The St. Alphonsus Church building has been declared structurally unsafe.
Posted on 8/24/17
According to Father Phil Ackerman, the Diocese of Fargo has requested that the church building be vacated until the damage is repaired. Fr. Phil stresses that the church building is not condemned.
The damage was discovered after the Church applied for an insurance claim to the Diocese of Fargo regarding some leaks found in the roof of the church. During an inspection, Earl Wilhelm, properties manager of the Diocese of Fargo, came to the parish on Wednesday, August 16 to do an inspection. He found substantial damage to the west end of the building.
Wilhelm was alarmed at the structural condition of the church attic. He told Fr. Ackerman that the church has to have a structural engineer assess the main church building as soon as possible.
The west side and wall have been gradually sinking for several years. Over the past five months, the sinking has increased substantially. Because the west wall has sunk, the west end of the church is pulling away from the roof.
The ongoing damage causes the grout to crumble and fall. The damage could further separate the brick wall of the church from the rafters with the potential for the brick wall to separate and fall. This could also cause the west end of the main church roof to collapse.
The separation is also causing the concrete grout in the rafters and attic to crumble, and some pieces have even fallen. All of the grout above the altar area is dangling loose and crumbling. There are some large pieces of concrete grout (the largest is about 400 lbs.). The loose pieces could potentially fall through the ceiling and onto the church floor.
The engineer made his inspection on Friday, August 18. He agreed with Wilhelm’s assessment that the church building is structurally unsafe.
Because of the structural condition of the church, the Diocese of Fargo as requested that the St. Alphonsus church building be vacated. The Diocese has also decided that the building is off limits for Masses and any events. Unfortunately, this means the church doors are locked for safety reasons.
At this time, Church officials do not know how long the church will be closed and how long it will take to repair the building. Some estimate that the repairs could take months.
More studies of the building and the damage have to be done. Soil testing under and around the damaged wall have to be done, also. The investigations and damage assessments will take several weeks.
According to Fr. Ackerman, current Sunday and weekday Mass schedules will not change. All Masses will be held in the school gym. Adoration has been temporarily canceled until further notice. The Fellowship Hall (between the church and rectory) will remain open to all parishioners and can be used for meetings, gatherings, or just having coffee.
Bishop John Folda is aware of the problem and has sent a letter of encouragement to the parish stating, “I want you to know that my prayers are with all of you. Even though this is a great inconvenience, I know you will understand that this is necessary for safety reasons. Hopefully the repairs can be made quickly, and you will be back in your church as soon as possible.”
More information can be found on the church website at www.stalphonsuslangdon.com/ or you can call the parish phone at (701) 256-5966 ext. 135.