Happy New Year and welcome to 2017, a very remarkable milestone for Our Lady of Lourdes. This year our parish celebrates her Quasquicentennial, which is a fancy way of saying her 125th Anniversary. We plan to honor this jubilee throughout our various events this year, beginning with the Annual Dinner Dance on February 18, which will revolve around the fitting theme of “Grateful for Our Past, Hopeful for Our Future.” Beginning with her first Mass on Oct. 8, 1892, the Our Lady of Lourdes Parish has served the Ravenswood, Andersonville and Uptown neighborhoods of Chicago. Founded by Irish and German immigrants, the original church was a frame building located on the southwest corner of Ashland and Leland Avenues. It featured a bell tower and a rose window depicting the Blessed Mother. A decade later, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary founded a parish grade school with 340 inaugural pupils. Thousands of students received an excellent Catholic education at the school before it closed in 2004.
As the Our Lady of Lourdes congregation grew, the original church was demolished and a new one built to resemble the architectural styling of the Spanish Renaissance era. The new church building was dedicated on May 21, 1916. Thirteen years later, the church was famously moved across the street, rotated and expanded by a team of men and horses pulling the tenthousand-ton building at the rate of “a foot a minute.” Since those early days, Our Lady of Lourdes has created a replica of the grotto in Lourdes, France, where the Blessed Mother visited Saint Bernadette Soubirous multiple times in 1858. Originally a special place for our parishioners to engage in prayerful contemplation, our replica of the grotto in France has been designated for Twenty-Four-Hour Adoration of the Holy Eucharist since 1992. The continual Eucharistic Adoration draws Catholics of all ages and backgrounds from all over the Chicagoland area to stand before the real presence of Jesus Christ.
Because the neighborhoods surrounding Our Lady of Lourdes have always been a port of entry for immigrating populations, the ethnicities comprising our parish community have always been in flux. Today we are a proud, diverse parish of Latin American, European, Filipino and African descent who bring their distinct religious traditions and cultures to our spiritual community. And just as all people of good will are called upon to view each other as brothers and sisters, we believe our multicultural community to be our greatest asset as we seek unity and celebrate diversity
In keeping with our missionary spirit, Our Lady of Lourdes has maintained a weekly soup kitchen for more than thirty years, feeding those often forgotten at the peripheries of our society tens of thousands of meals.
We have so much to be proud of and thankful for that Our Lady of Lourdes plans to continue our Quasquicentennial Jubilee throughout the year at events like our Summer Celebration and Pan American Fest. This will offer school alumni and former parishioners many opportunities to return to help us all celebrate the unique heritage and history of Our Lady of Lourdes as well as share our hope for the future of our parish.