Friends of St. Laurentius Church release report detailing how to save church

Today we are releasing our 200 page recourse document which was received by the Vatican.

The contractor and engineer for the parishioners interested in saving St. Laurentius Church gave an initial estimate cost of $650,000 for all repairs needed for the church.  The Phase I repair cost is estimated between $150,000 and $200,000 for the immediate repairs required by the Violation Notice of the City of Philadelphia.  Phase II repair costs estimated between $450,000 and $500,000 could be collected over a  period of 10 or more years allowing for planned giving to repair the rest of the church as our finance plan describes.

The $3.5 million estimate from the Archdiocese assumes that the towers are in need of repair.


1. On March 26, 2014 a meeting was held with representatives of Holy Name of Jesus Parish, the Archdiocese, and the City of Philadelphia.  It was asked several times, “Was St. Laurentius Church in imminent danger of collapse?”.  Repeatedly, the answer was “NO”.

2. No one who represented the Archdiocese had physically inspected the inside of the church, specifically the towers.  The engineering firm hired by the Archdiocese only looked at the towers from the ground level outside the church.  They made their assessment of the towers without a full inspection.

3. No comprehensive survey was done at that time, nor has it been done to determine the location and extent of the types of masonry defects

4. This same engineering firm never brought a contractor through the church for pricing the possible options for the building.  The costs presented in their report were only estimates based on little if any information.

5.  The Archdiocese had not contacted any contractors for other proposals, which is the usual norm

6. O’Donnell Naccarato claimed the top of the tower was apporiximately  6″ off vertical.  What the engineers failed to realize was the method of construction done in the mid 1800’s.  The builders used optical illusion to make towers look higher.  They narrowed the circumference of the turret as they went higher.  It is this architectural illlusion that the engineers incorrectly identified as a dangerous leaning of the towers of St. Laurentius Church.

7. When questioned, O’Donnell Naccarato admitted they had not done an internal or external inspection of the towers of the church.  As a result added costs now made their proposals extremely expensive.

8. St. Laurentius convent recently sold for around $350,000. The convent was built using donations from St. Laurentius parishioners.  The Archdiocese stated that the funds from this sale could not be used to repair the church, but could only be used towards demolition.

9. Holy Name’s convent is currently under agreement with Aquinas Realty group. This agreement was signed a day before Holy Name Parish merged with St. Laurentius Parish.  The convent was never put on the market publicly, and Aquinas is buying the property for way under market value.  The agreement was extended by 18 months and expires on June 10th.  Holy Name has been paying to maintain this property for 2 years while it is under agreement.  The agreement stipulates that Aquinas can decide whether or not to purchase the property until the agreement expires.  If they decide not to buy, all escrow funds are returned to them.


The Last Day of Winter


We are approaching the one year anniversary of the last (but not final) mass at St. Laurentius. Today, on the last day of winter, we ask you to share our message of hope.

Please show your support by leaving a flower on the steps of St. Laurentius Church.

And to our friends around the world who don’t live close enough to leave a flower, you can participate by sharing our photo, or sharing a photo of any flower with ‪#‎HopeForStLaurentius‬

Thank you all for your support over the past year. Please continue to keep St. Laurentius in your prayers!

Father Francis Gwiazda Memorial Mass

Thursday, March 12, 2015 – 7 P.M.
St. Adalbert Church, Thompson Street and Allegheny Avenue in Philadelphia, PA.

On March 2, 2015, Fr. Francis Gwiazda, “Father Frank,” the long time pastor of St. Laurentius Church in the Fishtown section of Phladelphia passed away. Fr. Gwiazda, ordained in 1969, was respected for his service to the Catholic Church. He was known as a proud priest, great speaker, and a person who loved to sing and promote his Polish heritage. Fr. Frank served as Pastor of St. Laurentius Church, the oldest Polish Church in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, PA, for 27 years until he retired.

Fr. Gwiazda also served as Assistant Pastor at St. Hedwig Church in Chester, PA, St. Laurentius Church, St. John Cantius Church and St. Adalbert Church in Philadelphia, prior to being named pastor of St. Laurentius Church. Members of the Polish American Congress, Polish American Heritage Associations, and Polonia, extend condolences to Fr. Gwiazda’s family.

Everyone is invited to attend the Memorial Mass for Fr. Francis Gwiazda

This information provided by the:
Polish American Cultural Center Museum, 308 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Obituary from Philadelphia Daily News

Here is where the Archdiocese put the items it illegally confiscated from St. Laurentius

The Archdiocese told NBC 10 that each item removed from St. Laurentius would be “catalogued and stored in a warehouse”.  And once again, they are not giving the full truth.  Mr. Edmund Rafferty, an employee (administrator) from The Archdiocese of Philadelphia oversaw Riley and Sons Moving company’s work.  He seemed rather amiable; was simply doing his job.  Mr. Edmund Rafferty is the coordinator of The Ecclesiastical Exchange.  This exchange sells former sacred items from Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Ecclesiastical Exchange

The Archdiocese Continues to Violate Canon Law by Confiscating more sacred objects from St. Laurentius

The Archdiocese defiantly continues to carry on their plan to strip St. Laurentius of its sacred objects.  Many of these sacred objects are not material “things” – they have been donated by lifetime parishoners, sometimes in memory of a  loved one who passed away.  The archdiocese continues to disrepect parishoners by blatantly hauling items out of the church in broad daylight.  

The Archdiocese violates canon law by removing sacred items from St. Laurentius

We have followed church law and procedure by filing an appeal to Pope Francis and the Vatican. The Archdiocese and the Archbishop continues to mock Pope Francis by removing relics and sacred Items. Why was this unnecessary action done this week? Why was thus expense incurred in clear violation of canon law? Who is paying for this? Please ask the Archdiocese why they have zero respect for Pope Francis and for the tens of thousands of souls who have called St Laurentius home for 130 years.

Members of our committee spoke to NBC 10’s George Spencer last night. Here is the segment from Monday’s 11:00 news.

Formal Recourse

On Friday, October 17, 2014 the formal Recourse in favor of restoring Saint Laurentius Church in Fishtown, Philadelphia, was sent to the Vatican and Pope Francis.  Extensive research and careful notes were submitted regarding the condition of the church, the possibility of repair, the support of the church, the sanctity of this Saint Laurentius Church and the goodness of all Catholics in our area.  Throughout this process and in the formal submission, we kept the safety of all people in mind.

The appeal has been sent.  Now, the process must be followed;  the decision is in the hands of Pope Francis and the Vatican leaders.  This might take three months.

May we keep the strength of Saint Laurentius / Saint Lawrence, a martyr burned on a gridiron for his faith, in our hearts.  And, regardless of the decision, may we find peace in knowing we followed due diligence and the search for truth in a deliberate way.