Controversial Mission Goes To Court

Families Of Members Searching For Answers

WMAQ TV Chicago/January 27, 2006

Chicago -- City inspectors this week finally got inside a controversial mission that had billed itself as Catholic, although the church has severed ties.

It was the first time outsiders entered the Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission on the city's Northwest Side. City inspectors and Chicago police officers were allowed to enter the mission's headquarters on West Diversey after a court-ordered inspection.

John Kyltta, an attorney for the mission, said privacy issues concerning the mission would be brought up in court.

"The inspection went well," he said.

But NBC5's Mary Ann Ahem reported that Kyltta was upset that inspectors looked in closets and opened refrigerators in an effort to determine if people live, work or hold church services in the building.

"It's not zoned for a church unless you get a special use permit, and it's not zoned for a community center unless you get a special use permit, " said Chris Murray, an attorney for the city. "They have neither."

The alderman in whose district the mission sits has his own issues with Love Holy Trinity.

"I don't feel that the folks at the Holy Trinity have been as forthcoming as I had hoped they would be," Alderman Willam Banks said.

In December, Cardinal Francis George suspended the Rev. Len Kruzel, the Chicago priest who had been assigned to work with the mission.

Questions were raised after the family of a member, Ashley Fahey, was cut off from her when she joined the mission in August. A recent high school graduate, Fahey had planned to go to college, but instead chose to join the mission.

The families of several members have asked questions about why there is so much secrecy surrounding the group.

Donna Backstrom has family who are members of the mission.

"The point is they are brainwashed," Backstrom said. "My niece thinks she's in a convent, that she's becoming a nun. And of course, that's not true."

The mission's representatives are scheduled to appear in court again April 7.

For those with family members in Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission, that day in April will be one more chance for them to find out what the mission is all about, Ahern reported.

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