THREATENED: St. Adalbert Unity Rally highlights worshippers’ plight (Chi 7 2014, 2016 and 2019)

Rally to Save St. Adalbert Church, July 7, 2019, Henry J. Schlacks, 1636 W. 17th Street. Photo Credit: Mary Lu Seidel / Preservation Chicago
Chicago Tonight Coverage of Effort to Save St. Adalbert Church. Photo Credit: Ward Miller / Preservation Chicago

“Ask your Cardinal!” Ward Miller’s response to a parishioner’s questions about why this is happening to the family at St. Adalbert.

Imagine a place that has been the foundation of your worship life. Your earliest memories are of sitting on your father’s lap during a church service. You had the funeral mass for that same father years later. Family was married there. You were married there. It is the hub of your spiritual life and the hub of your community life. And then the Archdiocese tells you it no longer has room for that facility among its assets, and it will be sold to the highest bidder.

That is what Blanca Torres and all the worshippers at St. Adalbert are going through right now. Whether of Polish or Latino upbringing, the faithful who worship at St. Adalbert all feel the same.

“We went to school here. We took our moral and spiritual foundation here. We got married here. We had our funerals here. In all of that, we were a community that supported and encouraged each other,” said parishioner Blanca Torres.

“The parishioners and the Catholic faithful have built this church. Why should we pay for it again?” asked Julie Sawicki, a worshipper at St. Adalbert. “We are fighting for everything (the church, rectory, convent and school), because we know the church cannot survive alone.”

25th Ward Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez promised the community that no further action would take place on the church until the worshippers and community members are at the table. “All the parishioners who have worked hard to build the kind of community we see today, there will be no movement on this project until the Archdiocese meets with the parishioners. It is irresponsible to decide that after July 14 this will no longer be a sacred place. We have a clear, transparent process about their plans. Without a conversation, it is irresponsible to make these kinds of decisions. You will be at the table!”

“Between the combined efforts of the Polish and Mexican communities and all others interested in this effort, we can and will make this work,” said Rosemarie Dominguez, a member of the St. Adalbert community. “All community members feel like they have been abandoned by their church leaders.”
“We encourage the Archdiocese and the community to come together and save St. Adalbert,” said Preservation Chicago Executive Director Ward Miller. “Closing the church is not the right answer here. We need the City of Chicago to Landmark this church (and save it for future generations).”

When one parishioner in the audience asked Miller “Why is it they can save buildings downtown, but they can’t save this church?” Ward Miller responded, “Ask your Cardinal!”

It is time to ask Cardinal Cupich! Preservation Chicago will continue to work with the St. Adalbert faithful and members of the community to return this sacred place to the people who built it. We will work together to find viable options to encourage it to be a sacred site.

Additional Reading:
Pilsen Parishioners Fight to Save Historic St. Adalbert Church, Chicago Tonight WTTW Chicago, Nick Blumberg, July 9, 2019

CATHOLIC CANON LAW CAN SAVE PARISHES FROM CLOSURE OR MERGER, Dalton Tomich, June 11, 2013

“The Vatican’s primary appellate court has made known through prior decisions that churches cannot be closed due to a priest shortage. Second, a parish in good financial standing cannot be stripped of its financial resources, particularly those resources that the parish has accrued over the decades from the donations and work of parish members.”

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