The Sisters of Saint Charles Borromeo Scalabrinians and community members hold a candlelight vigil outside Allure Gentleman's Club June 27, 2014. | Curtis Lehmkuhl/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 29, 2014 6:22AM
Visitors to a west suburban strip joint Friday night were confronted by an unusual sight — a group of nuns and their supporters holding candles and rosaries.
The Sisters of St. Charles led a 30-minute prayer vigil outside Club Allure Chicago to protest the club’s operation next to their convent.
The club opened in September in Stone Park on Lake Street near Mannheim Road, and the rear of it’s gaudily lit building backs up to the nuns’ convent grounds in neighboring Melrose Park.
This was the second Friday night the nuns and their supporters stood vigil outside the club.
“The community has courageously come together again to send a message that the children and families of Stone Park deserve to be respected and deserve a safe community,” said Sister Noemi Silva. She pointed out that before the club opened two years ago, Stone Park, a town of less than 5,000, already had five strip clubs.
Since the club opened next to the convent, the nuns have had to put up with “public violence, drunkenness and litter, including … empty whiskey and beer bottles, discarded contraceptive packages and products and even used condoms evidencing illicit sexual misbehavior either in the club or about its environs,” according to a suit filed earlier this month by the Sisters of St. Charles and the town of Melrose Park.
The suit also charges that the club and the village of Stone Park violated Illinois zoning law, which requires a 1,000-foot buffer between adult entertainment facilities and schools or places of worship. The sisters’ property includes three chapels.
“The case and the issues are clear,” the nuns’ attorney, Tom Brejcha told the crowd of about 25 before they marched from the convent to the club. “The law is on the books and it has been ignored.”
Luis Accosta, a nearby resident and parent, said he fears for the safety of his children. “There are families here that care for their kids and this club is not a place for people who care about their kids.
No patrons drove into the club’s lot during the first minutes of the vigil. Ashley Moy-Hooten of the West Suburban Action Project, said that last week only one patron entered during the vigil. “He said he was lonely,” Moy-Hooten said.
Club representatives could not be reached, but last week one of the club’s partners, Sean O’Brien, told the Sun-Times, “We are respectful neighbors and we’ve spent a lot of money making sure our neighbors wouldn’t be affected by our business.”