Local/State

$3 million in repairs forces Kensington church to close

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Due to $3 million needed for repairs, after more than a century, Ascension of Our Lord Parish in Kensington is forced to close.

There were a lot of hugs and a few tears, as parishioners arrived for the church's final mass on Sunday.

"It's the end of my life. I've been here 85 years; baptized here, everything happened here. I'm still a parishioner here, it's the only church I've ever belonged to," said Martha Wodarczyk.

Mass was held in the school building, as the once soaring church next door has become so rundown, it's unsafe.

The parish was founded in 1899 and the church completed in 1914 but in recent decades, roof and water damage led to a need for $3 million in repairs.

Average weekly mass attendance has dropped to less than 200 and the cash-strapped Archdiocese made the decision to close the church's doors.

For generations of Kensington families, the grand building, with both an upper and lower sanctuary, was the place for lifecycle events.

Rose Ryan's family joined the parish when she was five.

"Next month my 11-year-old was supposed to have his confirmation and now we have to find another parish," said Ryan.

For some it was more than just the memories but the beauty of the building itself.

"I was just telling my son that the church is absolutely beautiful. As a kid you look up and see all the paintings and its like Michelangelo lived there and built that church inside," said Jack Thackrah.

Parishioners have a choice of joining Holy Innocents or Visitation BVM parish. Meanwhile the future of the buildings have not yet been determined.

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philadelphia, kensington, philadelphia archdiocese, local/state, amy buckman
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