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Old St. Patrick's: A Chicago Renaissance Story

Award-winning local filmmaker Mike Leonard and Picture Show Films reveal how
a struggling Chicago church reinvented itself and revitalized a declining neighborhood

For immediate release
Chicago, IL - July 31, 2014

WTTW11 premiere: Thursday, August 21 at 7:30 pm

WTTW11, the Midwest’s premier public television station, will premiere a new 60-minute documentary, Old St. Patrick’s Church: A Chicago Renaissance Story, on Thursday, August 21 at 7:30 pm.  The film, co-produced by Emmy-winning television correspondent and filmmaker Mike Leonard and Picture Show Films (The Ride of Our Lives), tells the story of how visionary leaders transformed the landmark Old St. Patrick’s Church from an empty church in a declining neighborhood into a Chicago hub of worship, culture, social life, education, and service.  Old St. Patrick’s renaissance revitalized a then-struggling West Loop. The ongoing local vitality and global impact of this small urban church reveal the power of inspiration and imagination.

Through archival footage, striking images, and firsthand accounts, Old St. Patrick’s Church: A Chicago Renaissance Story reveals how Fr. Jack Wall and Fr. John Cusick realized their dream of reviving the church. We meet Old St. Pat’s current pastor, Fr. Tom Hurley, who now inspires and leads its still-growing membership. The film traces the history of Old St. Pat’s and its connection to the Irish immigrant story in Chicago, explores the church’s architecture and artistic restoration under Fr. Wall, features people forever changed by the church’s message of service and inclusion, and shows the groundbreaking nature of opening a new school in a formerly “Skid Row” neighborhood.  And of course, the film touches on the audacity of marketing a World’s Largest Block Party when the church and neighborhood stood empty.

“Old St. Patrick’s is a collection of important small stories that when woven together tell a great story about how a city is transformed,” said Mike Leonard.  “The power of St. Pat’s is what happens outside the building,” he added.

Old St. Patrick’s Church: A Chicago Renaissance Story.  A Leonard Films/Picture Show Production.  Original musical score by John Williams.  More information about this program can be found at

About Mike Leonard/Leonard Films

Acclaimed filmmaker, NBC-TV Correspondent, and New York Times best-selling author Mike Leonard also produced the popular public television series The Ride of Our Lives. Mike and co-producer Mary Kay Wall are currently working with Picture Show on a new series about life, InCommon, premiering this October on WTTW.

About WTTW

WTTW is a premier public media organization committed to creating and presenting unique television and digital media content across four distinct television channels – WTTW11, WTTW Prime, the Spanish-language channel WTTW Vme, and WTTW Create/WTTW WORLD, and on Recognized for award-winning local and national productions such as Chicago Tonight, Check, Please!, and MEXICO – One Plate at a Time, WTTW presents the very best in cultural, nature, science, public affairs, and children’s programming to almost 2 million weekly viewers across a four state area. WTTW is unique in its commitment to serving the children in our community, with half of its weekday broadcast schedule devoted to educational and non-commercial content. Visitors to can connect with others in the community and access a full library of local and national video content for kids and adults, interactive features, event and membership opportunities, and robust microsites dedicated to WTTW and PBS series and specials.