Fall River St. Mary Lumen Christi Cathedral Gala to Fund Repairs

FALL RIVER — A city ​​icon needs some restoration work, and it’s going to need some help doing it.

It’s been just over 20 years since the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, 327 2nd St., underwent renovations, and those repairs were more cosmetic than structural.

Now the structure will undergo more critical repairs in several areas, including the roof, bell tower and its historic stained glass windows.

Deacon Alan Thadeu said while the roof doesn’t appear to be in terrible condition overall, some sections are “very problematic”. In particular, above the bishop’s crypt, when it rains, a considerable amount of water enters the building with the resulting deterioration.

Deacon Alan Thadeu talks about the work that needs to be done on St. Mary's steeple.

He said there are several other small leaks in the main part of the cathedral which are also a problem, and that although they are not currently leaking, the tar and gravel roofs above the sacristy and the Notre-Dame chapel are in poor condition.

The gutter system also needs work.

As for the bell tower, it “has lost a few pieces of its exterior stone masonry as well as part of the belfry’s wooden moldings,” Thadeu said.

He also believes that the internal structure of the bell tower “shows significant deterioration”.

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The history of the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption

St. Mary’s is significant to the history of Fall River, inside and out.

Originally a parish church, it was built from 1852 to 1856. The steeple was completed in 1858, rising over 190 feet above the ground. It became a cathedral in 1904, when the Diocese of Fall River was created. Today it is the main church of the diocese, where the Most Reverend Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha in his chair. The cathedral and rectory were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

St. Mary's Falls River.

The neo-Gothic style building also houses historic stained glass windows, which also need repairs, except for the rose window, which Thadeu says is “in good condition”. The oldest windows, of German origin, are in the nave, and were installed in 1891.

“Almost all windows need some level of repair. Some windows are on the verge of falling and need extensive restoration while others just need patching, painting and protective coating replacement,” Thadeu said.

Rusty and leaky stained glass windows in St. Mary's.

Other repairs needed

As for the presbytery building, the gutter system needs to be repaired but the roof remains in good condition. Thadeu noted, however, that there was damage from the polyurethane caulking, which “has deteriorated to the point that it impairs the performance of the underlying mortar and causes accelerated deterioration of the masonry in allowing water to seep into the building.”

There’s also a stone-covered walkway between the presbytery and the Notre-Dame chapel, a popular spot for prom photos, which Thadeu says “is almost totally dilapidated.”

“In general, there’s a lot of cosmetic work to be done on the interior,” Thadeu said.

Peeling and peeling paint in St. Mary's.

This includes repairing the plaster, upgrading the boiler’s electrical system and computer controls, and increasing the overall efficiency of the cathedral’s heating and cooling system.

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Lumen Chrisi Gala to raise funds for repairs

To that end, St. Mary’s is looking for help.

There is a LumenChristi gala scheduled for Wednesday, June 8 at 6 p.m. at White’s in Westport.

Profits will be used to fund repairs to the cathedral.

“This church is so important to the life of our entire diocese and it is important that everyone is involved in it,” Bishop da Cunha said in a press release. “We want to bring everyone together to celebrate this beautiful cathedral and raise funds for its restoration to ensure it continues to serve for many generations to come.”

The gala will include a multi-course meal, a program on the cathedral and entertainment by Vatican III, a jazz/funk quartet of Catholic clerics.

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For tickets to the gala, as well as more information, including sponsorship opportunities, visit www.catholicfoundationsema/cathedral-gala.

Herald News / Taunton Daily Gazette, Editor and Digital Producer, Kristina Fontes can be contacted at [email protected]. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Herald News and Taunton Daily Gazette today.

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