Ok, when one of your “Besties” is coming to town and you ask her a couple weeks in advance of her visit, “Peg, what would you like to see and do while you’re with me?” and she says, “Oh I’d love to see the churches!” you know I’m in heaven right? She’s my “crazy church lady kindred spirit” for a reason! So, I pull out the book that Sharon and Glenn gave me before we left and start marking the pages!
I should say that Eddie and I have seen quite a few of the churches in this book and we have really enjoyed our visits. But, when “CCL#2” (Crazy Church Lady #2) is in town, we are gonna SEE some churches!! You know it!
I did some research on the catholic churches in Chicago because literally, there is one on every corner! Or so it seems. All you need to do is pretty much look up to see the steeples and bell towers and you say, “oh look, there’s a parish over there.” So, here’s what I found:
The Chicago Archdiocese covers 1,114 square miles with a population of 2,228,000 Roman Catholics. They have 346 neighborhood parishes serving the faithful.
This compares to our Los Angeles Archdiocese:
The Los Angeles Archdiocese covers 8,762 square miles with a population of 4,349,267 Roman Catholics. There are 288 neighborhood parishes serving the faithful.
That is a huge difference! There are a lot of crazy catholics out here! And, for the time being, I’m happy to be one of them!
In the parishes that we have had an opportunity to visit, their bulletins often boast at least 5 priests (maybe we’ve been visiting the ones that are active and vibrant and full). This is truly a blessed diocese. And for the people too … If you don’t want to walk to St. ____, then go ahead and walk to St. ____. And if you don’t like the priest at St. ____, just walk over to St. ____! That’s how close their churches are. When they began settling here in Chicago and priests started getting assigned to this “Stinky Onion” village (*Note: “Stinky Onion” is the English translation from the Algonquian Peoples’ language, the original settlers, who named their village “shikaakwa” which literally meant “stinky onions by the river.” The first known reference to the site of the current city of Chicago as “Checagou” was by Robert de LaSalle around 1679 when he wrote in his journal of 1688, that the wild garlic, called “chicagoua”, grew abundantly in the area. There, history lesson for today!), they knew that because of the extreme winter weather, the churches needed to be close to their faithful. So, a church on every corner?? Almost!! I think I learned that if you lived here, you should only have to walk 1/2 mile to get to your neighborhood parish. They didn’t want their parishioners walking too far in the freezing cold weather. And their churches are stunning, really. I have never been to Europe, but I imagine that the churches I’ve visited here look much like the ones in Europe.
But first, it’s Sunday morning so our first stop is mass. And boy did we luck out! But wait, let me backtrack here a sec. Peggy and I have gone to Congress for many years and whenever Fr. John Cusick is one of the featured speakers, we always go to his session. He is a breath of fresh air, progressive, smart, has common sense, and absolutely loves being a priest. He’s funny and challenging and he reminds us a lot of our own amazing Padres. The next time he’s a speaker at Congress, be sure to attend his session because no matter what the subject matter is, the class will be great! I guarantee it!
Ok, now back to mass. We take a nice stroll to Old St. Patrick’s near our apartment and get there in time for 10:00 mass. After we take our seats, we notice the priest walking around, chatting with the people, passing out hugs, and as he gets closer to our pew … OMG! It’s Fr. John! Peggy and I immediately turn into “groupies” and start telling Eddie all about Fr. John and how fabulous he is and everything we can remember about him. What a great surprise!! We get through mass itching to say “hi” to him afterwards, but when we get outside, there’s a gazillion more groupies out there in line to talk to him. Holy Moley! Well, we amble around, show Peggy the architecture and wait and wait and wait … until finally … he’s free! “Fr. John! Fr. John! We love you! We go to your class every year at Congress! I’ve been going to see you for 25 years at least (Lani)! I’ve gone the last few years and I’m a true fan of yours (Peggy)! We love you!!” (I should mention that Eddie is hanging back watching this unfold and is probably a little mortified.) Can we get a picture with you?? Pleaseeeee???
Well, Fr. John is not only a fabulous priest but also a gentlemen … he gathers Peggy and me in for a picture and then orders someone else to take the picture so that Eddie can be in the picture too! Out of all the liturgies we have been to here in Chicago, this was the absolute best — a true gift with one of God’s beloved servants! Thank you Fr. John!
After mass, we have our first “must see” stop for Peggy (and you if you decide to come for a visit!). Where is that you ask? Oh, you must know by now, right?
Yep, I had to introduce her to my favorite Chicago friend … Sue! We made our way around the Field for a while and when it was our turn, we stood in line for entrance to the “Terracotta Warriors” exhibit. This is another one of those fabulous exhibits that you have to see more than once in order to absorb everything about it. I have learned so much about this exhibit that I might be able to give you a tour … however, I still prefer to grab my own docent every single time I go just to see what they have to say about the exhibit. Each docent knows something different about it and it’s fun to learn as much as you can through other people’s knowledge.
We had a great time just strolling around the museum, taking in the largest exhibits that we could in such a short time …
I love this picture … It totally looks like Peg is having a good old conversation with those ladies from Africa!
Here’s another “large” exhibit …
You can’t tell by this picture, but it was standing directly next to a Wooley Mammoth! This deer (from Ireland!) was as big as the mammoth! It is crazy to imagine a deer being that big!! See what you can learn every time you visit?
It was a great afternoon at the museum and now we’re headed out for some wonderful food in Chicago’s Greektown neighborhood. This is one of our favorites, so you’ve seen lots of pictures of this place! I think we made Peggy a believer!
Here are a few of our appetizers! Hummus, Mediterranean olives, fried cheese!! All absolutely delicious!
It’s been a fun day but we need to get to bed … we have about 345 more parishes to visit this week!
Talk to you tomorrow!