St. Hedwig weathering roof damage, rumors of demolitionWritten by Tom Konecny | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It seems some good may have arisen from recent rumors that Toledo’s historic St. Hedwig Catholic Church, 2916 Lagrange St., would be demolished, stemming from concern after its roof lost some shingles.
Not only has the Catholic Diocese of Toledo confirmed St. Hedwig “is not being torn down,” said Sally Oberski, communications director for the diocese, a group of 20 grade school alumni and nearby residents are starting a grassroots crusade to breathe new life into this North Toledo neighborhood landmark.
A Facebook page called “Save St. Hedwig Catholic Church” seems to have initiated the stir — at least online — when it posted Jan. 22: “We have received reports that Saint Hedwig will be torn down. The ceiling over the main altar fell down a few months ago and has not been repaired.”
This spurred a wave of unsubstantiated worry and rumors with one Facebook account offering that the City of Toledo was demanding repairs the church couldn’t afford. According to City Commissioner of Inspection Chris Zervos that isn’t true, as he said his department has made no contact with St. Hedwig.
St. Hedwig merged with nearby St. Adalbert in 2010, becoming one parish. The St. Hedwig church structure has largely remained closed since 2012, used only for special occasions, like weddings, funerals and baptisms. Shingle damage recently resulted in the church closing its doors temporarily, in the name of public safety.
Upon learning of the shingle damage, the Rev. Jacob Gordon, the church’s pastor, immediately scheduled a meeting to discuss the church’s condition with Bishop Daniel Thomas, Oberski said, but that appointment has been postponed due to unrelated circumstances. Oberski said Gordon will be willing to publicly discuss news concerning St. Hedwig once he knows more definitively what the next step might be.
In the meantime, rumors swirled online and also within the tightknit Polish Village community.
“All this about a roof falling in, it’s not true,” said Tom Jesionowski, a St. Adalbert/St. Hedwig parishioner. “There’s also stories going on that the roof is costing $100,000 to a half million, and that’s not true. I talked to [Gordon] on Sunday, and once the weather clears up, he’s going to get three bids on the roof.”
After watching the gossip spread, former St. Hedwig School student Racheal Nadrasik of Toledo also met with Gordon to get the facts, and now is hoping to start a drive to help the church make its necessary repairs.
“Everybody’s all up in arms that the church was shut down, but at the same time, no one’s doing anything to save it,” Nadrasik said. “So, my friends and I decided to take it upon ourselves.”
On Feb. 6, she and a group of 20 St. Hedwig School alumni from 1998-2003, plus some neighborhood friends, plan to meet with Gordon to tour the church, assess damage and take photos — all with the intention of starting an online campaign to raise funds for St. Hedwig’s necessary repairs.
“[St. Hedwig is] just gorgeous, and so rich in history,” Nadrasik said. “Basically all it needs is a new roof. None of the rumors are true. We’re hoping if we can get the word out there, and get our community back together and tell everybody what Toledo is really about, that we’ll get people to donate time and materials. We’re trying to have faith, and I know a lot of original Polish residents have passed away or moved out of the area, but we can still do this. There’s no reason why we can’t do it.”
Nadrasik attended St. Hedwig School from preschool through eighth grade, and she wants to give back to a place that gave her so much. The diocese closed the school in 2005.
“We all need to pay back our debts, and this is the least I could do,” Nadrasik said.