It’s hard to let go of traditions. Especially when it comes to institutions that shape our lives, losing the tangible presence of buildings that have played such important roles in our lives can hurt. There’s no doubt about that.
The reaction to news published last week that St. Nikola Serbian Orthodox Church in Brookfield had made an inquiry about purchasing the St. Barbara Church campus a few blocks to the north was painful to some.
Because the folks at St. Nikola Church already had found out about their parish leadership’s interest in St. Barbara — they started an online petition opposing it the week before the story was published – most of the concerns appear to have been on the part of parishioners at Holy Guardian Angels Parish, which counts St. Barbara Church as one of its two worship sites.
One person wrote The Landmark stating the article was “offensive” and also claimed the report was “unsubstantiated.” That led us to wonder whether that person had taken the time to read the article, because the article clearly pointed out that St. Nikola’s interest in St. Barbara was confirmed by both the pastor of Holy Guardian Angels and the president of the St. Nikola Church board of directors, both of whom were quoted.
The article prompted Holy Guardian Angels’ pastor, the Rev. Brian Kean, to address the article in a letter to his parishioners last week. His note essentially restated what the Landmark reported.
Perhaps there are some who didn’t like the fact that they had heard about St. Nikola’s interest in St. Barbara from the Landmark and not from their own parish leaders. Well, that’s our job, and if parishioners feel there needs to be better intra-parish communication, they should address that internally.
All of that said, we believe Holy Guardian Angels parishioners ought to be realistic about the parish’s ability to support two church campuses. While the parish has not sought to sell St. Barbara Church or the parish center across the street, it’s the Archdiocese of Chicago that will end up making that call.
The cost to maintain all of those buildings versus the amount of money the archdiocese might realize from the sale of the St. Barbara campus will likely be too much for the archdiocese to ignore.
Even if St. Nikola Church ends up shelving any plan to try and buy the St. Barbara properties, that campus, which takes up a sizeable chunk on both sides of Prairie Avenue from Windemere to Ogden, will be attractive to developers.
We can’t predict the future, but this won’t be the last time the parish gets an offer to sell its Brookfield holdings, and the village will be happy to get those properties back on the tax rolls if it comes to that.
It’s been a tough couple of years between the merger of two proud Catholic parishes and the uncertainty of their ability to fund maintenance of the old, unused school and convent buildings.
Change is hard, but change is going to come. And the Landmark is going to report on it.