Breaking Ground

Three months later, on a sunny November day in 1936, the Claretians broke ground for the new seminary. As the St. Jude community recorded that day: “The ground was blessed and broken by his Excellency Bishop Preciado. Several pictures were taken both right after their arrival by the Grotto of St. Jude, and on the moment of the blessing and breaking of grounds.” Just behind the Bishop, the bespectacled John Stege, Captain of the Chicago Police Department and a major supporter of the seminary, stood upright, cupping his shovel. To the right, Fr. Ellacuria, in a cassock topped with a lacey, white surplice, and Fr. Catalina in a suit and collar, held their shovels. Seventeen boys, St. Jude students in their smart dark suits, filled out the group. The dried corn stalks of Fall’s harvest behind them, the Spanish-origin Claretians put down roots in the Illinois prairie. Next summer a three-story seminary welcomed a new, expanded group of boys, of whom some would become home-grown, American Claretian priests.

Deborah E. Kanter wrote Chicago Cátolico: Making Catholic Parishes Mexican (University of Illinois Press, 2020). Her current research focuses on the Claretian Missionaries in the US and the creation of a national Latino ministry, 1902-2020. 
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