Local Leaders Call on Catholic Diocese of Toledo to save St. Anthony Catholic Church

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, former Toledo mayors Paula Hicks-Hudson and Carty Finkbeiner, members of Toledo City Council, and Lucas County Land Bank President David Mann Saturday called on the Catholic Diocese of Toledo to save St. Anthony Catholic Church at Nebraska and Junction avenues.

“As long as St. Anthony’s Church is still standing, I cling to the hope that it can be saved,” Mayor Kapszukiewicz said. “Once this historic structure is gone, it can never be replaced.”

The church is an important part of Toledo’s history, the mayor said. It was one of several Catholic churches in that Polish stronghold neighborhood that was filled every Sunday with immigrants.

Miss Kaptur, in a column published in The Blade on May 23, 2018, said: “I believe a repurposed St. Anthony’s structure can play a role in revitalizing Toledo. To lose its quiet elegance that prior generations sacrificed greatly to construct diminishes us as a people and as a community.”

Miss Kaptur on Saturday said: “Destruction of irreplaceable landmarks, particularly when there have been no community or public hearings, is a brutal act. Part of Toledo’s unique history will be obliterated. As I have shared with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Toledo Daniel Thomas, ‘I would welcome the opportunity to join a working group to reimagine St. Anthony’s for the future. The respected Toledo Design Center has offered its help in this regard. Let us better link downtown through the revitalizing Nebraska corridor.’ Even a portion of the hundreds of thousands of dollars that are to be directed to demolition can be dedicated as a down payment to attract necessary public and private investment toward initial repairs to ready the building for future reinvestment and reuse. How very sad it is that the demolition equipment is being staged without even one public hearing on this weighty structure and no consultation with the people living and working in the Junction/Nebraska corridor. In situations like this, some might ask, ‘What would Jesus do?’ Surely, He would walk with the people and plant his cross with them. This has not occurred despite requested attempts by citizens from all walks of life.”

Toledo Councilman Peter Ujvagi called it a sin to raze the building.

“St. Anthony Church is an architectural and cultural treasure to that neighborhood, and to the entire city of Toledo,” Councilman Ujvagi said. “We need to save this building. Once it is gone, we will all realize what a sin it was to raze such an important part of our community.”

Councilwoman Yvonne Harper, who represents District 4, where the church stands, said the community should rally together to save the historic building.

“This church is an important part of our history in D4,” Ms. Harper said. “We should do everything we can to save it.”

City leaders are consulting with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality in an attempt to halt the demolition scheduled to start Monday.

Since February, Congresswoman Kaptur and her staff have made repeated attempts to work with the diocese to evaluate the building and consider alternatives to demolition.

The Lucas County Land Bank is also trying to save the building.

“The Land Bank reached out to the Diocese in February to discuss the future of St. Anthony Church, but we were told by the Diocese that they were unwilling to meet,” said Mr. Mann, president and chief executive officer of the Land Bank. “The Land Bank welcomes the chance to have that meeting before this historic asset is demolished.”