NORFOLK, VA (WAVY) — In a neighborhood plagued by crime and poverty, The Basilica of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception stands as a beacon for hope and help.
Now the Norfolk church is facing a crisis of its own.
“This can’t be deferred any longer, we have to do something,” Father Jim Curran, St. Mary’s Pastor, told WAVY.com
Fr. Curran recounted a moment on a recent Sunday that brought the mass to a halt.
“They [the children’s choir] were just as beautiful and angelic singing and swaying, and all of a sudden we heard a loud crash,” he said.
A medallion fell 50 feet and smashed onto the hard marble floors below. Luckily no one was hurt, but that was a sure sign the 158 year old building is in direct need of repair.
“If this place was to fall, it would be a tragedy to the neighborhood, to us, and to black Catholics throughout the country,” Deacon Calvin Bailey told WAVY.com.
Bailey who grew up in the neighborhood can attest to the good the church does — feeding the souls and stomachs of those in need.
The church kitchen puts out 3,000 meals a month.
“This has been here since 1858 and we haven’t closed our doors to anyone,” Calvin said.
In fact, Fr. Curran stated, their doors have always been open to everyone, “This is pre-civil war, we were meeting blacks and whites together worshiping the Lord and there’s historical significance that I would hate to lose.”
To save it they will need $2 million. Besides the leaking stained glass windows and cracked facade, they found the structure holding up the roof is rotted.
Now the church that has served so many is calling on the charity of others to continue its mission and preserve its history.
If you would like to help follow the link or call : 757- 622-4487.