St. Adalbert Preservationists Counter Music Academy’s Renovation Plan

CHICAGO (CBS) — Parishioners of a century-old Catholic church in the Pilsen neighborhood have found found an ally in their fight to keep the church open.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has hired a lawyer to work out a sale to the Chicago Academy of Music, but St. Adalbert Preservation Society President Anabel Arguello said the group now can match the Academy’s offer through a partnership with the Resurrection Project, which she said is willing to provide money as needed both for the match and to underwrite repairs.

Arguello said the Society made its counter-offer to the Archdiocese in the past month, but has not heard back from the attorney.

In addition, during a public meeting Thursday night, a priest who speaks English, Spanish, and Polish volunteered to serve at the parish.

Arguello said the priest would need approval from the Archdiocese. The church offers monthly Masses in Polish and Sunday Mass weekly in Spanish and English. Historically, St. Adalbert has been a home to Polish-American Catholics, although its current membership is largely Hispanic.

St. Adalbert is more than 100 years old, and parishioners have been raising money to fix two church towers that are crumbling.

The towers of St. Adalbert’s Church are in disrepair, and the condition of the building was cited by the Archdiocese as a factor contributing to its decision to close the church.

The Archdiocese last year merged St. Adalbert into a parish that includes the recently-renovated St. Paul’s Church and nearby St. Ann’s Church.

Services continue at St. Adalbert on a month-to-month basis. The three parishes share a common administrator, the Rev. Michael Enright, who has favored the sale to the Academy.

The Academy wants to transform the church into a concert hall, its convent to dorms, and its rectory to housing for master musicians.

Sale of the St. Adalbert’s property is expected to help St. Paul’s retire $10 million in debt already spent on its own renovation.

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