USA: Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in North Carolina torched

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USA: Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in North Carolina torched

By Jonah McKeown/ catholicnewsagency.com

A fire tore through the parish offices of a historic Catholic church in Monroe, North Carolina early Monday morning, July 27, and though the damage is extensive, the church's pastor is thankful that the blaze did not touch the main sanctuary or the Blessed Sacrament.

Fr. Benjamin Roberts told CNA he arrived at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church on Monday morning, ready to celebrate daily Mass, to find the parish office building had burned to the ground. He was shaken, but he resolved to celebrate Mass outdoors in the outdoor grotto, as scheduled.

"I told people: I don't have much information, and I'd appreciate it if you’d not ask me anything [yet] because I don't have a lot of information, and my staff doesn't have any more information than I do. But I need the consolation of the Eucharist," he said.

In preaching the homily, Fr. Roberts said he sought to remind his parishioners that although the old church building was damaged, God is still present in the community of His people.

He said investigators have told him that the cause of the July 28 fire is still "undetermined," and though investigations strongly suspect that it was an accident, and not arson, they have not yet reached a conclusion, he said. No one was hurt.

"I was relieved to hear that there was no evidence of arson or anything else. We hadn't had any threats, but there have been so many [arsons] throughout the country and throughout the world, so that was a grave concern for me," Roberts told CNA, referring to attacks against Catholic churches and statues in recent weeks.

"But once I heard that, I was relieved on a certain level."

The early 1990s-era building that holds the parish offices--normally used by Fr. Roberts, his secretary, and administrative assistant--were completely destroyed, and along with them many of the parish records.

The priest said there was also some damage done to the original church, which was built in 1945 and is attached to the parish offices. The main stained glass window in the chapel above the altar was destroyed.

Providentially, Roberts said, the Blessed Sacrament was not in the chapel tabernacle at the time of the fire. The priest had moved it to the main church building, which also was untouched.

"Lots of support, lots of promises of prayers from our parishioners, and from people all over," he said.

"There's been this unexplainable sense of peace today...recognizing the presence of the Lord and wanting to take the next step and the step after that. It's a wonderfully supportive community here."

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 12:05
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