A prayer and a plea: Small Milwaukee church in shambles, need donations to remain open

A prayer and a plea: Small Milwaukee church in shambles, need donations to remain open

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- St. Mary's Ukrainian Orthodox Church needs the community's help to keep their doors open. The sound of church bells throughout Milwaukee serves as a sound of solace for many. While there are several places of worship in the city, only a few serve the Ukranian community.

The small church was built in the 1850's and moved twice. You can find it now at 1231 W. Scott Street in Milwaukee.

CBS 58 caught up with Parish Board President Sophia Torcivia and Treasurer Ed Bergey about the building's history.

"It went from a Baptist church to a Greek Catholic to a Greek Orthodox, and we are currently a Greek Orthodox church," said Torcivia.

Torcivia says it's been a comforting place to gather with others in the Ukranian community who are going through an extremely difficult time.

"The pending invasion of Ukraine. It's been kind of hard, sorry. Everybody still has somebody that's still living there," said Torcivia.

Now, staff are facing another emotional challenge. The church they love is currently in shambles.

"The ceiling is about to fall in in this section. We have bungee cords across, keeping the walls apart. We could use manual help, financial help, we need help," said Torcivia.

Church walls providing spiritual support for more than 100 years. Walls, treasurer and altar boy Ed Bergey hope to save.

"The joists in the attic that hold the roof up are the same joists that were there when it was built in1858. Many of them are breaking and as a consequence, the roof is starting to slide, and that's what is causing the outside walls to move out," said Bergey.

Staff say the church steps have also had to be redone several times. They would love to install a ramp as an added safety measure for older parishioners. Sophia and Ed say the church needs at least $60,000 to replace the roof so they can keep their doors open.

"It can't be fixed it has to be replaced," said Torcivia.

Saving this space would not only mean a great deal to its parishioners, but would also be preserving a piece of Milwaukee history.

"A majority of the people, members of the church are older, or as old as- than I am. I am 76. This is an important place for them. This is where the Ukrainian Orthodox people got together. You know there is a Ukrainian Catholic church down the street on 11th Street. Between these two churches that's it. That's it," said Bergey.

"We don't just come to church say our prayers and go. We gather, we talk, we interact, and we smile at each other you know. So, people know about another person here. You're never a stranger, " said Torcivia.

"This is an important thing for us. The church service is important. We have food we get together Those who are comfortable in the Ukrainian language they communicate with each other and it's just a great thing for them," said Bergey.

A great thing they hope to continue.

"If we stay here a future generation can also participate and keep it going. It's not just a place it’s a home," said Torcivia.

Torcivia says they are working on creating a GoFundMe page to help gather donations to rebuild the roof of the church. They welcome any donations at this time as well.

If you would like to mail a donation, that can be sent to St. Mary's Ukrainian Orthodox Church at 1231 W. Scott Street, Milwaukee, WI 53204.

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