Repairs needed for historic church

August 6, 2008 8:30:31 AM PDT
More than 100 years ago Irish immigrants built Holy Rosary church in East Harlem and now its age is taking a toll as bit by bit, the church is crumbling, but parishioners are determined to raise the money needed for repairs. The faded beauty of an east Harlem treasure still shines through, but its decline is striking.

Carmen Torres has been a parishioner at Holy Rosary church for 50 years.

"I feel really bad, really," said Tom Saltarelli.

Its walls are crumbling, the roof's leaking, the foundation's cracked.

The church needs $2 million in repairs.

That's where Tom Saltarelli comes in.

INCUE: this church to a lot of harlem residents was home OUTCUE: ...

Tom was born half a block away from Holy Rosary and now lives on Staten Island but he never forgot his old church and leads the fundraising fight to bring it back to its glory days.

"I came here to the church again, and I saw it was in such bad shape. Someone had to do something," adds Tom.

Tom's asking parishioners past and present to help out.

There's even a website that's spreading the word called

INCUE: becasue of the website, people have reconnected ..p/u up @ and we're making new friends, people we've never met

Those connections are bringing in donations, but Father Gilbert Centini says lots more is needed.

"It would be nice if we could all work together we could unify everybody," said Father Centini.

Dominick Di Certo has lived in East Harlem his whole life.

Times have changed but he knows the community will come through and save a piece of its past. "I have new hope now. A lot of hope knowing that all of a sudden the parishoners want to do what they can to restore the church to its original beauty," said Di Certo.

The Archdiocese of New York has given the church about $500,000.

The rest of the money for repairs will have to come from donations.

STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter N.J. Burkett

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