The Beacon — The Beacon_042017
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Church Ceiling Collapses
Cecile Pagliarulo

St. Anthony’s in Passaic forced to move Holy Week services to parish center

PASSAIC On Holy Thursday morning, April 13, part of the ceiling of St. Anthony of Padua Church here collapsed just as the parish staff was starting preparations for Holy Week’s Triduum. The ceiling on the left side of the church collapsed completely causing extensive damage and closing the church building until further notice.

“Thankfully the church was empty when the collapse happened and Mass wasn’t being celebrated so no one got hurt,” said Father Edgar Rivera, pastor. “This is an active faith community and we are lucky nothing was going on in the church at the time.”

The collapse happened around 10 a.m., when the cleaning service was preparing the church for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter celebrations. Bienvenida DeLaRosa, who cleans the parish, heard a cracking sound and went to inform the parish staff. When the parish staff returned inside the church less than 10 minutes later, they saw that the ceiling had collapsed and crashed onto the pews and part of the sanctuary on one side of the church.

Shortly after he was informed about the collapse, Bishop Serratelli rushed to the Church to survey the damage. He offered his prayers for the parish community as the Church began to celebrate its holiest time of year.

The Diocese had a roofer inspect the church’s roof earlier this week and the same day, the interior damage was also assessed. A structural engineer will also perform a structural inspection. The ceiling collapse has also been reported to the insurance company and an independent adjuster has been assigned to inspect and to develop a scope of damage and repair estimate.

St. Anthony, which serves an urban population in the inner city, will hold Masses in the parish hall and its Corpus Christi chapel in the parish center. With the church building closed for the foreseeable future, the parish will face some space challenges since the parish hall is used for many church events, fundraisers and rentals to the community as an additional source of income for the parish.

Father Rivera said, “It’s very sad not to have the church. We just lost a parishioner whose family is very active and we won’t be able to have her funeral here at her home church.”

There was a similar mood among parishioners, who were setting up the Altar of Repose for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, in the chapel.

Krystine Gamoso, a young adult, who was baptized, received First Communion and Confirmation in the church, was helping set up the Altar of Repose, and said, “It’s somber here. I did all my sacraments here and my dad’s funeral was in the church. But we’ve got to keep moving forward. While the church building is temporarily closed, we still have a church home.”

As soon as the structural assessment is completed, the church will begin the next steps in repairing the roof and interior of the church. Father Rivera said, “We are a small church but a big community of believers. While the insurance may pay for some of the costs, we are unsure how we will pay for what insurance doesn’t cover. We are grateful to those who have reached out at this difficult time.”

[Information on helping the parish: www.stanthonypassaic.org.]
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