Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Ukranian Catholic Church
 by: chicago designslinger

 [Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church (1973) Yaroslav Korsunsky, architect /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Schism - a formal division within, or separation from, a church or religious body over some doctrinal difference. In 1054 the Catholic church went through a great schism when the eastern based Constantinoplian portion of the Christian sect decided to go their separate way and bid the Roman pope farewell. It was Greek vs. Latin and a power struggle between east vs. west.

[Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church, 739 N. Oakley Blvd., Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

In 1595, bishops serving-up services in the Eastern tradition in the Ukraine decided that they wanted to return to the Western Roman fold while still maintaining their Eastern Orthodox traditions. One sticking point for many of the pope's red-robed cardinals was the fact that the Orthodox clergy were allowed to marry while the papal princes were, in theory anyway, celibate. Plus the veneration of icons, an integral part of the Orthodox tradition, made many in the Roman hierarchy uncomfortable, and the practitioners of the Eastern Greek rite were still running things on Julius Caesar's ancient Julian calendar. That was a sticking point because in 1582 Pope Gregory XIII created the Gregorian calendar in order to more accurately count the days of the year. But the Orthodox church stuck to their original day-counting-calendar so big Christian events like Easter were celebrated about 15 days apart.  Any issues the cardinals had were brushed aside since the pope was the ultimate decider of such things, and when he said okay in 1595, the Rusyns of the Ukraine, with their Slavonic practices intact, began communing with Rome.

    [Sts. Volodymyr and Ohla Ukrainian Catholic Church, Ukrainian Village Historic District, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

As the 19th century was drawing to a close Rutherian Ukrainians began immigrating to the United States in large numbers and many of them settled in Chicago. They were shunned by the established Catholic hierarchy in the city, so in 1905 formed their own parish. In 1915 they completed construction on St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church, a massive $175,000 structure at the intersection of Oakley Boulevard and Rice Street in the heart of the city's Ukrainian enclave. Things went swimmingly until the early 1960s when Pope John XXIII decided it was time to bring the 1900-year-old religious institution into the 20th century. The Second Vatican Council shook traditionalists to their core, especially when Catholics ditched the Latin mass. Repercussions were felt all the way to the altar of St. Nicholas when the church was designated a cathedral and the Bishop Jaroslav Cabro decreed in 1964 that the parishes and missions in his diocese would modernize and follow the Gregorian calendar.

  [Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church, West Town, Chicago /Image & Artwork: chicago designslinger]

Things came to a head in 1968 when the more conservative members of St. Nicholas picketed in front of Bishop Cabro's Oak Park home to protest their treatment on the feast day of the Epiphany. They'd shown-up at the cathedral for a water blessing but were turned away because according to the Gregorian calendar the feast day had already taken place two weeks earlier, at the beginning of January. Easter, of course, was also celebrated on two different days, and traditionalists wanted to hold on to their traditions. As a result, a great schism occurred in St. Nicholas parish. But like previous break-ups that had occurred in the long history of the Christian church an accommodation was reached, a truce was called, and although the parish was split into two parts, everyone seemed happy with the outcome. Sts. Volodymyr and Olha set-up shop just a block-and-a-half south of the onion-domed church they had been praying in, and hired Minneapolis architect Yaroslav Korsunsky to start drawing-up plans for their new house of worship. And instead of using the traditional Slavic-inspired onion domes to cap the roof, Korsunsky went back to the source, the rounded domes of Hagia Sophia, where Emperor Constantine II built a church in the year 360 and began the conversion of the pagan Roman empire into a Christian one. Sts. Volodymyr and Olha was consecrated in October 1973, and in 1989 Korsunsky achieved a fame of sorts when his firm KKE became one of the project architects on the Mall of America.

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