CHICAGO (CBS) — Protesters marched around Holy Name Cathedral on Sunday, demanding the Chicago Archdiocese stop the sale of a church that has served the Pilsen community for over 100 years.
St. Adalbert Church was closed last year, when the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago dissolved the parish as part of a plan to consolidate six parishes in Pilsen into three.
The Archdiocese has hired a lawyer to work out a sale of the 102-year-old building to the Chicago Academy of Music.
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. The society has made its counter-offer to the Archdiocese, but has yet to hear back.
On Sunday, parishioners who want to see St. Adalbert stay a church marched at Holy Name Cathedral, singing and reciting prayers in Polish.
Cecylia Cudzcih said she’s crushed about the potential sale of the church to the music academy, which plans to turn the cathedral building designed by Henry Schlacks into a concert hall, its convent into dormitories, and its rectory into housing for master musicians.
The church was started by Polish immigrants, and is one of the oldest Polish Catholic churches in the area.
“When I come here, I try to give my children the culture, the language. That’s why the church help us,” Cudzich said.
St. Adalbert has continued to hold mass twice a week, even though it is officially closed.
The deal with the Chicago Academy of Music could put an end to that.
“This is unbelievable,” said Asia Szmuurio, a longtime St. Adalbert parishioner.
Claudette Pernice said the parishioners want to meet with the Archdiocese about the preservation society’s offer to keep the church open.
“It’s been one lie after another. Never got a meeting with the diocese to defend ourself and tell them why this church is so important to us,” she said.
Since the church closed last year, attendance has gone up, according to Pernice.
The towers of St. Adalbert’s Church need about $3 million in repairs, and the condition of the building was cited by the Archdiocese as a factor contributing to its decision to close the church.