Final mass held at St. Victor August 6, 2020

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St. Victor Catholic Church is located at 553 Hirsch in Calumet City, Illinois. (Photo: George Grenchik)

Irregularities in process have some considering actions to reverse de-consecration

by George Grenchik

CALUMET CITY, Ill. (August 15, 2020) – On August 6 a mass of relegation was celebrated at St. Victor church at 553 Hirsch in Calumet City. That mass was to be the last celebrated at St. Victor, which began as a parish in 1925, the church building being dedicated in 1928.

Fr. William J Stenzel (known affectionately as Fr. Bill) stands at the spot where he would greet the faithful coming out of mass on Sundays. St. Victor was Stenzel’s first assignment as a priest, and he served there from 1975–1981. He is now retired from the Archdiocese but remains active in ministry. (Photo: George Grenchik)

St. Victor, St. Andrew, and Our Lady of Knock, all in Calumet City, were all extinguished (ended) on July 1, 2019, and reconstituted as a single new parish, since officially named Jesus, Shepherd of Souls. This reordering was part of an Archdiocesan-wide process called Renew My Church.

Although having the largest congregation and being the most active of the three separate parishes, St. Victor was scheduled to be closed as an active site for the new parish, this having been suggested by the decree of the Archbishop which created the new parish.

An appeal to the Archbishop and then to the Congregation for the Clergy at the Vatican (which have oversight over parishes) caused changes to the decree and seemed to keep St. Victor open as a site of the new parish.

After a mass of unity at the end of last November, all services, save a funeral and benediction, ended at St. Victor until, with short notice, a final mass was held last Thursday. This mass was in effect to relegate (de-consecrate) the church to profane (non-religious) use. It could be sold or rented to some individual or group.

A decree by the bishop was required by canon (church law) to do this, but the decree wasn’t issued until the day after the mass of relegation. Three days of visitation of the church were offered after the mass was said. No one save the ministers and musicians was allowed at that mass. Hundreds came to walk through their beloved church.

With some irregularities in the documents and actions taken at the time of closure, consideration of further actions is being contemplated by some to keep St. Victor open, perhaps as a sacred space known as a shrine, rather than having the church sit idle or be sold.