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Flooded Cedar Rapids church to hold first-post flood mass on Easter

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Armchair_QB, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member


    118-year-old St. Patrick's church to reopen on Sunday.

    This one is a little personal to me as it is the church my parents were married in and I was baptized in.

    Cedar Rapids, Ia. — If a church is a body, St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Cedar Rapids will learn on Easter how badly it was injured in the June floods.

    The 118-year-old church just west of downtown counted nearly 1,000 families as members before the Cedar River swelled to record levels, the Rev. Philip Thompson said. The neighborhood surrounding the limestone giant remains largely in ruins, and Thompson estimated the parish may have lost 20 percent of its members.

    "A good number of them are never coming back," he said.

    The good news is that St. Patrick's will celebrate Masses on Sunday for the first time since the flood caused at least $750,000 damage to the church.

    The 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Masses, which Archbishop Jerome Hanus will attend, will be a homecoming for families who have been worshipping at neighboring St. Ludmila's Catholic Church.

    "I'm eager to see everyone," said Ken Goodell, 67, who has been a St. Patrick's member for more than 40 years.

    Goodell, a carpenter with weathered hands and a halo of gray hair, is among a group of tradesmen who have donated their time to restore St. Patrick's.

    "This parish has a lot of working-class families," Goodell said. Plumbers, painters and electricians - many of them retired - don't have fat checkbooks, but they have their hands.

    4 feet of water

    Polluted water filled the church's basement and then rose nearly 4 feet in the sanctuary, destroying wooden pews, carpet and 100 yards of wainscoting.

    Workers restored vintage features, put in new heating and cooling systems, and enlarged the reconciliation chapel, where a parishioner meets a priest for confession.

    St. Patrick's had $500,000 in flood insurance. The remaining $250,000 has come from the church's savings and donations.

    Pat Hanson, 77, of Cedar Rapids, wants to see the renovations to the spiritual home where she was baptized and married. The last time she was in the building, the floor had been gutted.

    "It just looked so devastated," she said.

    Fumes from glue, not incense, permeated the sanctuary on a recent visit as workers kneeled to lay new carpet. A cup of coffee and a box with one cookie sat on the altar where Thompson and Hanus will distribute bread and wine on Sunday.

    Words for believers

    Above the altar, carved into arches of Italian marble, are words reminding believers of Christ's promise, fulfilled on Easter.

    "I am the Resurrection and The Life. He that Believeth in Me Shall Live."

    Thompson believes St. Patrick's will have new life after last year's floods.

    Many of the houses nearby will be purchased and demolished to make way for a proposed $1 billion project that would include levees, floodwalls and green space that would be allowed to flood.

    "We're pretty sure the church will be on the dry side of the floodwall," Thompson said. "This area could be redeveloped."

    Long-term success

    The church's long-term health will depend on whether a smaller, aging parish can support two large buildings and a mission that includes Catholic education, said Msgr. James Barta, vicar general for the Archdiocese of Dubuque. St. Patrick's still must overhaul its flood-damaged parish center.

    New single-family housing could bring young families to the neighborhood, possibly resulting in larger Catholic school enrollment, Barta said. Upscale development, such as high-rise condominiums, could mean more well-heeled worshippers.

    "There could be a demographic shift, that is possible," Barta said. "The question is, will there be and when?"

    For now, though, the church is basking in its own resurrection.

    "We never planned to get back in there by Easter," Hanson said.

    "It will certainly be nice to be back."
  2. dargan

    dargan Active Member

    Pretty cool, AQB.
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