Moorhead church rallying to protect structure from snow, rain after roof collapse

Piles of insulation material and snow are seen Monday, March 11, in what was the social hall of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Moorhead. The roof collapsed Sunday after a snow storm dropped about 9 inches of snow in Moorhead. Church services have been relocated to St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Dilworth, Minn., and St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Moorhead. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum
Piles of insulation material and snow are seen Monday, March 11, in what was the social hall of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Moorhead. The roof collapsed Sunday after a snow storm dropped about 9 inches of snow in Moorhead. Church services have been relocated to St. Elizabeth Catholic Church in Dilworth, Minn., and St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Moorhead. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum

MOORHEAD — St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church was working Monday, March 11, to confront the aftermath of a major roof collapse over the weekend.

The church at 601 15th Ave. N. is quickly trying to cover a gaping hole created by the collapse and protect what remains of the church before a wintry mix of snow and rain hits the area possibly Wednesday and Thursday.

Comstock Construction of Fargo planned to begin working to enclose the exposed area Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning at the latest, according to Matt Gourde, a project manager and estimator with Comstock.

The roof over the church's social hall collapsed at about noon Sunday after a storm brought about 9 inches of heavy wet snow to Fargo-Moorhead. Sunday services had been canceled due to the weather, and no one was hurt in the collapse.

Cub Scout Pack 633 had planned a French toast breakfast at the church from 11:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Sunday. That event was also canceled. "We would call that God's providence," said Janelle Gergen, a spokeswoman for the Crookston Diocese.

A poster for a Cub Scout Pack 633 fundraiser hangs in the office at St. Francis de Sales Church in Moorhead on Monday, March 11. The French toast breakfast was cancelled along with church services Sunday due to winter weather. During the same time as the cancelled breakfast, the roof over the church's social hall collapsed under heavy snow. No one was hurt. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum
A poster for a Cub Scout Pack 633 fundraiser hangs in the office at St. Francis de Sales Church in Moorhead on Monday, March 11. The French toast breakfast was cancelled along with church services Sunday due to winter weather. During the same time as the cancelled breakfast, the roof over the church's social hall collapsed under heavy snow. No one was hurt. Ann Arbor Miller / The ForumAnn Arbor Miller

The church has suspended all Masses and activities until further notice. The church pastor, Father Raul Perez-Cobo, was not available to comment on the situation Monday, but Bishop Michael Hoeppner issued a statement.

"We are sad to hear that the roof of St. Francis de Sales beautiful hall succumbed to the snow, but we are grateful to God that no one was hurt,” the bishop said. “The faithful of St. Francis form a wonderful parish community and I know they are eager already to rebuild what was lost.”

Volunteers worked Monday to remove snow from parts of the roof that did not collapse.

The office and church portions of the building, which was completed in 1996, appeared undamaged but were being inspected for safety, according to Our Northland Diocese, the diocese newspaper.

Volunteers working to remove snow make their way across a section of roof at St. Francis de Sales Church in Moorhead on Monday, March 11. This portion of the roof is above the church sanctuary and was not visibly damaged when the roof above the dining hall collapsed on Sunday, March 10, after a heavy snowfall. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum
Volunteers working to remove snow make their way across a section of roof at St. Francis de Sales Church in Moorhead on Monday, March 11. This portion of the roof is above the church sanctuary and was not visibly damaged when the roof above the dining hall collapsed on Sunday, March 10, after a heavy snowfall. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum

In a preliminary determination, fire officials found that the cause of the collapse was the snow load on the roof, but structural engineers are expected to look into whether there were any other contributing factors, Moorhead Assistant Fire Chief Benton Hicks said.

Along with the church, three businesses in the Fargo-Moorhead area reported roof collapses on Sunday. No one was injured.