After derecho took Md. church’s steeple, replacement finally comes

KENSINGTON, Md. — For the past two years and two months something’s been missing at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Kensington, Maryland. All the neighbors noticed and the pastor, Father Mark Hughes, felt the loss.

“After the steeple came down, I started noticing all the steeples in the city,” Hughes says.

The church’s steeple and cross, erected when the church was built in 1962, came tumbling down in the June 2012 derecho.

“A lot of the parishoners live within a block or two of the parish…every morning they would look out and see the cross there and when it went down, the big thing was ‘our view is ruined, you gotta get the new cross up.’ So it’s been the talk of the neighborhood for the past two years,” says Hughes.

The church parish includes an elementary school with grades pre-K through 8.

On Monday, before workmen raised the steeple and cross, nearly 400 of the school’s pupils touched the cross and said a prayer.


Crews begin to lift the new cross. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

Then cranes were used to place the 32-foot copper steeple atop the chruch’s bell tower. With the steeple in place, the crane gently hoisted the 8 foot tall cross, while a workman riding a cherry picker on a second crane nudged the copper cross into place.

The church’s project manager Dan Boyland liked what he saw.

“It’s exactly what we had planned and what we had hoped and it’s lovely. Everybody who has seen it loves it,” says Boyland.

The cross rests on a sphere, signifying the world. The horizontal arms of the cross end in points, suggesting God’s dominion over the entire world.

Boyland believes the new steeple and cross will withstand the worst Mother Nature can throw at it.

“This one has been weatherproofed. We have a different bracket and bolting system so it will last 200 years,” Boyland says.

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