Problems remained, as did impressions that the parish was insular. In 1971, the school closed its doors because of lack of enrollment. In 1976, Fr. Dougherty asked to be relieved of his pastoral duties. After a team of Jesuits met with parishioners, they sent recommendations to the Archdiocese about Corpus Christi, based on their years of staffing the parish and parishioner input. There were frustrations on all sides – parishioners, Jesuits, and Archdiocese. The Jesuits felt that the Archdiocese needed to make a decision as to whether Corpus Christi should be a parochial ministry or a specialized one: if the former, the Archdiocese would resume staffing, if the latter, the Jesuits would retain staffing.
Later that year, the Archdiocese decided to resume staffing the parish; Rev. Frank Callahan and Rev. John Sewell were assigned as “team ministers.” They had worked together previously, and Rev. Callahan had actually volunteered for the Corpus Christi assignment. But both men had to be shocked when, on their first weekend, the collection was $129 (total), with an attendance of 150. There were fewer than 400 parishioners and almost no children. Hence, there was no education program for children or teens. There were very few functioning programs at all. The parish received financial support (“subsidy”) from the Archdiocese just to survive.
The priests became well-known in the neighborhood, enlisting people to serve the ill, elderly, and poor. A community center was established in nearby Reservoir Hill. Parish organizations became re-vitalized. The parish hosted community events, seminars, and educational series (especially about social justice issues) at its school; concerts in the church; and MICA’s 1978 graduation in the church. In 1979, the parish held its first annual garden party.
Because the church was in very poor condition, Rev. Callahan contacted members of the Jenkins family to become involved in renovating and repairing the church built in honor of their family. T. Courtney Jenkins took the lead in founding the Corpus Christi-Jenkins Memorial Historical Trust in 1978; in 1979, the Trust launched a restoration campaign that was very successful.
The energetic and exuberant Rev. Callahan lived in the rectory, and neighborhood residents came to know him so well that he eventually became an officer in the Bolton Hill Neighborhood Association. It was a time of new life.Go Back