“If anyone wishes to come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me (Lk 9:23).”
In 2005, Fr. Bob Lombardo came to Chicago in response to the invitation of His Eminence Francis Cardinal George. The Cardinal wanted Fr. Bob to start a mission to serve the poor, evangelize and maintain a Catholic presence in one of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods. The site chosen was known nationally for a tragic school fire which claimed the lives of 92 children and three Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 1, 1958 at Our Lady of the Angels School.
Since the fire, the neighborhood surrounding the parish had rapidly declined. When Fr. Bob arrived in 2005 it was one of the most desperate, needy neighborhoods in Chicago, known for tremendous poverty, gang violence and drug trafficking. The Cardinal in his wisdom wanted Fr. Bob to establish a Mission at the former Our Lady of the Angels parish not only because of the history and the need, but also to let the neighborhood know that the Church had not forgotten the poor.
When Fr. Bob arrived in Chicago, all of the buildings at Our Lady of the Angles were in great disrepair. With the support of countless individuals, companies and organizations, these buildings were renovated to excellent condition. We are very grateful to all those who have assisted through their prayer, time, talent and treasures to rebuild Our Lady of the Angels. To learn more about how all this happened, please visit the Mission of Our Lady of the Angles website by clicking here.
As Fr. Bob began to network and rally support for the Mission, many young adults were attracted to come serve at Our Lady of the Angels. Among these young people were men and women interested in religious life who desired simplicity and prayer, serving the poor and spreading the message of the Gospel. Fr. Bob encouraged them to visit other communities which carried out these works, but some of them were still attracted back to Our Lady of the Angels. With Cardinal George’s blessing and the blessing of his own community Fr. Bob began a discernment group for these young people. This group met regularly on the first Friday of each month for a Holy Hour, dinner and discussion about discernment and Franciscan life. They would stay overnight at the Mission and participate in Mass the following morning. Following Mass they would assist with the first Saturday Mobile Food Pantry, serving around 250 families each month.
In August 2009, Cardinal George approved a live-in discernment community to begin at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels. Three young adults moved in at that time and Fr. Bob continued to lead and direct this group. They maintained their regular jobs while participating in communal holy hours, Mass and meals each day, as well as ongoing service to the poor. The discernment community flourished, and it was clear that the Lord was inspiring a new Franciscan community in Chicago to serve the poor, carry out the work of evangelization and teaching, and have a life centered around the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The community also would witness to the complementarity of men and women (inspired by Bl. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body) by a strong commitment to the sisters and friars working together.
With a decree of September 1, 2010, Cardinal George canonically (according to Church Law) established the Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago. Two members, Sr. Kate and Sr. Alicia, began the novitiate on October 4, 2010. The following October 4, 2011, Sr. Stephanie began the novitiate. On October 13, 2012 Sr. Kate and Sr. Alicia professed First Vows, and on September 21, 2013 Sr. Stephanie professed First Vows. On October 4, 2013, Sr. Jaime entered the novitiate, and on September 8, 2014, Sr. Jess became a novice.
We are very blessed to have Fr. Bob Lombardo as our founder and superior. As a founding member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Fr. Bob has over 30 years of experience in religious life. We are most grateful to the Lord for His tremendous providence and look forward to all the good things He has in store for our community in the years to come, always keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, following Him in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him . . . the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you . . . For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink . . .’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? . . . ’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me (Matt 25:32-40).’”