San Rocco Oratory

of the Archdiocese of Chicago

Epiphany, 2008: harpist Nancy Dunagan, flautist Denise LaGiglia, and pianist Marty Hesse
Epiphany, 2008: harpist Nancy Dunagan, flautist Denise LaGiglia, and pianist Marty Hesse.

Gospel Book and icons
Gospel Book enthroned in the hall, named after St. Anthony. Note the icon of Christ the Teacher, with a light in front of it. Both icons are loaned to us from Father Milos Vesin, pastor of St. Michael's Church in Lansing. Traditionally, the icon of Mary is on the left; the icon of Christ is on the right. The purple cloths are in accord with the season of Lent.

Stations of the Cross on Friday evening during Lent
Stations of the Cross on Friday evening during Lent

Vespers on Friday evening during Lent
Vespers on Friday evening during Lent

Howard Morrison of the Knights of Columbus
Sunday, Feb. 17, Father Gilligan welcomes two special guests. On the left, Howard C. Morrison speaks to the people of San Rocco. He is the District Deputy for the State of Illinois, for the Knights of Columbus. On the right is James J. Leech, Grand Knight of the Chicago Heights Council 997 of the Knights of Columbus. Mr. Morrison explains that one purpose of their organization is charity; the Knights want to help out the San Rocco community, after the devastation of their church.

Knights of Columus
Here, the Knights present their checks to the community of San Rocco. Their generosity is much appreciated by the people. That's St. Rocco himself in the background, on the right.

Tom D'Ambrosio, Joe Grilli, Jayleen Angellotti, Father Gilligan, John Onofrio, and Paul Grossi
From the left are Tom D'Ambrosio of Giersten Restoration, Joe Grilli, Jayleen Angellotti, Father Gilligan, John Onofrio, and Paul Grossi of Giersten. This is the building committee, in which each member has a special competence. As Paul Grossi had asked, there are only two or three people from San Rocco involved, no more.

Easter Sunday at St. Rocco: Full House
Easter Sunday, 2008, at St. Rocco; we have an overflowing number of people present and participating. On the far left are Enza and Rosario Randazzo, in from New Jersey.

Here is the other half of the congregation on Easter Sunday, 2008
Here is the other half of the Easter Sunday congregation.

(from the left) Marty Hesse, Michael, Scczasny, and David Allie
From the left are Marty Hesse, Michael Szczasny, and David Allie.

Easter Choir, singing Sunday Morning
Here is the Easter Sunday Choir, singing (appropriately) Sunday Morning by Handel. "Let our eager, Easter voices sing it out, so he rejoices..." The soprano section is augmented by Pat Hahto, 4th from the left.

Vespers, May 10, 2008, for the Viigil of Pentecost
Vespers, May 10, 2008, for the Vigil of Pentecost, begins with a short service of light. The church is in darkness and silence; then the ministers enter, led by the Easter candle. Deacon Bob Bonta (above) carries the candle at the head of the procession.

Bishop Perry presides at Vespers
Bishop Joseph Perry presides at Vespers. He is the episcopal vicar for this region of the Archdiocese of Chicago. To his left is Paul Rodriguez, server. At this time, Father Gilligan is singing the encomium, a song of praise for the Easter candle.

Mike Pena reads the second blessing before the Shema, the
Mike Pena reads the second blessing before the Shema, the "Hear, O Israel." Note that the Easter candle is in a place on honor in the sanctuary, in this case, right before the altar. We are still in the season of Eastertime.

The choir sings the Shema, with the people.
The choir sings the Shema, with the people. The soprano section is made up of Megan Murray and Luisa Pizzoferrato.

Sandra Ziccardi reads the third blessing, after the Shema.
Sandra Ziccardi reads the third blessing, after the Shema.

Megan Murray sings Psalm 117, Laudate Dominum, by Mozart
Megan Murray sings Psalm 117, Laudate Dominum, by Mozart. She also sings the doxology, Gloria Patri, at the end of the Psalm.

After the Psalm, all pray in silence. Bishop Perry then sings a collect. All anwer Amen.
After the Psalm, all stand and pray in silence. Bishop Perry then sings a collect. All answer Amen and sit down for the next Scriptural song.

Mayor Angelo Ciambrone, reading the text of the Exodus from Egypt
Mayor Angelo Ciambrone reads aloud the Scripture text for Vespers. The text is the story of the Exodus from Egypt, reminding us of the Passover and the paschal mystery. After the reading, Megan Murray leads us in the Responsorial Song. Bishop Perry then delivers a sermon, speaking explicitly of the dignity of the altar in a church. He explains why the altar is solemnly blest and why it is treated with such reverence.

Bishop Perry begins the dedication of the altar.
Bishop Perry begins the dedication of the altar. He is assisted by Deacon Dan Ragonese (far left). Paul Rodriguez, next to him, holds the book for Bishop Perry.

Bishop Perry anoints the altar with blest oil
Bishop Perry anoints the altar with blest oil. Deacon Bob Bonta is on the right.

Bishop Perry continues to anoint the altar.
Bishop Perry continues to anoint the altar.

The Magnificat
At the beginning of the first verse of the Magnificat, all present make the sign of the cross: "How great is God; my soul shall sing..." During the Magnificat, the newly blest altar is incensed, then the people. Deacon Bob Bonta then incenses the clergy, the choir, the crucifix, and the sacred images.

Bishop is incensing the altar, as a sign of reverence.
Bishop Perry is here incensing the altar, as a sign of reverence. The choir and people are singing the Magnificat. In the background, from the left, are Michael Pena, holding the crosier, Deacon Dan Ragonese, and Paul Rodriguez.

Bishop Perry, incensing the people, during the Magnificat
Here is Bishop Perry, incensing the people, as they sing the Magnificat.

Vespers coming to an end with sung petitions
In addition to the Psalms, a second major part of Vespers is the solemn prayers sung towards the end. In this case, we use a sung litany, as at Sunday Mass. Father Gilligan (above, facing the bishop) sings the petitions, and the people answer Kyrie, eleison each time a petition is sung. Vespers then ends with a collect, a blessing, and the solemn dismissal, with the double Alleluia, as on Easter Sunday.

Bishop Perry, as he leaves the sanctuary at St. Rocco
Bishop Perry, as he leaves the sanctuary of San Rocco. Deacon Dan Ragonese is to the left.

Maria Panici, checking out the restored statue of St. Rocco
Maris Panici is checking out the restored statue of St. Rocco, the handiwork of Daprato-Rigali Studios. The statue will be painted by Tom Planera.

July 20, 2008: Baptism of Jeremy Garcia
Right after the baptism with water of Jeremy Garcia, all sing "Amen." They do the same after the anointing.

The procession begins, moving north on Union.
August 10, 2008, about 11 a.m., the San Lorenzo procession is headed by the Amaseno Lodge banner; at first, the group moves north on Union.

In 1994, Tom Planera restored our statue of St. Rocco. Here is the photographic record of that work.
In 1994, Tom Planera restored our damaged statue of St. Rocco. Here is photographic documentation of that work.

Now, in September, 2008, Tom Planera again restores the same statue.
Now, in September, 2008, Tom Planera again restores the same statue, severly damaged in the December, 2007, fire. Although the statue blew up, Daprato-Rigali restored it; Tom Planera finished the job by his expert painting.

St Rocco, freshly painted and restored to a place of prominence
St Rocco statue, newly painted and restored to a place of prominence

The former Quigley Seminary, now the chancery office (pastoral center) of the Archdiocese of Chicago
The former Quigley Seminary, now the Pastoral Center (chancery office) of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

New Nativity Set
A new nativity set was obtained from Formentini, by Mayor Angelo Ciambrone.

San Rocco Choir, before Christmas Mass
Before the Christmas Mass, the choir sings numerous carols, with the people.

Celeste Jones accompanies the choir on the organ; she also directs the singing.
Celeste Jones (right) directs the singing and accompanies the choir and congregation. St Rocco is in the back, in the center; he sings in the tenor section.

Gospel Procession on Christmas
Christmas Day, the Gospel Procession is more solemn, accompanied by the choir, singing the Madrigal Alleluia. Above, Paul Rodriguez, carrying incense, leads the procession.

St Rocco
Over in the hall, named after St. Anthony, temporary arrangements are made for Sunday Mass and other liturgies. The statue of St. Rocco, above, used in the annual festival, has an image of St. Padre Pio at its base.

Work crew inside the church building
March 5, 2008: The work crew inside the building is affixing dry wall to the ceiling.

Note the new insulation, already installed.
Note the new insulation, already installed.

Czlowiek przy robocie! Dobrze!
Czlowiek przy robocie! Dobrze!

Dziekuje wam bardzo!
Kadzy robotnik wykwalifikowany jest pliny. Dziekuje wam bardzo!

Building Committee
March 11, 2008: For the restoration of the church building, the building committee today consists of, from the left, Jackie Graham, Jayleen Angellotti, Father Gilligan, John Onofrio, Tom D'Ambrosio, and Paul Grossi. Joe Grilli is away in Florida this month.

Giersten truck in front of San Rocco Oratory
Each day, workers arrive at the oratory, for work on the ceiling, sealing and plastering.

Worker finishing the ceiling
Each worker finishes the ceiling from scaffolding or a tall ladder.

[Jan. 3, 2008] In the afternoon, Bishop Perry, local vicar, visits the San Rocco Oratory church building and St. Anthony Hall.  He inspects the extensive damage to the church and notes the progress made to date in cleaning up the facility; the carpeting now has been almost entirely removed, as well as all sacred images. Much work remains to be done. He expresses an intention to visit the San Rocco community soon, for Sunday Mass.   Bishop Perry also expressed appreciation for the setup in the hall; it seemed, in his view, adequate for the purpose.

Today, the mail brings the current issue of the Catholic New World, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Chicago.  This issue features an article on the recent fire at St. Rocco.

[Jan. 4] Paul Grossi, of Giertsen Restoration, calls to report on work accomplished.  He says that the hymnals formerly in the pews cannot be saved; they are permeated with smoke.   (Similarly, the Sacramentary and Lectionary must be removed from use.)  The statue of St. Rocco is also certainly beyond salvaging.  The ceiling and light fixtures will have to be completely replaced.  With regard to the Stadelmeier chasubles, the Gospel Book,  the organ, the keyboard, and other items, he says that it would be good to have specific questions in writing.  The insurance adjuster from Gallagher Bassett, Michael Ehlers, will indicate proper compensation to the Oratory for  its losses.  As long as he knows what is destroyed, we don't need to keep damaged items.  With regard to physical restoration, he says that the planning committee Father Gilligan wants should be no more than two individuals, three at the very most.   Paul thinks that restoration work could be completed in about two months; we can look forward to a written estimate within a few days and a meeting soon.

[Sunday, Jan. 6] For the Feast of the Epiphany, incense is used, in accord with the Scripture and the prayers of the day.  The liturgy is enhanced with Nancy Dunagan, harpist, and Denise LaGigilia, flautist.  At the end of Mass, at announcement time, recognition is given to a $1,000 donation received from Helsel-Jepperson Electric Company, in Chicago Heights, towards restoration of the church building at St. Rocco.

[Jan. 10] At St. Rocco, Father Gilligan meets with those involved in the restoration of the church building.  These men are Michael Ehlers, insurance adjuster from Gallagher Bassett, Paul Grossi of Giertsen, Dan Saenz ("SIGNz"), content  specialist, and Tom D'Ambrosio, project manager.  Dan is in charge of the vestments, statues, etc., for restoration, if possible; he will present a complete inventory within a week, he says.  Tom will coordinate all construction work.   Paul says that Giertsen will have to replace  the ceiling, light fixtures, bathroom vanities, and electrical work; the sacristy wall is also largely destroyed.   Heating subcontractor is Oliver's (Wood Dale, Illinois); electrical subcontractor is Elcon (Elk Grove Village, Illinois).  In response to the rector's request, Paul agrees to provide a waiver of lien for these subcontractors.  He will also provide a detailed, written estimate by next Friday, Jan. 18, which will be coordinated with Michael Ehlers.  His approval is necessary. Michael says that the Hoyle Company was hired by Gallagher Bassett, to determine the exact cause of the fire.  (Michael mentions that Brian Czarnecki of Hoyle could not say whether the fire began in an extension cord or in the multi-plug extension unit; both were burned beyond further investigation.)

Paul says that inspectors from the city of Chicago Heights have already visited the site; once proper permits are obtained, he says, work can begin.   The pews will have to be removed, to pick up the remaining fragments of carpeting.   Dan says that the stations of the cross can be salvaged, with cleaning and sealing.  He says, too, that the file cabinet and desk in the sacristy should be replaced.  As yet, he cannot speak for the state of the vestments or the organ.

[Jan. 14] Father Gilligan leaves for a retreat, up at Mundelein; after many conferences, prayers, and liturgies, he returns Thursday evening, Jan. 17.  At least for a while, he will be nice.

[Jan. 18]   Another meeting is held at the Oratory, which is still redolent with the smell of smoke. Paul Grossi is accompanied by Rick Giertsen, owner of the restoration company.  In extensive detail, Paul explains to Chris Poulin of Gallagher Bassett (supervisor of Michael Ehlers) what work is necessary in the church building.  Over in the St. Anthony hall, there are some comfortable chairs and a couch, where all present can go over the planned renovation carefully.  We then walk over to the hall to continue the discussion.

Costs for the reconstruction of the buillding and costs for replacement of contents are estimated separately.  With regard to the building, both furnaces have to be replaced.  Hahn & Coe will have to replace its amplification system, with the exception of the control box. The organ, however, can probably be saved. During restoration, the pews are to be removed to a warehouse, where they will be varnished.  Dan says that this is no problem. Removal will make work inside the building easier. The kneelers, says Chris, have yet to be tested for smoke residue; if they were fabric, they would have to go.  Rigali, he says, can provide the value of a replacement statue of St. Rocco. A 10-page estimate for the building is presented and accepted; reconstruction costs total, fortunately, less than $90,700.00.  There is a $1,000 deductible.

With regard to other costs, not all figures are in yet.  Replacement of contents (hymnals, lectionary, vestments, etc.) will be estimated soon; Dan Saenz presents a 19-page inventory, which he  says is 85% complete as of today.  Paul says that permits have been applied for.  If work begins Monday, Jan. 21, as planned, he hopes for completion perhaps in Eastertime, which begins March 23.   He says that the drywall in the ceiling really saved the building from breaking out in flames.

[Jan. 20] At Sunday Mass, Skeeziks Markionni presents a $1,000 check from the Catholic War Veterans, towards restoration of the church building; another $1,000 check is received anonymously, for the same purpose.  Father Gilligan announces that St. Philip's Lutheran church in Blue Island has offered to help out in any way possible.  Sam Ciambrone announces that the Carnevale before Lent has to be cancelled this year, because our hall is being used for Mass the next day.

[Jan. 22] Of the Daprato-Rigali firm,  Bob Rigali reports that replication of the statue of St. Rocco is possible, using a plaster mold.  The new statue would be a duplicate of the original.  For many years, this firm has done much work for churches of the Archdiocese of Chicago; it has an excellent reputation.

[Jan. 26] Father Gilligan, Marty Hesse, and Celeste Jones meet over lunch, to plan for choir rehearsals and other music matters, for the rest of 2008.

The family of the late Louis Capacasa
The family of the late Louis Capacasa, at San Rocco for a memorial Mass on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2008.

[Feb. 2] At the request of Denise Kagan, the late Louis Capacasa (husband of Donna Piacenti)  is commemorated at Sunday Mass.  Members of his family read a Scripture reading and bring forward the bread and wine, at the preparation of the gifts.  At the end of Communion, when a song of praise is usually sung, we have a memorial of Louis, with the song May Light Eternal, a sung litany, and a song of commendation, May Saints of Old.  On this Sunday, the hall is overlfowing, with people standing in the aisles.

At this Mass, recognition is given for a $1,000 donation from the Amaseno Lodge in Chicago Heights and a $200 donation from the St. Rocco di Potenza Society, headquartered at St. William's Church in Chicago.   An announcement is made that Sylvia Panici, wife of Cesar, has passed away; her funeral will be at St. Liborius in Steger on Thursday. 

[Feb. 6] Ash Wednesday is observed in the hall, as in previous years, with a Liturgy of the Word.  This is a day of fast (from food) and abstinence (from meat).

[Feb. 8] In South Holland, Paul Grossi meets with Father Gilligan and reports on the ongoing work of restoration of the oratory. Paul also delivers vestments and altar paraments, which have been rescued from the fire; they are now cleaned and fully restored.  The Chicago Archdiocese has issued a $30,000 payment for Giersten, and Father Gilligan signs it over.  That evening, people celebrate the Way of the Cross and Vespers in the hall, named after St. Anthony. 

[Feb. 20, 2008] In the afternoon, at San Rocco Oratory, Paul Grossi of Giertsen Restoration meets with Jayleen Angellotti, Father Gilligan, Joe Grilli, and John Onofrio.  As Paul had strongly suggested, this committee is no more than two or three people, to get the job done.  Each member has a certain expertise.  Tom D'Ambrosio, project manager, is also present; we agree he would contact Tom Planera to repaint the rerodos, the back wall behind the sanctuary.  Paul would contact Jayleen with regard to the color of paint and the new lighting fixtures needed.  (Fortunately, the two lighting fixtures over the sanctuary, from the old San Rocco church, were saved from the fire; they are OK.)  Paul also says that the choral music in the church was entirely destroyed by smoke; all of it, including the copies we had of Messiah, will have to be replaced.

Paul says that Father Gilligan is to contact Mike Ehlers of Gallagher Bassett Insurance, to let him know of the cost of replacement of the statue of St. Rocco, as estimated by Daprato-Rigali ($8,770). 

Joe Grilli asks for a surge protector in the distribution box; all agree.  We also agree on installing security lights, timer lights, and track lighting, as suggested by Paul.  We also agree on a battery pack for the lights, as well as a smoke alarm. To Jayleen, Tom shows a sample of the wood for the new vanities.  The committee considers it not feasible to expand the building to the north, as some people had proposed earlier; the furnaces and the duct work have to remain where they are.  This group also does not accept the idea of adding moulding on the inside of the building.  To make more room in the side aisles, so people could get through more easily, we also consider narrowing the center aisle from 6' to 4' and expanding the side aisles from 3' to 4'.  If we do that, all three aisles would be 4' wide.  We also agree on making more room in the area of the former sacristy, for statues of St. Rocco and St. Lawrence,  with kneelers, perhaps room also for the choir and/or additional seats for the congregation.    In this shrine area, both St. Rocco and St. Lawrence could have appropriate podiums or other enhancements.  Tom says that there is no difficulty in making this space open; the register can be located in the ceiling. Joe Grilli proposes the possibility, in due time, of a mosaic or some similar art work.  In the west part of the church, the confessional and baptistry are intact and undamaged; they would remain where they are.  By the same token, the other statues of saints would remain where they were before the fire, including Mary and St. Joseph.

[Feb. 25] Paul Grossi reports that the new lighting would run about $1,950.  He also again promises a waiver of lien for his two subcontractors.  Mike Ehlers says that Gallagher Bassett will cover the cost of replacing the statue of St. Rocco; payment for that will be made directly to Daprato-Rigali.

[Feb. 26] By phone, Dan Saenz confirms that all the choral music has indeed been destroyed by smoke.  He will have a complete inventory by next week, he says.

[Feb. 29] Inspectors from the City of Chicago Heights visit the church building; they approve the work done on the ceiling, namely installation of  new rafters, ductwork, and insulation.  Drywall is not yet installed.  

[March 2, 2008] Before Sunday Mass, Tom Planera agrees to repaint the rerodos (back of the sanctuary) and the baptistry, perhaps also some kind of special shrine area for St. Rocco.  He also wants to be involved in the color selection of the paint for the interior of the building.  After Mass, the choir  agrees that they should be moved from the west side of the church to the east side, in the shrine area; they would have to be on risers there, perhaps a platform.

[March 3] Tom D'Ambrosio, project manager, reports on the ongoing renovation, specifically on flooring, painting, and lighting.  A summary of the report is sent to the building committee (Jayleen Angellotti, Joe Grilli, and John Onofrio) and to subcontractors (Dave Hilgen & Tom Planera, painters) and Fran Dandurand (woodworking).    Mike Ehlers of Gallagher Bassett today confirms that insurance will cover the full cost of restoration of the plaster statue of St. Rocco but not the full amount of a lindenwood statue; only replacement costs are covered.

[March 5] Today, Father Gilligan confers with Randy DiSalvo (of Walker Company in Harvey), Dennis Fleischer, Ph.D. (expert in acoustics),  Father Phil Horrigan (of the Office for Divine Worship), Bishop Perry, and John Onofrio.  He also visits the oratory and finds a Polish work crew busy installing new drywall in the ceiling.

[March 6] Marty Hesse and Rob Markionni meet with Father Gilligan at the oratory, to consider how and if the choir's preference should be considered, to relocate to the northeast corner of the building for the liturgy. 

[Sunday, March 9] On yellow paper, a one page report is made at the end of Mass, listing 14 individuals and three subcontractors, all involved in restoration of the oratory. 

[March 11] The building committee meets at the church, to evaluate work done and make decisions about work needed.  We agree to build a platform in the northeast corner of the church, for the choir, and in due time to build a shrine there for St. Rocco.  We also discuss numerous other matters, such as painting  the pews the same color as before, new electrical work, including new receptacles, cleaning of the confessional and baptistry, the color of the walls, replacement of the side door, flooring, light fixtures, etc. 

[March 12] Joe Ufheil from Daprato-Rigali comes to pick up the devastated statue of St. Rocco, to bring it back to the studio on the north side of Chicago.  Joe notes that the crew in the church is still hard at work, restoring the ceiling.  On the phone, John Rigali, brother of Bob, says that Daprato-Rigali could help design a shrine for St. Rocco and any other enhancement needed for the oratory.  The company does everything, from stained glass to altars, to statues.

[Sunday, March 16] Because of the cold, the Palm Procession is held inside today.  The DiGiovanni clan celebrates its St. Joseph Table at a local hall, at the Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Steger.  Because Mass is regularly celebrated in the hall, people don't want to use the facility for other purposes.

[March 19] Father Gilligan meets with the head of the finance committee of Infant Jesus of Prague Parish, to see how the group works. Cooperation with the Archdiocese of Chicago has been beneficial. For example, each month, the Archdiocese provides a free review of expenditures and records for many parishes; this service is much appreciated.

[March 20] A brief meeting is held to evaluate the needs of the choir and accompanist, in relocating to the northeast corner of the San Rocco church.  The Holy Thursday Evening Mass of the Lord's  Supper is held at 7 p.m. in the St. Anthony Hall.

[March 21] The Good Friday Liturgy of the Word is celebrated in the hall, followed by veneration of the cross and Holy Communion, as is customary.  People visit the oratory church building afterwards and discuss the color of the paint to be used.

[March 23] Easter Sunday, two trumpets accompany much of the Mass, including Sunday Morning and the Hallelujah Chorus.  During the preparation of the gifts, the choir sings Mozart's Christ Is Risen; after that, our guest instrumentalists play the Trumpet Voluntary.The congregation is large, with standing room only; in addition to the priest, three people help with Communion.  Jackie Graham and others finalize a decision about the color of the paint to be used in the interior of the church building.  A report is given to the people, on the restoration of the ceiling in the church; this report is printed on the back of the yellow sheet, with the Order of Mass.

[March 26] From the Office of Divine Worship, of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Father Phil Horrigan drives down from the north side of Chicago.  He visits both the church building and the St. Anthony Hall, to prepare his recommendations for restoration.  He is a specialist in art, architecture, and environment, recommended by Bishop Perry.  Father Horrigan has a master's in theology from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, as well as a bachelor's (the "S.T.B.").  He makes several recommendations, for example, removal of the small platform under the presidential chair, to make more room in the sanctuary.

John Onofrio meets with Paul Grossi and Tom D'Ambrosio, to discuss various aspects of restoration, including new lighting fixtures.  He arranges for the existing risers to be repainted; he also sees to installation of a platform in the northeast corner of the church building, as well as visual separation of the sanctuary from that area.  This is accomplished by a vertical moulding,up to the ceiling, and a small railing, not unlike the railing at the baptistry.

[March 30] On the back of the Order of Mass, a yellow sheet distributed to the people, is a report on restoration of the sound system in the church building.  This work was done by Lee Hahn of Hahn & Coe.   Today, also, we welcome Catholic War Veterans.  At the beginning of Mass, they march in, with flags.  During Communion, we sing the Battle Hymn of the Republic; at the end of Mass, we sing America the Beautiful.  A special remembrance of the dead is also made at this celebration.

[April 6] Jackie Graham and Jayleen Angellotti review the color of the paint used for the risers in the church building. A report is made on the renewed electrical system.

[April 7] The upper level of the sanctuary is removed, to make more room there, following the recommendation of Father Phil Horrigan of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Both the sanctuary and the choir platform in the northeast corner of the church are covered with Durock, manufactured by Gypsum Corporation. With installation of Durock, the floor is rigid and secure, as opposed to a wooden surface. Tom D'Ambrosio coordinates this work, as well as preparation of the floor throughout the building.

[April 13] At Sunday Mass, a report is distributed on the restored heating and electrical system in the church building. Bishop Perry is said to be coming to San Rocco on Saturday, May 10, at 6 p.m. for Solemn Vespers in the restored church. Today, John Onofrio submits a sample of the color of the paint to be used for the pews; he also picks up a check for payment for the new lighting fixtures. We will be reimbursed for that expense.

[April 17] Tom D'Ambrosio meets with Jackie Graham and John Onofrio, to determine the extent of damage to the stained glass windows. Some were damaged by the fire; some were damaged, it seems, in the process of restoration. Paul Grossi is trying to get an estimate of the original cost of flooring in the church from Napoli Tile; he says that the new flooring should be in place in about five days. It is spastrelle cermiche pressate a secco smaltate in monocottura pasta bianca, imported from Italy, specifically from Alfa Ceramiche, in Reggio Emilia. Paul says that the flooring should be completed in about five days. Fran Dandurand calls, too, confirming that the new altar will be only 36" high. Joe Grilli says he will check on the surge protector he recommended for the electrical system. Finally, today, Bob Rigali (of Daprato-Rigali) reports that the new statue of St. Rocco will be available by the end of the month.

[April 26] At 11 a.m., we celebrate the funeral of Jean Ida Anzelmo, mother of August Anzelmo and Marilyn Leader.  For the previous two days, people had been notified by phone, through the San Rocco computerized phone message system.

[Sunday, April 27] An article on the back of the music schedule describes the restored liturgical books at San Rocco; the bulletin explains why carpeting is not ideal in Catholic churches.  At Mass today, Michael Pena receives his first holy Communion, as a member of the Sunday gathering.  He received his instruction at St. Joseph's in Dyer, Indiana.

[April 28] Tom D'Ambrosio supervises putting the pews back in the church. The building committee evaluates how the pews should be distributed. Extra floor space is provided in the northeast corner of the nave, for the piano and organ; extra space is also provided, as before, around the baptistry, since people gather there for baptisms. Meanwhile, workers from Giersten clean the pews, in preparation for their painting tomorrow. Risers are put back in place. Extra tiles are stored in the St. Anthony Hall. The committee checks out the new carpeting in the confessional. Repairs to the windows are to be completed within a week. John Onofrio points out that the ceiling lights are largely installed, except for some of the lights over the sanctuary. Unity chairs, which can lock into the form of pews, are chosen in the same oak color as the wooden elements in the church building.

The building committee is pleased with the new flooring, used in the nave, the sanctuary, and the choir area. The extra large tiles provide an expansive look to the church building. Their rough surface provides traction, avoiding a slippery surface, making for safety. Their subdued color will also hide dirt. That color, says Jackie Graham, will match the new color of the pews.

The building committee also unanimously agrees on the placement of statues in the restored church. The crucifix, for example, will be put back in its former location. Mary will be back in exactly the same place as before. St. Rocco will be elevated in a special shrine area on the north wall; St. Lawrence will be on the east wall nearby. These two saints, as you know, are especially honored in the San Lorenzo Festival every August.

Father Gilligan visits Dandurand Custom Woodworking in Blue Island, to check out the new altar. It is made of mahogany, with a sturdy, durable appearance; it should be ready within a few days. Our expert from the Archdiocese of Chicago, Father Horrigan, had recommended a smaller altar for the sanctuary, to allow more room for the servers and for movement there.

Finally, at 5 p.m., at Woods Funeral Home on Halsted, a Liturgy of the Word is celebrated for the funeral of Rosa Koite, age 70. She leaves 6 children and 10 grandchildren.  This liturgy is largely in English, partly in Spanish. Most of the people present are more fluent in English. The funeral home has standing room only.

[May 5] Tom D'Ambrosio today supervises the anchoring of the pews to the floor; they were newly painted last week, to match the new flooring.  Tony Aguilar confirms placement of the pews, especially to make room in the northeast corner of the building, so people can get by.  Materials that were stored outside (in mini-mobile containers) are brought back inside the church.  Tom Planera begins painting the rerodos; he also repairs the crucifix.

[May 6] Mike Ehlers, insurance adjuster, meets with members of the building committee, with Giersten (Rick Giersten, Paul Grossi, Dan Saenz, and Tom D'Ambrosio), and with Father Gilligan.  Gallagher Bassett will compensate San Rocco Oratory for expenses since the fire, says Mike; documentation is provided. Those present evaluate the work so far accomplished and that which Dan Saenz reports as a total loss.  These are materials ruined by smoke and heat, last Dec. 23. With Jackie Graham, Mike investigates the state of the stained glass windows, some of which are discolored.  John Onofrio coordinates ongoing work of restoration, working with Dan Saenz, contents manager.  The pews on the east side of the church are moved 5 inches to the west, to make more room for the Wurlitzer organ, which will come tomorrow.

[May 7] Fran Dandurand delivers the new altar, made of mahogany.  Bob Rigali says that he will have the new statue of San Rocco ready Friday.  The choir riser, formerly in the west aisle, is moved to the St. Anthony Hall, where it can be used for displays, concerts, etc.; it fits perfectly and conveniently on the east side of the room.  The organ, fully restored, is delivered by Gerry Cosgrove of Zodiac Equipment Restoration in Mt. Prospect.  (Disposition of the organ and choir will be worked out later.)  The keyboard, damaged in the fire,  is also brought back.   Lee Hahn installs new speakers and the control center; he also tests the system.  John Onofrio arranges the statues in the church, on podiums.  Tom Planera paints the landscaping on the rerodos.  Tom D'Ambrosio adjusts the baptistry; he also obtains rubber feet for the kneelers that lack them, so the floor is not scratched.  An electrician, Theo, comes to fix the big light over the sanctuary; it has a short.

The restoration of San Rocco also gets good coverage in the SouthtownStar, with an article by David Schwaub. 

[May 10] Bishop Perry celebrates Solemn Vespers at San Rocco.  He is assisted by two deacons, Dan Ragonese and Bob Bonta.   San Rocco is filled with people; there is not a seat available.  For the second Scriptural song, Megan Murray sings Laudate Dominum, Psalm 117, by Mozart.  This is the shortest Psalm in the Bible.    Mayor Angelo Ciambrone reads the Scripture from the Book of Exodus.  Megan sings the responsorial song immediately afterwards; the people respond vigorously with Kyrie, eleison.  From the chair, Bishop Perry explains the meaning of the dedication of an altar.  He then blesses the altar, according to the Roman Ceremonial.  A litany of the saints is sung, followed by the blessing proper. The altar is anointed with oil.   At the end of Vespers, Bishop Perry sings the concluding prayer, for Pentecost, and gives a solemn, three-part blessing for Pentecost.  He also attends the reception afterwards in the hall.

[May 11] Pentecost Sunday is the day when we have our first Sunday liturgy in the church building since last December.  The Mass is embellished with a brass quintet for many of the songs, from the opening Sunday Morning to the Hallelujah Chorus after Communion; the choir sings that chorus under the direction of Celeste Jones, accompanied by Marty Hesse.    As at Vespers the evening before, the church is filled with people.


Entrance Procession for Pentecost Sunday, May 11, 2008
The Entrance Procession for Pentecost Sunday Mass, May 11, 2008, the first Mass in the church since the Dec. 23 fire. Paul Rodriguez carries the processional cross; Michael Pena carries the candle.

The opening song is Sunday morning, with a brass quintet.
The opening song is "Sunday Morning," with a brass quintet. On the right, Marty Hesse accompanies on the piano.

Gospel Procession on Pentecost
For Pentecost Sunday, the last Sunday of Easter, the Gospel Procession is more elaborate than usual, as on the First Sunday of Easter. The choir sings the Madrigal Alleluia.

Full house for Pentecost
Full house for Pentecost.

Hallelujah Chorus, by Handel
After Communion, the choir sings the Hallelujah Chorus by Handel, under the direction of Celeste Jones (in red, above).

Lou Anselmo, inviting people to help with the garden outside.
At the end of Mass, after the Post-Communion prayer, announcements are made. Here, Lou Anselmo invites people to help build up the garden in our grotto, outside.

[May 25] Because the weather is excellent, we hold our usual Corpus Christi procession outside, walking to the grotto area.  The Blessed Sacrament is carried in the monstrance, which survived the Dec. 23 fire. In the grotto, some flowers newly planted are in bloom. The altar is covered with a white cloth; candelabra are put on it, for veneration of Christ in the Eucharist.  The two candelabra, candles, and two processional candles were donated to St. Rocco Oratory by Holy Rosary Parish (113th & King Drive in Chicago), which is closing down and consolidating with the nearby St. Anthony's.  Thanks to the pastor there, Father Mark Krulewicz.

Ryan Wess carries the processional cross; Michael Pena carries the incense and the censer.  As in past years, the choir sings the verses to a Psalm on the way to the grotto; the people sing Alleluia in response.  On the way back, the choir sings the verses to All Glory, Praise, and Honor, in four-part harmony; the people sing the refrain. 

The brocaded humeral veil (a gold veil used for holding the monstrance) is missing, evidently lost in the Dec. 23 fire.  The organ is not yet fully repaired.  New latex paint on the pews (already painted with an oil-based paint) is beginning to peel off.  The vigil lights are not to be found. There is more work to be done.  

[June 5, 2008] The San Rocco finance committee meets today, as agreed at the last meeting.  We consider the budget for the next fiscal year, as well as practices asked for by the Archdiocese of Chicago. Special attention is paid to expenses of the ongoing restoration of the church building. John Graham supports the idea of a permanent alarm system for both the church and the hall; he will get bids for this. 

[Saturday, June 7, 2008] We celebrate today the funeral Mass of Armondo Buzzelli, 90 years old.  Armondo's wife, Madeline, was buried from San Rocco on January 21,  2006. Armando is survived by his sister, Lucille, and his Son, Gene.  Lucille is the youngest of ten children.  Although she grew up on The Hill, Lucille and her husband, Billl, live in Huntington Beach, California.

[Sunday, June  8] Red vigil light holders are installed at the oratory, replacing those destroyed in the fire.  At 11 a.m., after Mass, we celebrate the baptism of Daniel Ronald Peterson, son of Daniel Peterson and Elizabeth Fushi.  Afterwards, the family and guests share a common meal in the nearby hall, named after St. Anthony. 

[Thursday, June 12] Today, we celebrate the funeral of Augusta Benedetti, 98 years old, born in Amaseno, Italy.  She is the wife of Giovanni, the mother of Rose Cipolla, and the sister of Maria Planera.

[Friday, June 13]   Today, Rick Giersten and Dan Saenz of Giersten Restoration drive down to San Rocco to evaluate the ongoing problem of the paint used for the pews and other challenges.  The organ still needs further repair, and Dan says he has found someone who can make a diagnosis.  We may have to replace the organ. 

[Monday, June 16 to Thursday, June 19] The priests of the Archdiocese of Chicago gather, up in St. Charles, Illinois, to meet with Cardinal George and others; this is the priests' convocation, held every two or three years.  On Monday, John Graham reports that the Polish subcontractor warned  that the wrong paint was being used; the responsibility, therefore, is that of Giersten Restoration.  He also submits a bid for an alarm system for the church building and the hall.  His CPA also recommends Quickbooks.

[July 1] Today, a work crew finishes repainting, as needed, and sealing of the pews. Other, minor work is done as well.

[Saturday, July 12] At noon today, we celebrate the baptism of Marisela and Vanessa Soto, twins of Bernardo and Cristina [Ayala] Soto.  (You may remember Cristina, who was an alderman in Chicago Heights.)  They were married here at San Rocco a couple of years ago.  The baptism is celebrated in Spanish; the godparents came up here from Mexico, on a visa.  Muy bien.  Father John Siemanowski, pastor of St. Paul's, gave permission for the baptism to take place at San Rocco.

[Sunday, July 20] At Mass, we celebrate the baptism of Jeremy Garcia, son of Marcos and Carol, younger brother of Erik.  Relatives come up for the occasion from Mexico.  At the family's request, the baptism is in English; godparents are Antonio and Rose Cipolla.

[Tuesday, July 22] At 4:30 p.m., we celebrate the funeral of Evelyn [Sebastian] Childs, wife of Vernon; she was 79 years old.  Evelyn was the sister of Olga and the aunt of David Sebastian.  Vernon and Evelyn have lived in Wisconsin for some time; they wanted to have a local service, so people wouldn't have to drive up there.  This service is a simple Liturgy of the Word.  A daughter, Elizabeth, delivers a eulogy.  Vernon reads from 1 Corinthians 13, in the translation of J.B. Phillips.  Another daughter, Mary Ellen, reads a blessing by the late Father O'Donohue. 

[Monday, July 27] Unity Chairs arrive from Sauder.  These chairs can be locked together as pews, for example, for the choir; they can also remain as single chairs, as in the sanctuary.  They are more comfortable than regular pews and can be arranged as appropriate, giving flexiblity for groups of various sizes.  Each chair has a rack underneath for the Leaflet Missal prayerbook and a hymnbook, thereby avoiding clutter. 

[Tuesday, July 29] At 11 a.m., we celebrate the funeral of Robert DiCosmo, 91 years of age. 

[Sunday, Aug. 3, 2008] At the end of Sunday Mass, Joe and Lorraine Petrongelli receive a blessing, commemorating their 50 years of married life.  At 5 p.m., at Villa de Bruno in Lansing, Bishop Perry celebrates his ten years of service as vicar of region VI and auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

[Aug. 10, 2008] As part of the annual San Lorenzo Festival, a procession begins at the Amaseno Lodge, moves north on Union, east on 22nd Street, and ends up at San Rocco for Mass about 11:30.  To help with the restoration of the building, the collection is higher than usual; people are generous. 

[Aug. 15] Mass for the Feast of the Assumption is celebrated at 7 p.m.

[Aug. 20] Mary Kay O'Connell of the Parish Operations Service Center (POSC), comes to ACP to install Quickbooks for the San Rocco account.  She provides consultation, as does Pam Gutter, Vicariate Administrative Consultant.  Both people will help San Rocco follow "best practices" and implement policies of the Archdiocese of Chicago.  There will also be a monthly audit of all transactions.  Such services are provided free of charge to all parishes.

[Aug. 21] In the morning, Father Gilligan meets at San Rocco with Dan Saenz, of Giertsen Restoration Company; Dan explains the amount which has to be paid to Giersten, item by item, an amount not covered by insurance.  Dan also has his carpenter install book racks where needed and a vertical molding on the left edge of the sanctuary.  He also meets with the organ repairman, who has promised that we will again have a fully functional instrument. Father Gilligan then meets with John Onofrio, head of the building committee, to go over numerous questions on the ongoing restoration.  John approves, for example, installation of a bar in the hall, donated by a local restaurant, now closed. Finally, at 3 p.m., Mike Ehlers comes from Gallagher Bassett Insurance; Mike makes an accounting of expenses that remain and confirms reimbursement for expenses recently incurred. 

[Sept. 7] Under the direction of Celeste Jones today, the choir resumes singing at Sunday Mass.  Remarkably, they sing four part music from memory, without the music in their hands.  The organ, too, seems to be working OK; Giersten has indeed arranged for its repair.

[Sept. 8] We celebrate the funeral of Paula Camilleri, 60 years old.  She is survived by her husband, Giacomo, and three sons.  Deacon Bob Bonta helps with prayer at Panozzo Funeral Home, preparation at the oratory,  and with the Mass itself.  He gives a eulogy after the opening prayer, proclaims the Gospel, incenses the people at the preparation of gifts, and helps with Communion.  He also does the committal at Assumption Cemetery.  Scripture texts are read by two nieces of Paula, Gia and Shelly.  The builiding is filled, with people standing in the back of church.

[Sunday, Sept. 14] The finance committee of San Rocco meets after Mass.  We look at the budget for this year, as well as part of the annual report. With a report from Fred LoBue, we  consider how the St. Anthony Hall is rented out.  Mike Prisco has been asked to install a replacement air conditioner, for the the unit that was stolen some time ago.

[Tuesday, Sept. 16] Father Gilligan sends out a phone message, inviting people to a birthday celebration next Saturday. 

[Saturday, Sept. 20] Today, Dolly Leli celebrates her 90th birthday, with an open house, at her home in Chicago Heights.  She is a lifelong member of the San Rocco community.  You are welcome to come and celebrate with her anytime between 3 and 7 p.m., today, Saturday, Sept. 20.   She has two sons, Bob and Dave, who are there too.  

[Oct. 20, 2008] For the second time, Mary Kay O'Connell visits, from the Parish Operations Service Center, of the Archdiocese of Chicago.  She reviews St. Rocco's setup of Quickbooks for the current fiscal year with the part-time secretary, Jeanine Zamiar.  Everything seems to be in order.  With Quickbooks, it will be easy to generate reports of all kinds, automatically.  The publisher of Quickbooks says you don't need an accountant anymore to do this kind of thing.  Your CPA, says Quickbooks, is then free to do what he or she does best: financial planning.

[Sunday, Oct. 26] Mass is at 11 a.m. today, to accommodate those who wish to go directly to the spaghetti dinner in the hall, beginning at noon.  This dinner is a great success, with people coming in all during the afternoon.  The food is excellent, home made.  Many volunteers spend the morning in the kitchen, laboring with skill and dedication.

[Wednesday, Oct. 29] We celebrate the funeral of Mike Novelli, father of Judy Panici.  A four-person military honor guard takes part in the committal, at Assumption Cemetery.  Mike went to Mt. Carmel School and was a significant member of the St. Rocco community; he was 88 years old.

[Monday, Nov. 3] At 11 a.m., the usual time, we celebrate the funeral of Jayleen Angelotti.  You will remember her from Sunday Mass, where she used a walker; she also received Communion only from the chalice.  While in flight on Oct. 28, returning from a visit to San Benedetto, Italy, she had a massive heart attack and died.   Jayleen was active at St. Rocco, on the finance advisory committee and on the building committee.  She also gave generously, to support music on special occasions, such as Christ the King, Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost. 

[Saturday, Nov. 8] At Infant Jesus of Prague Church, Flossmoor, Father Gilligan witnesses the wedding of Michelle Turechek and Chris Rodriguez.  Chris is the brother of Paul Rodriguez of San Rocco.

[Nov. 26] Dan Saenz of Giertsen Restoration Company comes with a crew, to mount the restored painting of the Ascending Christ.  The painting now hangs from the south wall of the church building.  Cost of restoration was $3,600, says Dan.  He also arranges for a workman to come in on Friday, Nov. 28, to shorten the platform under the presidential chair.  This work will make more space available in the sanctuary.  Dan also presents two checks to be signed, so that with both the Archdiocese of Chicago pays Giertsen $124,711.  In addition to endorsing these checks over to Giertsen, Father Gilligan also receives a bill from Giertsen for $12,034, for renovation expenses not covered by insurance. 

In the afternoon, Celeste Jones meets with Father Gilligan, to plan the music for the Advent and Christmas Seasons.  (During this time, Celeste will be directing the choir almost every Sunday.)  Marty Hesse and he had previously spent much time selecting contemporary arrangements, including fourteen settings by the well respected musician, John Rutter.  There is not much time available before Christmas for the choir to learn even a few of these arrangements.  Celeste hopes to have at least two rehearsals in December.

[Nov. 27] Thanksgiving Day Mass is celebrated at 9 a.m., at a time preferred by a vote of the people, taken last Sunday.  The vote was unanimous. 

[Nov. 30] At the end of Sunday Mass, Father Gilligan presents the required annual financial report to the people.   There are several positive developments.  For example, people have been contributing to our building fund; Quickbooks has been introduced  for all transactions;the Archdiocese has provided excellent help;  best practices have been implemented; checking accounts have been consolidated; funds were put in an interest-bearing CD; monthly assessments were reduced because of new property appraisals; insurance is providing compensation for losses;  and extraordinary donations have been received.   

[Dec. 2] Norm Matson comes and begins to install some new wooden cabinets, to accommodate storage needs at St. Rocco Oratory.  These cabinets are located in the sacristy and the washroom, at the south end of the church building.  In particular, John Onofrio asked for two new wardrobes for our vestments, replacing the two metal cabinets in the sacristy.

[Dec. 12] Father Gilligan meets with Kevin Marsalik, new director of finance for the Archdiocese of Chicago.  Last Friday, the diocesan offices  were moved from 155 East Superior to 835 Rush, in the former Quigley Seminary building.  For many years, this was the high school seminary of the Archdiocese of Chicago; it has been extensively renovated for its new purpose.

[Dec. 17] The last two cabinets are installed today, in the sacristy and the washroom, in the San Rocco church building.

[Dec. 19] Father Gilligan meets with Bishop Perry, for the annual report of pastors to their vicars.  This meeting takes place, as usual, at Seton Academy in South Holland.

[Dec. 25] For the Christmas Mass at 10 a.m., the choir is directed by Celeste Jones; their work, supported by two previous rehearsals, is excellent .  The celebration includes Gesu Bambino, with soloist (Rob Markionni) and full chorus; the choir also sings the Angels' Carol, by John Rutter.   For the Gospel procession, longer today, the choir sings the Madrigal Alleluia.  A new nativity scene is in place, in front of the statue of the Virgin Mary. At the announcement time at the end of Mass, Mayor Ciambrone reminds people that they are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the oratory.  Bishop Perry celebrated the first Mass here, on December 25, 2008.

[Monday, Dec. 29] At St. Anthony Church in Frankfort, the funeral Mass is celebrated at 11 a.m. for Dennis Nardoni II, grandson of Ann and the late Frank Nardoni.  Arrangements are by Panozzo Funeral Home. 

Jan. 10 Meeting: Dan Saenz, Paul Grossi, Michael Ehlers, and Tom D'Ambrosio
Jan. 10, 2008 meeting of Dan Saenz, Paul Grossi, Mike Ehlers, and Tom D'Ambrosio. Dan of Giersten Restoration is in charge of the contents of the building; Paul is local supervisor for Giersten. Michael Ehlers is from Gallagher Bassett Insurance. Tom is project manager for San Rocco.

Sanctuary of San Rocco church building, now gutted
Sanctuary of San Rocco church building, now gutted. The crucifix has been removed from the back wall.

Paul Grossi (center, with his back to us) goes over damage to the church
Jan. 18: Here, Paul Grossi of Giersten (with his back to us, in the center) goes over necessary renovation in detail. On the left is Rick Giersten, owner of the restoration company. To the right is Dan Saenz, contents specialist, Paul Grossi, then Chris Poulin and Michael Ehlers, both of Gallagher Bassett.

Meeting in St. Anthony Hall
Here, to get out of the smoke-smelling church building, the group gathers across the parking lot, in the St. Anthony Hall. From the left are Father Gilligan, Michael Ehlers, Chris Poulin, and Rick Giersten.

Here is the new ductwork, ready to be installed.
Here is some of the new ductwork, ready to be installed.

scaffolding in the sanctuary
Scaffolding is set up in the sanctuary.

New ductwork is installed in the ceiling.
Note that the drywall of the ceiling has been removed; new ductwork has been installed.

Confessional, shrouded
The confessional ("reconciliation room") is shrouded, for its protection.

Pews are stored in temporary trailers
The pews, damaged by smoke, are stored in temporary trailers, in the parking lot.

Lee Hahn of Hahn & Coe
Here, Lee Hahn of Hahn & Coe (Chicago Heights) is at work, restoring the sound system for San Rocco Oratory.

San Rocco Oratory

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