Archdiocese announces consolidation of Pilsen parishes

By Joyce Duriga
Sunday, February 21, 2016

After several months of study and consultation with parish leaders, the Archdiocese of Chicago is consolidating six parishes in the Pilsen neighborhood into three.

“Together we have decided, pending consultation of the Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council, that St. Pius V Parish, St. Paul Parish and St. Procopius Parish will remain as the three central Pilsen parishes,” Auxiliary Bishop Alberto Rojas wrote to Pilsen parishioners the weekend of Feb. 13. St. Adalbert, whose towers require extensive, expensive repairs, will close. St. Ann will become a worship site of St. Paul, and Providence of God will become a worship site of St. Procopius. The schools at St. Ann, St. Pius V and St. Procopius will continue to function as usual.

The sacraments will continue to be celebrated at the worship sites and Mass schedules will be reconfigured so they don't overlap at the two sites. Other programs will combine. For example, at St. Ann-St. Paul, there will be one pastoral council for the two sites, one pastor, one finance council and one religious-education program. 

“Our goal in considering a reconfiguration plan was to continue serving the Catholic population in Pilsen using our resources and personnel in a more effective and pastoral way,” wrote Bishop Rojas, vicar of Vicariate III, which includes Pilsen.

The archdiocese made this decision following consultation with parish leaders, including representatives from the Dominican and Jesuit provinces, as the Dominicans and Jesuits staff St. Pius V and St. Procopius, respectively. In November, the Jesuits informed the archdiocese that they could no longer staff St. Procopius; a diocesan pastor will take over July 1.

Crumbling towers at St. Adalbert sparked discussion about the changing needs of the Pilsen community. In 2014 scaffolding first went up around the church’s 185-foot bell towers. It would cost at least $2.5 million to repair the towers, a cost that does not include other building issues that have been discovered.

In the meantime, the archdiocese studied the community's changing demographics. Since 2000, the population of Pilsen has dropped by 8,000. Over the same period, Mass attendance across Pilsen has fallen by about 2,000.

Changes in communities happen over time, and it is the mission of the Catholic Church to adapt to those changes and continue to reach out to the community the best way it can, said Father Donald Nevins, pastor of St. Agnes of Bohemia and head of deanery that includes Pilsen.

“We want to make sure we are focused on how to best serve these people in the future. It demands changes. It demands vision,” Nevins said.

On Feb. 14, Bishop Rojas celebrated Masses at St. Adalbert to share the news with the community. The other parishes played a recorded audio message from the bishop and shared a letter from him with parishioners. In the weeks to come, archdiocesan leaders will visit all the parishes to answer parishioners’ questions and to listen to their concerns.

Even though the parishes and the archdiocese have been upfront about the planning process from the beginning, Nevins explained, some parishioners will still be surprised by the news.

“This will have a big impact on a lot of people. They’re going to wonder why,” he said.

The timing and details of St. Adalbert’s closing have not yet been determined, and Mass will continue to be celebrated there for now.

This process is something parishes will go through in the coming years as part of the “Renew My Church” revitalization process, recently announced by Archbishop Cupich.

“This didn’t start out to be a pilot but it’s de facto becoming one,” said Nevins, who is also co-chair of the “Renew My Church” priests’ steering committee.

Pilsen parishes


  • renew my church

Related Articles