
The statue, known as the Divine Infant Jesus, was made in Spain in the 1700s. It was presented to the 92-year-old church in Woodlawn 10 years ago after the church was spared the wrecking ball and the parish began the long work of restoration.
Smudged but otherwise undamaged, the statue survived an extra-alarm fire overnight that was touched off by renovation work and severely damaged the roof and interior, according to fire officials. To the priests of the parish, it symbolized their intent to rebuild again.
"The statue is the spiritual centerpiece of our shrine and its community, so people really spiritually identify with it," said the Rev. Matthew Talarico.
"It's iconic to symbolize all the work and the mission that we do at the church," he said. "It's important that people see that this has been preserved from past years, and this is the first step on the journey forward and that Christ is still with us."
Inside the church, charred rubble covered the floor and water soaked the walls and pillars inside. Most of the roof was gone.
But Talarico remained positive, emphasizing that the parish will still have Masses and carry on other services.
"The message is that you need to have Good Friday before you can have Easter Sunday," Talarico said with a laugh.
"We're not starting all over again. This is just another chapter. Our community is here, and we will continue to move forward step by step together. Sometimes circumstances like this bring people even closer together because that common goal really unites us in Christ and with each other.
"We won't miss a beat," he said, noting that the church has escaped destruction before.
Source: Chicago Tribune