The Inevitability of Change – Riverside Brookfield Landmark

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It’s hard to let go of traditions. Especially when it comes to institutions that shape our lives, it can be painful to lose the tangible presence of buildings that have played such an important role in our lives. There is no doubt about that.

The reaction to news released last week that the St. Nikola Serbian Orthodox Church in Brookfield had made a request to buy the St. Barbara’s Church campus a few blocks north has been painful for some.

Since the people in St. Nikola Church had already learned of their parish leadership’s interest in St. Barbara – they started an online petition against it a week before the story was published – most of the concerns seem to have emanated from parishioners in the parish the Holy Guardian Angel, which the St. Barbara Church counts as one of its two places of worship.

One person wrote to The Landmark that the article was “objectionable” and also claimed that the report was “unfounded.” This led us to wonder whether this person had taken the time to read the article, as the article clearly indicated that St. Nicola’s interest in St. Barbara was expressed by both the Pastor of the Holy Guardian Angels and the President the St. Nikola. Church council was confirmed, both of whom were quoted.

The article prompted the Holy Guardian Angels Pastor Rev. Brian Kean to write the article to his parishioners last week in a letter. His note essentially repeated what the Landmark reported.

Perhaps some did not like hearing from the Landmark, rather than from their own community leaders, of St. Nikola’s interest in St. Barbara. Well, that’s our job, and if church members feel there needs to be better communication within the church, they should take care of it internally.

All in all, we believe that Holy Guardian Angels parishioners should be realistic about the parish’s ability to support two church campuses. While the ward has not attempted to sell St. Barbara’s Church or the Congregation Center across the street, it is the Archdiocese of Chicago that will be making that call.

The cost of maintaining all of these buildings compared to the amount of money the Archdiocese could raise from selling the St. Barbara Campus will likely be too high for the Archdiocese to ignore.

Even if St. Nikola Church abandons any plan to purchase the St. Barbara real estate, this campus, which occupies a sizable portion 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 community receives an offer to sell its Brookfield holdings, and the village will be happy to put those lots back on its tax lists if it comes to that.

Two tough years passed between the merger of two proud Catholic parishes and the uncertainty as to whether they could finance the maintenance of the old, unused school and monastery buildings.

Change is difficult, but change will come. And the Landmark will report on it.

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