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St. Anthony’s is alive and well!

The Chicago Catholic has been reporting a lot lately that the Chicago Archdiocese is going through many changes, and we know that it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future due to the ever-changing demographics of Chicago and its suburbs. Parishes are being closed or consolidated a couple of times a year, sparking valiant rescue efforts by the affected parishioners.

Roseland’s St. Anthony of Padua Parish has not been affected or mentioned in these announcements. Many Roselandites have wondered whether our St. Anthony’s has closed. These are usually former residents who haven’t been back to Roseland in 40 or 50 years or have moved out of state. They’ve made the assumption based on the announcement that St. Anthony Parish in Bridgeport had been closed and consolidated.

But have no fear. St. Anthony’s in Roseland is alive and well. Thanks to its parishioner count and location along with the fact that’s it’s already home to all of Roseland’s former Catholic parishes except Sts. Peter and Paul and St. John De La Salle, it remains a vital if not thriving parish.

Fr. Mark has been approved as pastor for another three years and St. Anthony’s has been renamed a “territorial parish” rather than a national parish as it was when the parish had a majority Italian national ethnic base. There was a mention that sometime in the future, dependent on current dictates, the name of the church might undergo a change. However, that is just a consideration as the archdiocese has been placed in a position where it must consider its future in relation to Chicago’s demographic changes.

St. Anthony’s beauty remains as it was in the 60’s when the church building was dedicated. Those who return for a visit are amazed that such a gem from their childhood is still there for them to enjoy. Visiting St. Anthony’s brings to mind the many celebrations that occurred during their grammar school years before heading off to create their own world in high school. Many former parishioners surprise themselves when they begin recounting stories and the memories come flooding back with the names of their teachers and fellow students tumbling out in oral histories of their lives.

We are all like that when it comes to recollecting memories. We just need a simple trigger to bring memories from over fifty years ago that we had thought about in many years. My book “Petals from Roseland: Fond Memories of Chicago’s Roseland, Pullman, and Kensington Neighborhoods” has also served as a trigger for readers. For the many years I’ve been writing this column, readers have enjoyed their visitors to their pasts. With my book, people who have not read my column Petals from Roseland, now have the opportunity for the same experience.

Everyone is always welcome to come down to St. Anthony’s for a visit at the 8:30 a.m. mass where I do the second reading in Italian and that mass is generally followed by coffee downstairs; the 10:30 Holy Rosary parishioners mass, or the 12:30 Spanish mass. There is parking available in the safety of the parking lot and, as always, along Indiana Avenue.

The interior of the church has been maintained throughout the years with little revision to accommodate the wide range of celebratory services Fr. Mark now over sees with the help of the Parish Council and the Hispanic Parish Council. It is always a pleasure to see the inside stand alone framed stained-glass window of St. Dominic that was taken from Holy Rosary Irish and brought to St. Anthony’s in a remarkable procession.

The statue of the Madonna de Monte Berico is still in its side altar and now rests alongside the Madonna de Guadalupe. The other side altars are dedicated just as when the church was originally dedicated: St. Anthony, St. Alexander, The Blessed Mother, The Sacred Heart, and St. Anthony each has their special place with additional statues of saints such as San Luigi Gonzaga having been added.

The entirety of the church is marble with the columns of the twelve apostles surrounding the main original altar. The former pulpit was dismantled back in the 1980’s and used to construct the Ecumenical Council altar facing the parishioners. The four evangelists of the bible from the pulpit form the corners of that altar.

Let’s face it, we’re all getting older and the days of our youth are getting closer to us in the sense that their memories are more endearing. In our retirement we have the time to look back on our lives and recall the good times and the good friends of our youth. I know that is one of the reasons I’ve been to Italy three times—to get closer to my Italian roots which evolved as a child in St. Anthony’s comforting shadow.

It is one of the reasons I took the time, over a four year time span, to compile the most commented on columns and related stories Roselandites have shared with me over the years. As a reborn member of St. Anthony’s, I have been drawn ever closer to my Italian roots. My love of all things Italian extends not only to my writing for Fra Noi, but also to occasionally volunteering at the Casa Italia Roselli Library, taking part in their literary seminars (to be able to write down and publish my family’s Italian ancestry stories and memories), to attending the Casa Italia subtitled Summer Italian Film Series, and donating items to and visiting the Italian American Veterans Museum which is home to militaria from the Pullman Avignone, Frigo, Olivi, and Baldacci families; and also the SFBI – Societa Filarmonica Bella Italia – plaque from Roseland.

The Casa Italia Roselli Library staff, led by Chicago Height’s Dominic Candeloro and assisted by Pullman’s Jeanette Risatti were an advantage in keeping me in a steadily progressive writing mode to complete my “Petals from Roseland” book. The library and its Casa Italia Publishing has gotten involved in assisting authors of various levels to publish their family stories and memories through the free Amazon self-publishing option of print-on-demand (POD). For myself, I made use of the self-publishing option by using a fee-based experienced publishing consultant rather than re-inventing the wheel and navigating the unknown world of publishing.

As I mentioned earlier, my love for all things Italian has grown as I’ve gotten older. I bake for the St. Anthony coffee club and the South Holland McSeniors group so I am never at a loss to try out Italian pastry recipes. Among the favorites by audience vote, are my tiramisu, state fair cream puffs, Italian Chocolate Love Cake, Irish Cream Bundt Cake, and the newest is my Limoncello Tiramisu made with homemade Limoncello and Lemon Curd. Come on down to St. Anthony’s for a visit and you’ll run into one of those treats after the 8:30 mass.

Speaking of books, my book “Petals from Roseland: Fond Memories of Chicago’s Roseland, Pullman, and Kensington Neighborhoods” is available for purchase at $20 with shipping an additional $4. The book is selling well, so if you haven’t orderd yours yet, now is the time to order. For more information on the book contact me at petalsfromroseland@gmail.com or contact me at 11403 S. St. Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60628; 773-701-6756; or cjfranoi@yahoo.com.

About C.J. Martello

CJ Martello has returned to his roots as the author of “Petals from Roseland.” After five years of writing his column as a resident of Chicago's North Side, CJ put his money where his heart is and moved to Pullman, near the Roseland area in which he grew up. Having joined the Spaghetti-Os, Veneti nel Mondo and St. Anthony of Padua Parish and being one of the founders of the Roseland Roundtable Facebook page, CJ has become reacquainted with countless friends and acquaintances from his youth. CJ is looking forward to retirement and completing the books he has put on hold, including one that will encompass as much of Roseland's rich, beloved history as possible.