The renovation project for St. Mary Czestochowa Church is underway after a tornado last year left a path of destruction.
- It's been nearly a year since a tornado ripped the roof off this local church. Since then, renovation and repair of the building in New Kensington has been on hold. But that's about to change. Ross Guidotti is live with the plan to bring the house of worship back. Ross?
ROSS GUIDOTTI: All right, Ken. Yeah, Bishop Larry Kulick tells me the rebuilding process of St. Mary Czestochowa will be an intense, and long, and complex process. But, he says, it's something that must be done. As dawn broke, April 8, 2020, sunlight would reveal what happened in the dark of night to St. Mary of Czestochowa's Catholic church in New Kensington.
DAVID REJNIAK: The roof of the church was blown off. And I said, you've got to be kidding me.
ROSS GUIDOTTI: An overnight tornado and its monstrously strong winds the reason for all of this.
LARRY KULICK: And I couldn't believe the amount of devastation that had occurred.
ROSS GUIDOTTI: But the tornado was just the beginning of weather woes for the church and those trying to save it.
MICHAEL BEGOLLY: It was storm after storm, and the plastic that we were using to cover the sheets of tarping just kept blowing off.
ROSS GUIDOTTI: Worries over the ceiling plaster continuing to fall would prompt the diocese to build an enormous scaffold shield around the ornate and antique wooden altar.
LARRY KULICK: And we were just in the beginning of the COVID lockdown. It was Wednesday of Holy Week. And I thought to myself, my goodness. What terrible devastation. What a terrible time. And what a horrible event.
ROSS GUIDOTTI: But that was then, and this is now.
LARRY KULICK: This is the people's church. This is the people's assets.
ROSS GUIDOTTI: Renovation of the century-old church will now begin in earnest. There is much to be done. The ceiling's holes still need to be patched. The incredible hand-painted murals will be cleaned. And that's just the beginning. The cost of all this? Roughly $2.1 million. Insurance will pay for it all. The parishioners, however, will determine what the church will be in spirit and soul as much as brick and mortar. Bishop Kulick asking only this of those bringing the church back.
LARRY KULICK: To be creative, to be dynamic, to be vibrant.
ROSS GUIDOTTI: All right. When will services resume at the church? Well, the diocese says that's yet to be terminated. The process, however, to getting to that point has now begun. Reporting live, Ross Guidotti, KDKA News.