After writing my previous post on my unexpected devotion to the Holy Apostle Jude Thaddeus, my brother Julian got in touch. He said that there was something that I probably didn’t know, and that is that St Jude’s Cancer Hospital was founded by Antiochian Christians. I asked him whether he knew if the Antiochians were acting on their own, or in relation to the American Catholic campaign in the Latin Church in the middle of the twentieth century to make the devotion to St Jude a thing among middle-class Catholic suburbanites. He said he didn’t know.
Soon, I received a treasure trove of screenshots from him, and by this, everyone should know that this brother of mine is a journalist who does his homework. What I will say will reveal the learning curve that I still have to undergo in my knowledge of Catholic culture, mostly because of my evangelical upbringing. Apparently, the guy who built St Jude’s Hospital was named Danny Thomas. The story goes that in the 1950s, he prayed before the statue of St Jude in Chicago at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, which was the parish that housed the Chicago devotion, and his career soon took off. When he was famous enough, he used the money he made to build St Jude’s Hospital.Thomas was Maronite. That means he’s one of us, in an Eastern Catholic church. I also heard that the Antiochian Orthodox are major donors to the hospital too. In many ways, that’s all there is to it; it doesn’t mean much, for example, that we in the Kyivan Church are trying to start a south side mission for social justice as well. But it is nice to see that there are fellow Eastern Catholics and Orthodox who share my devotion to St Jude, even though our approach to him is quite different. It’s not a matter of identity. It’s just a little less lonely. Danny Thomas did call the place ‘Jude’s Chicago.’ It’s nice that we all know and love the same guy around here.
Also, it’s a little cool that it’s a homegrown Chicago devotion for our sisters and brothers in the Latin Church, as well as among the latinized. I will have to sit on that for a bit. Tonight, I told members of my mission what I had learned about the origins of the devotion. They had no idea. I thought that was great. It means that our communion with Rome has never been premised on our latinization.