History of the Claretians and the National Shrine of St. Jude
The National Shrine of Saint Jude was founded on its present site by a Claretian missionary, the late Father James Tort, C.M.F., pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. Many of Tort’s parishioners were laborers in the nearby steel mills, which were drastically cutting back their work forces early in 1929. Tort surveyed the bleak situation in his parish of blue-collar workers, more than 90 percent of whom were without paychecks and in difficult financial straits.
Tort was devoted to Saint Jude Thaddeus, who was relatively unknown to the general Catholic population at that time. Night after night, however, Tort persevered in his prayers to Saint Jude, asking his intercession and promising to erect a shrine in the saint's honor if the church could be finished. In an effort to lift the spirits of his parishioners, Tort began regular devotions to Saint Jude. The first novena honoring the saint was held on Feb. 17, 1929.
The congregation at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church showed such great response to the devotion to Saint Jude that an overflow crowd attended services on the final night of a solemn novena that ended on the saint's feast day, Oct. 28, 1929. More than 1000 people stood outside the church to hear the service.
Word of the devotions to Saint Jude gradually spread from that tiny corner of Chicago to other parts of the country. During the Depression of the 1930s and during World War II, thousands of men, women, and children attended novenas at the shrine; and devotion to the patron saint of desperate causes spread throughout the country.
To this day, the letters that pour into the National Shrine provide inspiring testimony to the desire of the faithful to unite themselves with God through prayers to Saint Jude. The late Father Joachim DePrada, C.M.F., one of the successors to Father Tort as director of the National Shrine, once commented:
"The continued interest in Saint Jude indicates the hand of Providence at work. The change that Saint Jude has wrought in the spiritual lives of many thousands of persons substantiates this belief."
Claretian Ministries include:
St. Jude Devotion
National Shrine of St. Jude
St. Jude League
South Chicago Art Center
Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza -
Young Adult Ministry
Catholic Campus Ministry Center -
U.S. Catholic, At Home with our Faith, Context,
El Momento Católico, In Good Faith/
De Buena Fe, Nuestra Parroquia, ¡OYE!,
Holy Cross/IHM - Chicago
Our Lady of Guadalupe - Chicago
Corpus Christi - Stone Mountain, Ga.
Our Lady of Fatima - Perth Amboy, N.J.