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updated: 7/28/2014 8:53 AM

Ridgway church rebuilding after tornado

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  • The stones from the old altar at the St. Joseph Catholic Church building in Ridgway are the only salvageable part of the old church after it was destroyed by a tornado Feb. 29, 2012.

      The stones from the old altar at the St. Joseph Catholic Church building in Ridgway are the only salvageable part of the old church after it was destroyed by a tornado Feb. 29, 2012.
    Photo/The Southern, Adam Testa

  • The Rev. Steven Beatty, of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Lily of the Mohawks, in Ridgway in front of the construction site where a new church for the parish is being built.

      The Rev. Steven Beatty, of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Lily of the Mohawks, in Ridgway in front of the construction site where a new church for the parish is being built.
    AP Photo/The Southern, Adam Testa

 
By ADAM TESTA
The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan

RIDGWAY-- Every beginning has a foundation, and the building of a new Catholic Church to replace one destroyed in the Leap Day Tornado two years ago has its.

"The foundation is going reasonably well," said the Rev. Steven Beatty. "So far so good."

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The new church, being built to replace the St. Joseph Catholic Church lost to the deadly tornado, is being built on the site of the former house of worship.

Amid the rubble and shards of glass, only a marble altar and its foundation survived. Some bells were also salvaged. Plans are to use the same altar and bells in the new, 10,000-square-foot church. The former foundation will be used as a place to pray, Beatty said.

"It'll be one of many places to pray. We'll all know those are the stones from the foundation of the old altar," he said.

The new church will also feature a 40-foot ceiling and 150-foot high steeple, he said. It is expected to seat slightly more than 400 people, a little larger than the former church.

In the fall of 2012, Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Belleville announced the formation of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Lily of the Mohawks Parish, in Ridgway. The new church is named in honor of St. Kateri, the first North American saint who was canonized in October 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.

The new parish includes St. Joseph in Equality, St. Patrick in the Pond Settlement and Immaculate Conception in Shawneetown. Beatty, named parish administrator, said each of the chapels will remain in use.

Construction on the roughly $6 million church started about four weeks ago and plans are to complete it by May or June next year, Beatty said.

About half the cost of construction is being paid through insurance; much of the rest has come from local and national donations, he said.

"We've got just some incredibly generous people from all kinds of places, especially locally," he said.

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