An organisation called the Society of St. Adalbert has started collecting pledges of financial support aimed at saving the church in the Pilsen neighbourhood of Chicago, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported on Friday.
For the plan to succeed, the campaigners must raise at least USD 1 million to acquire the Archdiocese of Chicago property of which St. Adalbert Church is a part, according to IAR.
The news agency quoted one of the organisers of the fundraising campaign, Krzysztof Wąż, as saying that the Archdiocese of Chicago has recently hired a developer to help it sell the church as soon as possible.
"There are no restrictions in the contract. The developer is free to even demolish the church if he so chooses," Wąż said, as quoted by IAR.
St. Adalbert Church in Chicago is one of the oldest Polish parish churches in the United States, according to IAR. The building was constructed more than 100 years ago using funds contributed by Polish immigrants to America.
The church, which boasts a marble interior and impressive architecture, is an important Polish landmark in the Chicago area, IAR reported.
Some prominent Polish Americans, including Irena Moskal, sister of the late head of the Polish American Congress, Edward Moskal, has joined the campaign to save the church, according to IAR.
"If we allow this beautiful symbol of the Catholic Church in America to be destroyed, it will be a sad day for both the church and this country,” Irena Moskal told Polish Radio. “I intend to fight for this church. The same could happen to other churches. That must be stopped.”
Campaigners have asked compatriots for support as the Society of St. Adalbert negotiates with the Archdiocese of Chicago on behalf of the area’s Polish community, IAR reported.
The Society of St. Adalbert plans to convert some of the space into a bed and breakfast for pilgrims to finance costly renovation of the church. The B&B would be managed by a non-profit organisation, according to news reports.
Chicago is said to be home to the world’s second-largest population of Poles after the Polish capital, Warsaw.