Sacred Heart Oratory in Wilmington will be getting a new look this fall as workers replace its damaged steeple. The steeple, which was rusted and perhaps damaged by lightning in the early 1970s, was removed this week.
A storm last fall caused problems with some of the flashing around the steeple, and there was the possibility of loose bricks at the top of the tower, Brother Ronald Giannone told The Dialog recently. Brother Ronald, a Capuchin Franciscan priest, is the executive director of the Ministry of Caring, which operates the oratory and whose offices are located next door in the former rectory of Sacred Heart Parish.
Peter McCarthy, who co-chairs a committee to raise money for the steeple restoration, said the new steeple will look like the church’s original. The price of the project is $650,000, with a donor having loaned the Ministry of Caring the money to have the work done. Thus far, $12,000 has been raised to repay the loan.
Scaffolding has surrounded the oratory, at 917 N. Madison St. in Wilmington’s Trinity Vicinity, for weeks. Safety netting was placed around the steeple before workers started removing it on Aug. 15.
Sacred Heart was established as a parish in 1874 for German immigrants. The diocese closed the church as a parish in 1996, but the Ministry of Caring reopened it as an oratory two years later. The ministry holds daily Mass there at noon and on Sundays at 9 a.m. The church interior was restored in 2003.