The church will resume services in the next six months to a year, weather permitting.By Ross Guidotti

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. (KDKA) — As dawn broke on April 8, 2020, sunlight revealed what happened in the dark of night to St. Mary Czestochowa Church in New Kensington.

“The roof of the church was blown off,” parishioner David Rejniak told KDKA at the time

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An overnight tornado and its strong winds were the reason for all of it. Greensburg Diocese Bishop Larry Kulick said of the mess, “I couldn’t believe the amount of devastation that had occurred.”

But the tornado was just the beginning of weather woes for the church and those trying to save it.

Reflecting on the days after the disaster, Monsignor Michael Begolly — then-pastor of St. Mary Czestochowa Church — said, “It was storm after storm. The plastic we were using to cover the roof just kept blowing off.”

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Worries over the ceiling plaster continued into the fall, prompting the diocese to build an enormous scaffold shield around the ornate wooden altar.

Bishop Kulick said it was one of many things hitting at the heart of the church during the most important part of the liturgical calendar.

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“We were just at the beginning of the lockdown. It was Wednesday of Holy Week. What terrible devastation, what a terrible time, what a horrible event,” Kulick said.

But that was then and this is now.

Renovation of the century-old church will now begin in earnest, and there is much to be done. The ceiling’s holes need to be patched and the incredible hand-painted murals will be cleaned.

That’s just the beginning.

The cost of all the repairs is estimated to be roughly $2.1 million, with insurance paying for it.

The parishioners will determine what the church will be in spirit and soul as much as brick and mortar. Bishop Kulick asking only this of those bringing the church back: “To be creative, to be dynamic, to be vibrant.”

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The church will resume services in the next six months to a year, weather permitting.