Safety Concerns Prompt Closing at Buffalo Church

April 29, 2012 Updated Apr 29, 2012 at 9:12 PM EDT

By Ed Reilly

April 29, 2012 Updated Apr 29, 2012 at 9:12 PM EDT

(Buffalo, NY) Parishioners at Saint Ann's Church in Buffalo were told that due to severe structural damage, all activities will be suspended immediately. The following is a statement released by the Diocese of Buffalo:

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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