Vatican decision could restore Tacoma's Holy Rosary

Longtime parishioners at Tacoma’s Holy Rosary Church are celebrating a decision by the Vatican that could save their beloved church from demolition. 

Members of the group, Save Tacoma’s Landmark Church, claim their attorney in Rome reported the Vatican ruled in their favor. It's a judgment that could pave the way to restoring the now-shuttered sanctuary and reopening it once again for mass. 

Joy Donohue, who attended Holy Rosary’s K-8 school as a child, expressed relief at the news, stating, "Everyone is just overjoyed. They’re ecstatic that it looks like we can save the church after all."

Despite the jubilation among parishioners, the Archdiocese remains cautious, with a spokesperson declining to comment until official confirmation from the Vatican is received. All communications, they noted, are conducted through traditional channels, indicating that it may take some time before the final decision is made public.

Crowds first rallied at the Tacoma landmark back in 2019 after learning the Archdiocese of Seattle planned to knock down the century-old structure and sell the land. Church leadership argued attendance had dwindled and the gothic-style church had fallen into disrepair. Total repair costs were estimated around $17 million. 

"This decree is focused on relegating the church to profane but not sordid, which simply means that because of the precarious state of the building, it can no longer be used for divine worship," said Archdiocese spokesperson, Helen McClenahan.

Winferd Baker, another former student of the Holy Rosary's school, is among those leading the charge to preserve this piece of history. Baker says the distinctive steeple has been a defining feature of Tacoma's skyline since its construction in 1920.

"The first thing that people notice about Holy Rosary is the steeple," Baker said. "You can see it from the freeway."

Over the years, their cause has gained steam, echoing through Puget Sound parishes. Members say even atheists have expressed their support. Group members expressed hope to FOX 13 that they can now work alongside the Archdiocese to ensure a bright future for the church. 


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Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the building as a cathedral. The article has been updated.