Donations, pledges help church’s replacement fund top $300,000 in effort to raise $550,000
St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Port Washington has started a $550,000 roof-replacement campaign with a significant head start on the ambitious goal.
An ad hoc committee planning the roof project hopes to have sufficient donations, or at least pledges, in place by the end of March.
The slate roof atop the landmark church has been in place for 135 years without undergoing significant structural repair. However, it is starting to show signs of failure from weather, erosion and wear.
The timing of the replacement project is critical, church leaders said, to avoid sustaining substantial structural and plaster damage.
“Timing is of the essence,” said planning committee spokesman Jim Kitzinger.
“We want to let bids so we can get things started in August, which will give the contractor a good chance to get it done before the weather gets bad.”
Originally, church leaders had considered placing a less expensive metal-panel roof on the building, but it was thought a similar slate roof would last another 100 years or more and be more in keeping with the historic nature of the structure.
The building was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
Over the years, a roof replacement fund had accumulated $150,000 in memorial donations.
As talk of the current roof project spread, another $150,000 in donations and pledges have been made even before the public replacement campaign began.
Most of those donations, including three family gifts which Kitzinger characterized as “substantial,” have been made anonymously.
“Historically, capital campaigns launch after a ‘quiet’ period when donations are solicited privately,” Kitzinger said.
“We were fortunate to have $150,000 in the till from the start. We were then able to contact a number people who have been generous supporters of the Catholic community, and the community as a whole, and got another $150,000 in commitments. Some other people just started sending checks.”
Pledges toward the roof project are now being accepted and can be made as a single payment or over a three-year period.
The financial breakdown for the slate roof: materials, $160,000; removal and disposal of old roof, $98,000; labor, $270,000; permits and equipment rental, $17,000; overhead, $5,000.
A website has been created for the campaign — www.stmarysroof.org.
The site includes a short history of the church, a project description, an online pledge form and contact information.
Questions can be directed to campaign chairman Patrick Jentges at
or treasurer Julie Russell at
The offices of the Port Washington-Saukville cluster of Catholic churches can be reached at 284-5771.
A YouTube video of Father Patrick Wendt discussing the roof project at a recent Mass has also been posted.