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Diocese Suspends Activities at St. Ann's Church | News

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Diocese Suspends Activities at St. Ann's Church
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BUFFALO, NY - One of Buffalo's oldest and best-known churches will have to close its doors, at least temporarily, because its exterior is crumbling.

The Buffalo Catholic Diocese announced Sunday "the suspension of all activities" at St. Ann Church, effective April 30th.

A recent inspection showed the structure of the building was suffering from severe deterioration. Many of the issues are extremely hazardous to parishioners.

The northwest tower of the church has been compromised according to the report. Stones are loose, buttresses are pulling away and many broken stones are in danger of falling off the face of the church.

St. Ann Parish merged into SS. Columba-Brigid in 2007 but after the delay of using only SS. Columba-Brigid as the single worship site, weekly Sunday mass has still been celebrated at St. Ann's.

Now, parishioners are encouraged to attend mass at SS. Columba-Brigid and participate in parish-sponsored activities.

A structural engineering study will now be done to determine the exact condition of the church and what type of lasting repairs need to be done.

Father Roy Herberger, pastor of SS. Columba-Brigid, said that repairs could cost as much as $7 million. He fears the cost is so high, the church will never re-open.

"As we leave here today, for who knows how long it may be, really, if ever, if you're talking millions of dollars to repair, who knows if that will be able to take place," he said to the congregation during mass.

Diocese Spokesperson Kevin Keenan said any talk of permanent closure is premature.

REPORTER: Is there a good chance that could end up being the final mass in that facility?

KEENAN: I think it's too early to tell because we really have to get a good look at the extent of the deterioration, but I don't think it would be accurate to say that that was the last mass celebrated at St. Ann's.

Originally known as Buffalo's German parish, St. Ann was formed in the late 1850s. The church was built in eight years by German immigrants, with construction ending in 1886.

Sunday, the Buffalo Catholic Diocese relesed the following statement regarding St. Ann:

            Pointing to severe deterioration to the exterior of St. Ann Church in Buffalo, Bishop Edward U. Kmiec has ordered the suspension of all activities at the Broadway church.

            In a letter to Father Roy Herberger, pastor of SS. Columba-Brigid, the parish responsible for St. Ann Church, the bishop said a 126-page report assessing the structural integrity of the building "was more alarming than I had anticipated, and it reveals severe deterioration of the exterior of the structure.  Structural damage is now so serious that it presents a safety threat."

            All activities at the church have been suspended as of April 30 while a long-term solution is sought.  Protective fencing has been installed outside an area in front of the church.

            Close inspection of the building revealed a number of structural issues:  the northwest tower of the church has been compromised:  stones are loose and out of plane, buttresses are pulling away from the tower and many of the stones are broken and are in danger of falling off the face of the church.

            A structural engineering study is now needed to determine the exact condition of the church, the extent of damage and what type of lasting repairs need to be made.

            Bishop Kmiec is encouraging St. Ann's worshipers to attend Mass at SS. Columba-Brigid and to participate in the catechetical instruction, sacramental preparation programs and other parish-sponsored activities.

St. Ann Parish merged into SS. Columba-Brigid on September 1, 2007 with the intention of using only the SS. Columba-Brigid site.  Use of a single worship site was temporarily delayed during which time a weekly Sunday Mass has been celebrated at St. Ann's.

            The parish opened in 1858 on Buffalo's German East Side.  During the early years, all Masses, devotions and confessions were conducted in German.  The current church was built in 1886 in the Gothic Revival architecture style.  It took eight years to construct.

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