CHICAG0 — The last mass for the Chicago Catholic church Our Lady of Victory in Jefferson Park was held Sunday.
After more than 115 years in operation, parishioners said goodbye to a holy Chicago staple.
“A lot of people grew up here. Lots of fun, stories and memories,” said parishioner Michael Handrigan.
For the Handrigan family, their roots at Our Lady of Victory run deep.
“Just sad to see it go,” Handrigan said
Handrigan’s father was a deacon at Our Lady of Victory. Over the years, the family has celebrated baptisms, communions and weddings.
In September, the Handrigans gathered for their mother’s funeral. Michael Handrigan said the last mass at Our Lady of Victory is a somber occasion.
“It is sad to see an icon of the neighborhood disappear,” he said.
“I don’t know where I’m going to go to church. I’m so sad,” parishioner Margaret Handrigan added.
The Jefferson Park parish dates back to 1906.
Last year, The Archdiocese of Chicago announced plans to close Our Lady of Victory merging the parish with others as part of the Renew My Church restructuring plan. The community jumped into action organizing a campaign, even appealing to the Vatican to try to save the century-old church with no luck.
While the closing is hard for many to accept, it is unclear what will happen next for the historic building.
“It’s a beautiful space,” Michael Handrigan said. “A lot of history.”
Lila Jahnke worked at the church and said seeing its ending felt like a second funeral.
“We went through that with the school and now with the church,” Jahnke said. “We were a family here.”
Moving forward, longtime parishioners say they will carry the spirit of the church family in their memories.
“It’s something that will always be remembered,” said Our Lady of Victory Religious Education Director Mary Beth Frystak. “But it’s very hard to accept.”