MOORHEAD — Repairs began this week on a Catholic church in Moorhead after its roof collapsed last month under the weight of heavy snow.

It could be several months before parishioners return to their home church, and the cost to rebuild likely will add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, a church leader said.

Contractors started to repair the collapsed roof Monday, April 1, at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, parish administrator Swede Stelzer said in an email to The Forum. Parishioners may be able to return to the church for worship as early as June, but the parish center likely won’t be ready until late fall, he said.

“As you well know, Murphy’s Law may enter into the project, so we have to plan for that,” Stelzer said, referring to the adage that anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Services were moved to other local churches after the roof over St. Francis’ kitchen and social hall collapsed Sunday, March 10. No one was injured; services had been cancelled that day due to the weather.

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Crews finished cleaning the snow and wreckage from the building before the end of March, Stelzer said in a blog post on the church’s website. The church plans to “beef up” existing truss rafters, and it's ordered replacement rafters, he said.

The church also will replace shingles on the entire roof since they are 10 years old, and church leaders want everything to match, he said in a blog post.

It’s too early to say exactly how much the repairs will cost, Stelzer said. “Suffice it to say, this will be in the mid-six figures,” he said.

Church members have taken the collapse well, he said, adding that he tries to keep them updated through his blog.

He said the congregation has been blessed throughout the ordeal, citing numerous entities, churches and community members who helped the parish in its time of need. Catholic churches in the region, as well as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Our Saviors Lutheran, have offered facilities for Mass and other events. Maintenance crews have worked overtime to clean up the mess.

“The parishioners of St. Francis de Sales are able to celebrate Eucharist and worship together as family at mostly the same times only temporarily in a different location,” Stelzer wrote.

Related:

Parish administrator Swede Stelzer says a closed partition saved an adjoining room from more damage when the roof collapsed last month under the weight of snow at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Moorhead. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Parish administrator Swede Stelzer says a closed partition saved an adjoining room from more damage when the roof collapsed last month under the weight of snow at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Moorhead. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor