The Blessed Mother Statue Honoring Victims of the Tragic 1958 School Fire Returns to Our Lady of the Angels on Tuesday, May 31, 2022 with a Lights and Sirens Procession from the Chicago Fire Department
Chicago - (May 27, 2022) – The Blessed Mother statue, honoring the 95 victims and hundreds injured in the tragic Dec. 1, 1958 fire at Our Lady of the Angels (OLA) School, will return to OLA’s newly renovated Outreach Center on Tuesday, May 31, 2022. Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, will offer remarks and bless the statue during a 1:30 p.m. ceremony. The Outreach Center is housed on the grounds of the former school building at 3814 W. Iowa St. in Chicago.
“We are grateful that the former school at Our Lady of the Angels has been renovated and is now ready to be the permanent home of the memorial statue," said Auxiliary Bishop Robert Lombardo, founder and director of Mission OLA.
The statue was placed in the Church of the Holy Family because of a special relationship the church has had with members of the Chicago Fire Department dating to the 19th century. The statue will be moved from Church of the Holy Family on Roosevelt Road starting at 11:30 a.m. Firemen from the Chicago Fire Department will safely attach the statue to the front of a fire truck. Bishop Lombardo will offer a brief prayer and blessing before the fire truck departs Church of the Holy Family at approximately 12:30 p.m. Additional fire trucks will be part of a lights and sirens procession from Church of the Holy Family to Mission OLA where firemen will safely move the statue into the Outreach Center lobby.
Guests will include Sister LaDonna Manternach, BVM, president of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) religious order, BVM religious sisters, survivors of the fire, families of victims and representatives from CFD.
The OLA tragedy stunned the nation and caused revisions of school fire codes across the country. The Blessed Mother statue was created as a permanent memorial for the rebuilt school building honoring the 92 children and three BVM sisters who died in the fire along with hundreds of children and adults who were injured. The names of the deceased are engraved on the statue’s marble base, which was donated by the 1999 OLA class. The statue was moved to Church of the Holy Family in 1999 when the OLA Parish School closed. Church of the Holy Family President Fr. Lukas Laniauskas, SJ, stated “how privileged we have been these past two decades to display the statue, pray for the victims and celebrate Mass on the anniversary of the tragedy, in our Church. Her return marks another chapter in the rebirth of Mission OLA.”
The Franciscans at Mission OLA have provided a Catholic presence in West Humboldt Park, one of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, since Sept. 1, 2010. The Mission’s renovated Outreach Center includes a weekly food pantry that serves more than 3,000 families each month, a retreat center, and offices and classrooms for programs benefiting residents of West Humboldt Park. With the renovation complete, Mission OLA is able to expand its greatly needed outreach services to the local community.Church of the Holy Family is Chicago's second oldest Catholic church, one of five buildings that survived the Great Chicago Fire. It has served Chicago's West Side and Saint Ignatius College Prep since 1857.