By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Longtime members of St. Laurentius Church in Fishtown weren’t happy with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia when it removed relic structures from the building this week.
The church was closed last March due to structural problems, but the fight to save it continues.
“Fishtown is not a community of people who give up ever,” says Garden Logan, a member of Friends of St. Laurentius. Her son attends St. Laurentius School and she successfully fought alongside longtime parishioners to save the school two years ago.
But the possibility that the church will be torn down, she says, elicits fear:
“If they are going to do that with the church, are they going to do that with the school?”
This fear bubbled to the surface when parishioners saw religious objects being removed from the church this week. They’ve consulted their lawyer about what to do.
In the meantime, they’re trudging forward with a ‘beef and beer’ fundraiser to benefit St. Laurentius School on Saturday night.
“We’re trying to keep everybody’s spirits up,” says John Wisniewski, who’s been a member of the church since the 1950s. “”You still feel like your heart and soul is there– so I feel nauseous just thinking about the Archdiocese removing sacred statutes from the church.”
“Nothing that’s happening locally with the building should be a surprise,” adds Ken Gavin, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. He says the pastor of St. Laurentius removed the relics to keep them safe.
“He doesn’t want to see anything destroyed,” says Gavin, “he doesn’t want to see anything stolen.”
The Archdiocese closed St. Laurentius last March after a commissioned report showed the building was structurally unsafe and would cost more than $1-million to repair.
“The parish itself just cannot sustain the burden of fixing that,” says Gavin.
He says the pastor recommended that the church be demolished, but the parishioners appealed to Rome.
“There’s been no word back from Rome on that yet,” says Gavin.
If demolition is approved, he says, St. Laurentius will be torn down but there are no intentions to close the school.
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