Immaculate Heart of Mary

There is this little Mexican church built in the Spanish Mission style in the Back of the Yards on the corner of 45th and Ashland. When I didn’t attend mass at Holy Cross Church, I went to Immaculate Heart of Mary where all the massses were in Spanish instead of Latin. I liked following the prayers in Spanish in the missal. I always wanted to learn Spanish formally, but this was as close as I got. There used to be a rectory right on the corner when I was little, but it’s gone now. They added an addition to the back of the church where they put a baptismal font and my sister Delia and brother Joseph were baptized there. That was the only church that I saw at that time that had a crying room for the children in the back of all the pews. We never went in the crying room even though we belonged there on some Sundays because of our behavior. Sometimes my brothers and I would start poking in each other behind my father’s back, and slowly intensify our physical agression until my father would scold us and finally hit us. And if we still continued, my father wouldn’t threaten to really hit us when we returned home. Of course, my father never hit us for anything, but he was a very devout Catholic and he thought we should listen to mass with our undivided attention. So once he threatened to hit us, he would follow through with it once we returned home. We really dreaded the trip home knowing our father would hit us. They had a social center in the middle of the block where we would sometimes go after school to play boardgames and basketball. I was an altar boy at Holy Cross Church, but not at Immaculate Heart. When a friend of the family got married, she asked the pastor of Immaculate Heart if my brother Tato and I could be her altar boys. This was the first time that we served in another church, but somehow we managed to wing it. My favorite part about this parish was their annual carnival. Not so much because of the rides, but because of the Mexican food that they served. I went to the carnival every year, for every day of the carnival. My favorite drink there was atole. I just loved drinking it. And when I had drunk too much, I would stand next to stand that sold it and just inhale deeply so I could continue enjoying this atole.

¡Les voy a pegar!

4 thoughts on “Immaculate Heart of Mary

  1. Maribel,
    I haven’t gone to the capilla in years. However, I drive past it Tuesdays through Fridays on my way to UIC. Usually there are one or two Mexicans with their carts selling tamales in the morning regardless of the weather. I get nostalgic every time I drive by. That’s why I wrote this blog entry. I remember my brother Joseph’s baptism there in 1968, but I don’t remember the priest’s name. I do remember that my tío Román was his godfather and did the bolero after the baptism. Joseph was named after my uncle Joseph, there was already a José in my father’s family, who died in Viet Nam the previous April. One of these days, I’ll take a picture of the capilla and post it here.

  2. I went to la capilla to 8:00 a.m. mass. I can’t believe that Fr. George Ruffalo is still saying mass. He baptized me in 1965. Today I looked at that baptismal font and thought about how many kids have also been brought into the church. I kept thinking about your blog when I watched all the Guadalupanas in the procession. I don’t know their names but I know there faces. Some still wear veils on their heads. Many of them were at those carnivals selling tamales in the courtyard next to the church hall. My childhood was their youth. And now my adulthood is their old age……Many of those women married there and baptized their children there and will one day celebrate their funerals……….the whole circle of life. I guess I am looking at my life in different ways.

  3. Of course, I remember those carnivals! We went every summer and stayed until they closed. I remember the traffic lights on 45th and Ashland flashing yellow on Ashland and red on 45th Street when we walked home around midnight. That was a great place to meet all our family and friends.

  4. I justed wanted to tell you how nostalgic your blog is. I found it “accidently.” I’m conducting research on the Back of the Yards for my dissertation. It was touching to read about Back of the Yards and the capilla. I still attend the parish with my mom. You look vaguely familiar. I will be reading and responding to your writings. It’s good to know that I found a “kindred” spirit that appreciates and values the traditions that make us who we are………Do you remember those carnivals?

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