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To see the website that extensively documented the renovation projects and the first years of outreach at Mission OLA, please go HERE.

The Franciscans at the Mission of Our Lady of the Angels are honored to live and serve at the site of the 1958 Our Lady of the Angels school fire. The Franciscans pray daily for the repose of the souls of those who died and for those who are still affected by aftermath of the tragedy. Bishop Bob spearheaded the effort to erect an on-site outside memorial for the victims of the tragedy, which was blessed by Cardinal George in 2007. The memorial is on the front lawn of the rectory, where the bodies of those who died were first laid when taken from the building. In May 2022, we were able to bring the original on-site memorial home. The original memorial was temporarily housed at Church of the Holy Family on Roosevelt since OLA school closed as a Catholic school in 1999. Coverage of the memorials’ return can be seen HERE.

The Cardinal selected Our Lady of the Angels as the site of this new mission for several reasons: 

As a historical side note, almost 800 years ago, St. Francis of Assisi founded the Franciscan Order in a little chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Angels. We consider it a unique blessing and strong reminder of our Franciscan heritage that this new Mission as well as the subsequently founded religious community of the Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago (established in 2010 under Cardinal George) both came to life at another site under the patronage of Our Lady of the Angels. The first soon-to-be Franciscans of the Eucharist moved into the rectory building in 2009, and since that time, Bishop Bob has had an in-house team of Franciscans to assist at the mission.
Upon Bishop Bob’s arrival in Chicago, the buildings were a disaster, filled with garbage, water, and general decay, and so Bishop Bob’s first step was to undertake a massive renovation project to get the buildings in working order.

Bishop Bob's courage to begin was the first of an impressive series of miracles that contributed to the renovations at Mission of Our Lady of the Angels. Working through Bishop Bob’s many personal and administrative gifts as well the generosity of so many, God, in His providence, has continued to provide thousands of volunteers, significant donations of material goods, and thousands of dollars in direct donations to support our work of rehabilitating these buildings to be used for the mission of the Church. We are indebted to all who have given and continue to give their time, talents, and treasure to these projects. The Franciscans of the Eucharist pray daily for all those who have been involved in any way with all of our construction projects. To learn more about our completed and ongoing construction projects, please visit the pages below, which provide a sampling of “BEFORE” and “AFTER” pictures along with descriptions of each project:

Please contact us HERE ( if you would like to thank those who worked so hard on our buildings by hiring them for your own construction project.

At the same time that construction began in 2005, Bishop Bob simultaneously began establishing outreach in the neighborhood. He assessed the needs of the neighborhood simply by walking around and talking with the neighbors. Healthy food, safe havens for kids, and senior citizen programming were identified as the greatest areas of need.

Outreach to the neighborhood first began through Kelly Hall, the former parish social hall. Providentially, on his flight to Chicago, Bishop Bob was seated next to a fellow Notre Dame graduate.  Though they did not know each other, they struck up a conversation, and that conversation was the beginning of a partnership between the Archdiocese, the YMCA of Metro Chicago, and the Greater Chicago Food Depository. This partnership is responsible for the renovation and continued smooth operation of Kelly Hall, now operational as an official YMCA. We are very grateful for this partnership and for all of the programs under its direction, all of which are a tremendous help to our neighbors in need. As discussed more on the Kelly Hall page, our afterschool programming, family programing and monthly mobile food pantry all function out of Kelly Hall. BishopBob was simultaneously renovating the rectory so he would have somewhere to live.

VolunteersThe next building ready for use was the convent building, initially renovated to house retreatants and volunteers. The building housed its first over-night service group in spring 2010. Since that time, a steady stream of service groups and retreat groups has followed. Over the years these groups have helped us with construction projects, caring for and maintaining the Mission’s buildings, Kelly Hall’s afterschool program and summer camp, our food and clothing pantries, our senior citizens’ program, summer Bible camp, and special events. In 2017, the Franciscans of the Eucharist had grown to the point that they were able to move back into the convent, restoring the original intended-use of the building. Service groups, volunteers, and retreatants now stay in the 57-bedroom retreat center in the school (outreach center) and in 851 N. Avers.

Outreach in the church building began in the summer of 2012 with a summer Bible camp for neighborhood children. Since May 2013, the church has also been used to host our community dinner program for neighborhood families. Our use of the church building has steadily increased overtime. During the school year, we typically use either the main church or the church basement at least one a week for a retreat group or to host a community dinner for the neighborhood.

851 N. Avers, a property adjacent to the convent building that had gone into foreclosure, was obtained for the Mission in summer 2014. The building was miraculously completely renovated over the course of only several months to be used for volunteer and retreatant housing. 851 N. Avers hosted its first group of volunteers in early 2016.

Bible CampThe former OLA school building officially became part of the Mission in summer 2017. Difficulties in permitting delayed a significant portion of the renovations until 2020-2022. The former school was dedicated as our new outreach center in October 2022. The former school is now the center of our material outreach to the poor, cooking, and volunteer/ retreat work. The building houses our indoor Tuesday food pantry, extensive donation storage, a dining room/ industrial kitchen, chapel (to soon be used for Perpetual Adoration), a 57-bedroom retreat center, and extensive multipurpose space for those on retreat AND for additional social service work. The providential timing of the renovation of this space prepared us for the very necessary, dramatic expansion of our food pantry during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now one of the biggest food pantries in Chicago.

As our outreach continues to improve and expand, we continue to thank God for the tremendous blessings that He has provided to make our work possible.