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Nun: Strip club ‘goes against every fiber of our beings’



Sister NoemiSilvaddresses gathering after Missionary Sisters Saint Charles Borromeo Scalabrinians neighbors marched Club Allure Chicago strip club protest its proximity

Sister Noemia Silva addresses the gathering after the Missionary Sisters of Saint Charles Borromeo Scalabrinians and neighbors marched to Club Allure Chicago, a strip club, to protest its proximity to their convent. | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

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Updated: July 21, 2014 3:16PM

As a platinum blonde with come-hither eyes stared down from an overhead billboard, a woman in a black-and-white habit, sensible shoes and a crucifix dangling from a chain around her neck declared war.

“Allure devalues and degrades our communities,” said Sister Noemia Silva Wednesday afternoon. “It goes against every fiber of our beings and tears up the fabric of the whole community.”

Moments before Silva and her fellow sisters set off for the short protest march from their Melrose Park convent to the neighboring Club Allure Chicago — a strip joint — Silva had prayed that their mission would not end in violence.

The nuns and their supporters — who earlier this week filed suit, seeking to have the strip club shut down — needn’t have worried. The club’s parking lot was all but empty, and the club’s managing partner, Sean O’Brien, was more interested in talking about the venue’s “unbelievable” teriyaki glazed salmon than starting a fight.

“I completely understand why they have a moral issue with us,” O’Brien said. “But at the end of the day, we are respectful neighbors and we’ve spent a lot of money making sure our neighbors wouldn’t be affected by our business.”

Not so, say the nuns, who complain about blinding lights, screaming patrons and the maddening “thwomp, thwomp, thwomp” of the music that comes from inside the club.

More than that, lawyers for the nuns say, the club is violating Illinois’ zoning law, which mandates a 1,000-foot buffer zone between adult entertainment facilities and any place of worship and school.

But what of the notion that Jesus Christ happily lived among sinners and his followers should do likewise?

“We’re supposed to love the sinner, but not the sin,” Silva said.

Besides, say the nuns, some of the retired sisters at the convent are in their 90s and would like a little peace and quiet — like Eulalia Tonett, 91.

On Wednesday, as she tended to some tomato plants in a garden in the shadow of the strip club, she said, most definitely, it needs to go.

“That kind of house is no good,” she said, grimacing.

On the other hand, she said, when she takes her hearing aids out at night, she can’t hear anything.

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