Publicado por: Ricardo Shimosakai | 09/11/2012

New elevator expands Notre Dame de Chicago accessibility


Full accessibility now is part of Notre Dame de Chicago’s hospitality. Having completed its elevator addition on the west side of the historic church at 1334 W. Flournoy St. in July, Notre Dame now sees many visitors and elderly people taking full advantage of the modern convenience.

“Every time I see a parishioner struggling to walk or using a walker, I’m grateful for the elevator,” said the Rev. Monsignor Patrick Pollard, Notre Dame’s pastor. “In fact, just this past weekend, one parishioner grabbed my arm and said, ‘Thank you—I really need this.’”

The elevator, tastefully blended into the structure using blond brick and offering easy entry from the church’s parking lot, provides direct access to the church’s beautiful and inspiring sanctuary and parish hall. An increasing number of people are using it for each of the church’s four weekend masses.

The elevator makes for easy access for families and the elderly for weddings and funeral Masses. Access is additionally increased because of handicapped-only parking spaces in the lot.

In honor of Inclusion Awareness Day, Notre Dame will bless its elevator addition at all Masses on Saturday, Oct. 13, and Sunday, Oct. 14.

Built in 1887 by French Canadian immigrants, Notre Dame de Chicago exhibits classic architecture and artwork professionally restored. Included in the more than $2 million renovations over the past ten years are stained glass windows and, in the church’s 90- foot rotunda, a mural telling the creation story and the founding of Chicago.

Previous fundraising campaigns helped replace the slate roof, added new mortar between bricks, upgraded lighting, and introduced a new sound system.

These renovations have enhanced the church’s community life, which includes many social service programs and Asian, Latino, music, and arts groups.

“The elevator project is truly interesting” and rather unusual, said Joe Bosco, the parishioner who served as project liaison between the parish and builders. “Cutting a hole in the wall of a building that is 125 years old at a site three feet from a major stained-glass window is no easy task.”

Bosco explained that the builders first added a concrete foundation below the church’s existing one to make sure the wall could withstand construction; then they created a separate foundation for the addition. Also, they designed the elevator to accommodate funeral caskets and enlarged the foyer to act as an area of rescue and safety for the handicapped in the event of emergency.

Also, introducing a high-tech attachment to the vintage building’s boiler system allowed the foyer and church-level landing to have radiant heat. The builder also included outside electrical outlets for activities such as festivals in the parking lot.

“When the ordinary person walks in the elevator and pushes the button, they have no idea what has gone into making this project complete.” Bosco said.

To date, $66,000 remains unpaid from the $483,000 construction project, and the church is struggling to pay the $586 per month interest on the loan provided by the Archdiocese of Chicago. Notre Dame’s elevator capital campaign will continue until all costs are paid in full.

“We want to get that paid off as soon as possible so we don’t have to pay interest,” Monsignor Pollard said. He noted that if only 66 parishioners, friends, neighbors, or supporters each contributed $1,000, the loan could be paid in full. “We’re going to make a real effort to have it paid off before Christmas,” he said.

“This project happened because a whole lot of people donated a whole lot of money,” Bosco said. Every donor who makes a gift of $6,600 or more over a two-year period will cover one month of the loan repayment to the Archdiocese.

For more information or to make a donation to the Campaign for Access, contact Notre Dame de Chicago Parish at (312) 243-7400 or nddechgo@aol.com.

Source: Gazette Chicago


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