Parishioners pushing to save 110-year-old Utah church from possible sale

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SALT LAKE CITY — There's a large parcel of land in a prime location, here in Salt Lake that's owned by the Catholic church, and parishioners were told it could be sold.

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church rests at the corner of 11th and 7th and has been a community center for Catholics and other organizations for the past 110 years.

"You feel at home there, you feel centered," Brent Steele, a parishioner for more than a decade said.

Nearly 300 parishioners attend Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, and mass is presented in three different languages.

"We have a Korean community, we have the Filipino community, and we have a Hispanic community," said Kathy Scott, a former employee of the Catholic diocese and a parishioner since 1996.

In October, parishioners found a letter, informing them "that the diocese is exploring the possibility of selling the property" in hopes to build a "new state-of-the-art facility in a different area."

If successful, parishioners would move worship services to Saint Ann's Church in Salt Lake City.

The property listed 8.29 acres, including Judge Memorial High School and the historic Our Lady of Lourdes Church.

"I feel like you can sell everything else, but this parish is sacred to me," said Annabelle Steele, a parishioner who just graduated from Judge Memorial High School.

The church building isn't just sacred for parishioners, it's also a part of Utah's history.

"It's a treasure that belongs really to the state of Utah," Scott said.

The story of Our Lady of Lourdes Church began first with the Judge Memorial Home and Hospital, which later served patients during the Spanish Flu pandemic.

"Rather than have to use the hospital's chapel, it was decided to open Lourdes parish," said Scott.

The cornerstone for the church was laid in 1913, and a year later the church opened its doors.

The historic church has also been home for multiple charities and organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous, who have met at the church for 50 years.

The church has also been a place of upbringing for families like Steele and his kids.

"It's meant a lot to me as his father, that he and his sister have been able to be part of this parish, this beautiful church and to come to know God," Steele said.

From watching his son's first communion, to his daughter helping as an altar server, Our Lady of Lourdes Church has been where Steele's family has found spiritual refuge.

"I've never felt closer to God, to another parish, and to a set of parishioners than I do to Our Lady of Lourdes," Steele said.

The tightknit community found there has inspired parishioners to speak out against the potential sale.

Scott made yard signs and gathered around 1,000 postcards to send to the diocese expressing their support in selling the property but requested the 6,467 square foot church on the corner remain.

"This is not a controversy," Scott said. "We don't want to, in any way, be antagonistic. We just want to save this beautiful and historic church."

KSL 5 News reached out to the Catholic diocese for an interview, which they declined. When asked about the sale, the diocese said there was no sale, just the possibility of a sale.

The diocese also denied KSL 5 News access to film mass at the church.

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UtahSalt Lake CountyReligionHistoric
Erin Cox
Erin Cox is an Emmy sward-winning special projects reporter for KSL-TV.


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