Fire-ravaged church hopes Polish Fest will raise funds for demolition

The church is trying to raise funds after the fire. (FOX 9)

A few precious artifacts, pictures, memories and the charred shell of a church are all that remain of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Polish National Catholic Church.

On April 19th, the more than 100-year-old historic church was devastated by a massive fire, leaving behind an expensive mess to clean up.

"The past few months were really difficult for this parish, the congregation and myself and my family. We are really still grieving because this is a huge loss," said Reverend John Kutek.

Now, Kutek says the congregation needs to raise more than $70,000 to tear the church down before it's condemned by the city of Minneapolis.

According to Kutek, city officials have given the church the deadline of July 29th to have a plan in place to demolish the building on their own.

If not, they'll have to pay the city a lot more to do it for them.

"With that due date, it will be very difficult to do demolition, but this is the process, and we are doing what we can do," said Kutek.

The congregation hopes Saturday's Polish Fest will help them meet their goal. Parishioners like Candy Lach are working to help make that happen. She was married at Sacred Heart 50 years ago. Her three children were also married there, and her eight grandchildren were baptized there.

"They can take our church, but they couldn’t take what’s in our heart," said Lach.

In addition to games and raffles, the festival will feature lots of Polish food and fun.

The fire left spirits bruised, but it didn't break this tight-knit community.

If they can raise the money needed, it will be bittersweet for Kutek. He will have to say goodbye to the physical structure of the church, but will be able to rebuild, stronger than before.

"Through demolition, we can build something new, so there is resurrection from the ashes," said Kutek.

He said fire investigators haven't determined the official cause of the fire yet, and they may never be able to. The building is unsafe for anyone to enter it to do further examination, but Kutek believes this was arson and the fire was intentionally set.

Polish Fest will take place on Saturday, July 17 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 420 22nd Ave NE in Minneapolis.

The church has also established a GoFundMe page to help with the cost of rebuilding the church.