St. Paul Parish was one of the first parishes in the Archdiocese of Chicago to undergo the Renew My Church process. It involved a merger of St. Adalbert, St. Ann and St. Paul parishes that resulted in the closure of two churches and the unification of the parishioner base at the St. Paul campus. The parishioners St. Adalbert could not cover maintenance costs, let alone pay for the needed capital improvements to keep the building safe and secure.
FACT: There were not enough parishioners at St. Adalbert to keep the church open. Attendance had dwindled to about 200 people per service, for a church with a capacity of 1,200. Sunday collections were nowhere near the costs to maintain the church. In fact, a $1 million gift to repair the towers was returned because the cost for repairs was four times that amount.
FACT: St. Paul Parish is responsible for the upkeep and the sale of the St. Adalbert property. It is the parish’s decision, and the parish’s alone, to sell the property. Parishioners have been open to community dialogue about the future development of the church and there are no plans to demolish St. Adalbert, which is on the city’s “orange” list and designated historic with architectural significance. It would be nearly impossible to obtain a demolition permit for such an
important historical building.
important historical building.
FACT: Currently, St. Paul Parish bears the cost of maintaining St. Adalbert. We want to preserve as much of the building as possible and honor the contributions of Polonia to the Church, but maintaining the building comes at a great cost. The parish spends $1,600 a month in board-up fees, $3,300 in gas and electricity a month, $750 in monthly security patrols, and the insurance is $37,500 a year. In addition to those costs to maintain the campus, St Paul’s absorbed St. Adalbert’s debts to the sum of over $1.6 million dollars when they merged. The parish cannot continue to bear these costs and provide effective ministerial services.
FACT: The vacant building is a potential public hazard. There are frequent break-ins and the structure is deteriorating. Earlier this year, a dead man was discovered during a security check.
FACT: St. Paul parishioners are concerned with gentrification and changes to the Pilsen neighborhood. We do not want the sale of St. Adalbert to result in large, high-rise condominiums. Current zoning of the parcel limits any future construction to a two-story residential building, and any zoning adjustment would be subject to community dialogue.
FACT: The closure and sale of the property was taken all the way to the Vatican. After years of litigation, the parish got approval to move forward with the sale of the property.
FACT: While the building is no longer considered a church under Canon Law, there are sacred objects in the building. There are items that need to be removed and sent to another sacred space or put into storage. One such artifact is the La Pietà statue, which must be removed if it is to be preserved and protected. It is the parish’s wish that the statue remain in Pilsen for all to treasure.
We understand the closing of St. Adalbert has caused much pain and division in our community. Many of us have generations of family entwined in the history of St. Adalbert. But it is time to move forward and unify with St. Paul Parish, where new memories and traditions are being made.