Structural Problems Shutter St. Ann's Church

April 29, 2012 Updated Oct 19, 2013 at 5:01 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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Structural Problems Shutter St. Ann's Church

April 29, 2012 Updated Oct 19, 2013 at 5:01 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW/RELEASE) St. Ann's Church celebrated its final mass this morning before closing its doors indefinitely.

An inspection of the 155 year-old church uncovered more damage than expected, and fencing has been installed to protect pedestrians from falling debris.

A statement from Bishop Edward Kmiec was read to the congregation during this morning's mass. The congregation will join SS. Columba-Brigid.

According to a news release:

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.