St. James Catholic Church freezing due to broken gas line

FRANKLIN (WITI) -- St. James Catholic Church in Franklin is temporarily shut down while a broken gas line is investigated. Hundreds of parishoners are looking for other accommodations over the weekend.

"All masses canceled for the weekend," said parish director Dan Hull. "We're asking our parishoners to go to our neighboring parishes."

Parish workers noticed the smell of natural gas on Monday, March 10th. Church leaders quickly canceled or rescheduled several activities including bible study, boy scout meetings and three weekend masses.

It seems a gas line running directly under the church parking lot broke. Hull believes a number of factors caused the problem including the long, cold winter and the fact that the building is nearly 50 years old.

One major issue facing the church is that the furnace runs on gas.

"It's just not conducive to worship to be sitting there bundled up in their jackets," said Hull.

Crews from We Energies investigated the source of the leak, drilling several holes in the parking lot -- a space the parish spent $250,000 reconstructing last summer. We Energies will attempt to run a new line to the building through a nearby field in the hopes of avoiding further damage to the lot.

There is no word on how much the necessary project will cost, but church leaders hope everything will be back to normal by next week.

"We just want to remind parishoners, even though they're not here, that the bills still come to their parish. We encourage them to make contributions back to their parish," said Hull.

The lack of heat at St. James only impacted the church. Many planned activities were moved to the parish office on the other side of the parking lot.