Is a savior or destroyer coming for Tacoma Catholic church? Fate of landmark to be decided Saturday

Will Tacoma’s Holy Rosary Catholic Church once again host masses and weddings or will it be turned into rubble?

The church’s fate has already been decided but parishioners won’t find out until evening mass on Saturday.

“A letter from the Archbishop will be read to the congregants,” said Laurie Halte, Holy Rosary’s office manager. She referred further queries to the Archdiocese of Seattle.

The decision before Archbishop J. Peter Sartain is whether to spend at least $10 million to repair the structure or tear it down.

“It will either be a party — kicking off enormous fundraising ... or it will be a crazy bunch of people screaming about their important landmark,” parishioner Joy Donohue wrote in an e-mail.

The century-old icon with its 210-foot-high steeple is too is too dangerous to occupy now, according to the Archdiocese.

The letter will be read at the end of the 5 p.m. mass on Saturday, said Helen McClenahan, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese.

Mass and other services have been held in an auditorium next to the church since November. That’s when a 5-by-5 foot piece of plaster ceiling fell into the choir loft at the neo-Gothic style church located at 424 S. 30th St., adjacent to Interstate 5.

“The concern was there could be other pieces falling in the more heavily populated areas of the church,” Joe Sprague, a spokesman for the Archdiocese said at the time.

Although it was the Holy Rosary Parish that was responsible for coming up with the $10 million the decision to keep the building or destroy it is being made by the Archdiocese.

Craig Sailor has worked for The News Tribune for 20 years as a reporter, editor and photographer. He previously worked at The Olympian and at other newspapers in Nevada and California.