By Erin Shea Smith
At five o’clock Christmas morning 1924, Father Timothy Hurley celebrated the first Mass of St. Barnabas Church. Now, 95 years later, the church is gathering to honor and commemorate those who devoted their time, talent and treasure to the Catholic community.
The Cheers to 95 Year Gala, taking place Sat., Feb. 9, 6 p.m. to midnight at the Bridgeport Art Center, will benefit the “Imagine. Innovate. Inspire.” Capital Campaign efforts as St. Barnabas moves forward into its second century of service. The evening will include dinner, drinks and dancing, and feature music from Maggie Speaks.
A highlight of the event will be the announcement of the winner of free tuition for one student for the 2019-2020 school year. Tickets are $100 each and are available now.
St. Barnabas has three phases planned for “Imagine, Innovate, Inspire,” which will continue into 2030 and cost about $17 million for improvements throughout the campus. The project is part of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s “To Teach Who Christ Is” campaign, which has a goal of $350 million. Several parishes are part of that effort, which calls for donations to be used for parish improvements and archdiocesan needs.
In addition to raising money for the campaign, the Gala will feature an auction and raffle, which will include items such as Chicago sporting events, a Lake Michigan sailboat ride, a stay at a mountain home in Lake Tahoe, an in-home dinner party with an executive chef and more.
In the years leading up to the first Mass at St. Barnabas, Fr. Hurley was prevented from breaking ground on the site chosen for the new church. Neighborhood residents had successfully petitioned the city to turn the land into a park, now known as Hurley Park. Undaunted, Hurley authorized the purchase of a parcel of land where the current church sits.
“The people of St. Barnabas are called to renew and nurture our close community of faith and are joyfully challenged to strive to recognize the grace of God at work in our daily lives,” said pastor Fr. Jim Donovan in a letter announcing the event. “We are grateful for the support we’ve received from those working alongside us as a powerful force for good in our neighborhood and city.”
Gala tickets are $150 a person, as well as $75 for Young Alum (after 9 p.m. for drinks and dancing) and $75 for St. Barnabas staff. Sponsorships and tables are still available. Cocktail attire is required.