On the heels of the recent news that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago could close as many as 100 churches over the next 15 years, the Archidiocese announced over the weekend that the first of those churches will be St. Adalbert in the Pilsen neighborhood. St. Adalbert appeared to have been on the chopping block for some time, and was at the center of a working group between the neighborhood's five parishes to discuss and recommend a path forward to the Archdiocese. It was designated as one of Preservation Chicago's 7 Most Endangered Buildings in 2014 because its two towers, the tallest structures in Pilsen according to the group, were in need of serious repairs. The total bill to fix the church's masonry issues could top $3 million.
"When you get off the 'L' stop, and you see the tower, you know you are home," Joseph Schultz, 32, a lifelong parishioner of the church told the Chicago Tribune. "It's a family here. When they tear it down, what is this going to be in four years, condos?"
And gentrification in the neighborhood also sparked theories that St. Adalbert was a valuable piece of real estate to help swell archdiocesan coffers.
"They're going to sell this place and turn it into a bunch of condos. It's a continuance of the gentrification Pilsen has been seeing for years and it's very political", a man who asked not to be named told the Sun-Times.
The church, which is a landmark in not only Pilsen but the Polish community as well, borrows some of its architectural styling from St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. However, closing St. Adalbert wasn't the only decision made by the Archdiocese's working group: the local Catholic church authority also announced that St. Ann and Providence of God will become worship sites for two of the three remaining neighborhood churches, St. Pius V, St. Paul and St. Procopius.
As for the fate of St. Adalbert, no official word came from the Archdiocese but with the closure of St. Adalbert and the consolidation of two other Pilsen parishes, it's three down in one week.
— Andrew Schneider
·Archdiocese to close St. Adalbert, reorganize five other Pilsen parishes [Tribune]
·St. Adalbert to close, other Pilsen churches realigned [Sun-Times]
·Archdiocese May Close Nearly 100 Churches in Next 15 Years [Curbed Chicago]