Every year, on Good Friday—the Friday before Easter—crowds of hundreds gather on 18th Street in Pilsen to watch the Via Crucis procession, a live reenactment of the fourteen stations of the cross and crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Catholic churches in Pilsen have played vital roles in its immigrant communities. Since their founding, they have served as places of worship and at various times have provided important social services—like housing, violence prevention, food pantries and counseling—to neighborhood residents.
Era la tarde de un domingo de abril y Elaine Olszewki, feligrés de toda la vida de la Iglesia San Adalberto en Pilsen, bajó por las escaleras al sótano de la rectoría. Como presidenta del Club de Madres, estaba lista para decorar las mesas con manteles individuales y cubiertos desechables para la reunión semanal del club. En cambio, se sorprendió al encontrar la habitación, normalmente ordenada, en completo desorden.
On a Sunday afternoon this April, Elaine Olszewki, a lifelong parishioner of St. Adalbert Church in Pilsen, walked down the church stairs to the rectory basement. As president of the Mothers Club, she was ready to decorate the tables with matching paper cutlery and placemats for the club’s weekly meeting. Instead, she was shocked to find the usually tidy room in disarray.
Oftentimes, zakat is sent abroad to various countries suffering with injustices—but it is important to show that some of that same brutality is happening in the United States to people in jail,” said Nabihah Maqbool, an organizer with Believers Bail Out (BBO) and law student at the University of Chicago, earlier this month at a gathering of Muslim organizers at Augustana Lutheran Church in Hyde Park. BBO, a recently-formed coalition of Muslim organizations working with the Chicago Community Bond Fund, collects zakat—the portion of income Muslims are required to donate to charity—for the purposes of freeing Muslims in Cook County Jail who can’t afford to post bond.
In May 2016, the Archdiocese of Chicago decreed that St. Adalbert Parish in Pilsen would no longer exist. Instead, it would be merged with the neighboring St. Paul Parish. That October, the Archdiocese announced the intended sale of St. Adalbert Church at 17th Street & Paulina Avenue, home of the parish, to the Chicago Academy of Music (CAM)—a music school with no connection to the Catholic Church.
Last Thursday, a jubilant audience filled the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium at the Harold Washington Library Center in the Loop for a screening of It is No Secret: The Life and Inspiration of Rev. Clay Evans. The short documentary follows the life and activism of Evans, cofounder of the Fellowship Baptist Church in Fuller Park.
On the evening of February 28, about thirty congregants of St. Adalbert Church huddled under a tunnel of scaffolding outside the main doors of the church, seeking refuge from a downpour of rain. Holding posters, candles, and various Catholic paraphernalia, the churchgoers collectively chanted “La iglesia no se vende.” (The church is not for sale). At around 6:30pm, a few of the elderly parishioners, standing on the steps at the entrance of the church, began a prayer vigil.