Detroit (WXYZ) - Scaffolding now rises up alongside St. Josaphat Catholic Church at Canfield Street and I-75. It’s a very good sign for the future of the historic church and its iconic steeple.
“We all wanted this but just didn’t know if it was going to be a reality," said Kevin Piotrowski, parish council president of Mother of Divine Mercy parish, which includes St. Josaphat.
The steeple was twisted and badly damaged during a severe wind storm last November. The city of Detroit ordered the church closed because of the danger it posed to worshippers and anyone walking or driving on Canfield. The doors to the church, which opened in 1901, have been shut since.
A successful fundraising campaign plus some insurance money allowed the repair and restoration work to begin. The total cost of the project will be in the neighborhood of $500,000.
“We’ve heard from people all over Detroit, the state of Michigan, people from out of state. The Archdiocese of Detroit has been a tremendous help," Piotrowski told Action News.
“We don’t have it all but we are hopeful and our faith tells us that we will have the resources to take this project to completion and to have that beautiful steeple restored, really to its original state”
New slate shingles will be added as part of the project. to replace those Crates of the new steeple covering, mined from a quarry in Vermont, have already arrived at the church.
What has remained all along for Piotrowski is his belief that a symbol known to so many Detroiters would retain its place of prominence in the city's skyline.
"We’re celebrating the spirit of new life, the spirit of re-birth, the thought of resurrection, it’s all very in the air right now as we’re in Holy week, and this is what’s happening at St. Josaphat with our steeple," Piotrowski said.
Contractors expect to complete their work by the end of May. Piotrowski said the church is already planning for a grand re-opening sometime in June.