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August 23, 2011

St. Patrick closed indefinitely after quake damage

The Archdiocese of Baltimore closed Historic St. Patrick Catholic Church in Fells Point indefinitely Tuesday after its steeple and bell tower were badly damaged in the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that shook Maryland Tuesday afternoon.

Archbishop Edwin O’Brien is scheduled to survey the damage to the113-year-old church on Wednesday morning. The archdiocese said it expects to determine then whether the parish hall can be used for Mass until the church is reopened.

If the hall is also deemed unsafe, the archdiocese said, parishioners will be encouraged to attend Mass at nearby Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Highlandtown.

O’Brien offered prayers for the parishioners of St. Patrick.

The church was founded in 1792; the current church was completed in 1898. The Rev. Robert Wojtek, Pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus, oversees its operation.

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 8:31 PM | | Comments (4)


My daughter and I, who live in Catonsville,MD 21228, felt the entire six rooms of the apartment shake. Thank God there were no items high on the shelves. It was an extremly nerve wrecking experience not knowing if this was an attack. I lived in NYC and worked on Wall Street but thru the grace of God was not in the office on 9/11.

The Diocese will probably use this as an excuse to do what they do best....shut down and demolish historic buildings.

Wasn't St Patrick's rebuilt from a fire relatively recently? Who was the structural engineer that designed a steeple that could collapse in such a situation?

The Diocese will undoubtedly find it more economical to demolish the building than restore it.

LEC, St. Patrick's wooden sanctuary roof collapsed in a fire in the early 1980s, but the stone bell tower at the southeast corner of the church (by the corner of Broadway and Bank Street) wasn't really affected back then. I doubt that any structural repairs to the bell tower were needed as a result of the fire, whereas the roof had to be completely rebuilt.

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About Matthew Hay Brown
Matthew Hay Brown writes and blogs about faith and values in public and private life for The Baltimore Sun. A former Washington correspondent for the newspaper, he has long written about the intersection of religion and politics. He has reported from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, traveling most recently to Syria and Jordan to write about the Iraqi refugee crisis.

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