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Church Near Kennedy Expressway Seeks Funds To ‘Save The Dome’

Save The Dome

St. Mary of the Angels Roman Catholic Church is seeking funds to save its historic dome. (Credit: Save The Dome)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A giant banner hanging from the columns of a church just west of the Kennedy Expressway, near Armitage Avenue, proclaims “Save the Dome.”

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports, Polish immigrants poured their hearts, souls and $400,000 into building St. Mary of the Angels Roman Catholic Church, at 1850 N. Hermitage Av. in the Bucktown neighborhood, a century ago. Now, business manager Gary Bilinovich said that while Christ is eternal, even the best-built church needs attention.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts reports

Bilinovich said parishioners resorted to bake sales and rummage sales to find the money to save the church and repair the dome in 1988, when a chunk of plaster hit a worshipper in the head and Joseph Cardinal Bernardin ordered it closed and torn down.

The Chicago Archdiocese eventually relented, but Mother Nature did not.

“Unfortunately, some of the repairs didn’t hold, didn’t take, and so now we’re redoing the whole thing again,” Bilinovich said.

Equally unexpected is the projected price of the repairs, which has increased from the $1.5 million that the church has on hand to an estimated $3.2 million.

Intricate scaffolding rises from the ground to the top of the dome, and the work continues. Bilinovich said parish officials hope to see exterior work completed in four to six weeks, with interior repairs to follow.

While the scaffolding is difficult to miss for those in their cars on the Kennedy or riding the Metra Union Pacific Northwest Line, the “Save the Dome” sign stands out.

Not all of the donors who have spotted the sign are local. Bilinovich said one man recently called him from Minnesota, saying he had some fund-raising ideas, which Bilinovich said he gladly accepted.

“Anyone can help us,” he said.

Donations can be made in person or mailed to the church, and it is accepting donations on the parish Web site, as well as at www.parishpay.com. All donations are tax-deductible.