Marble block by marble block, that’s how parishioners at Mary Our Queen Church hope to move a historic, basilica-style church in Buffalo, N.Y., to the Atlanta suburbs.
Backers of the idea—dubbed “preservation through relocation”—see it as an opportunity to reuse an architectural gem for a parish that has outgrown its own church.
It is nearly 1,000 miles between the snow belt of New York to the growing parish in Norcross, but supporters said the plan would allow the former St. Gerard Church to once again be a spiritual home for Catholics.
How does one move a church of this size?
“It is quite simple. It is not very complicated. The last things they did will be the first things we do. But it is not going to Home Depot and buying a ready-made church,” said Father David Dye, the administrator of Mary Our Queen.
Taking down the church is done piece by piece. What happens is a team of architects performs what is essentially a CAT scan of the building to figure out how to take it apart like a puzzle. The blocks are numbered and the building is taken down. The reverse would be done in Georgia: The numbered blocks are put back together again as the building rises on the 15 acres of Mary Our Queen parish.
The Atlanta Archdiocese is undergoing a growth spurt and the Catholic Church in Buffalo grows smaller with an abundance of church buildings and the diocese slated to close 20 churches. Estimates put the number of Catholics in North Georgia at 750,000.
The Norcross parish has a fundraising campaign to replace its 15,000-square-foot temporary church. The 750 families have outgrown the building.
Father Dye floated the idea: buy and move a classic church. He visited places in the Boston Archdiocese and elsewhere before finding the Buffalo church.
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