A year later, new life, new name for St. Joseph's in Ridgway | Community Spirit
Built in the 19th century, St. Joseph Catholic Church, in Ridgway, was destroyed by the February 29,2012 tornado that tore through southern Illinois. A new church is being planned, and will have a new name: St. Kateri , after the North American woman who was just canonized as a saint last October.
The church will hold a Leap Day Tornado Anniversary Observance this Friday, March 1 at 6 p.m. on the grounds of the church at 205 W. South St., Ridgway.
There will be a short memorial outside, then the observance will move inside the gymnasium/parish center for the Stations of the Cross (traditional service on Lenten Fridays), a meal, and then a presentation detailing where plans stand now and a vision for the future.
Parish priest, Fr. Steven L. Beatty, who narrowly escaped from rectory attached to the church during the EF-4 twister, will preside.
St. Joseph was seen by many as the “heartbeat of the town". Its steeple was visible for many miles and served as a landmark of navigation and community life. The church gymnasium was a community center for the town of 800 people.
The altar was about the only thing salvageable, miraculously surviving the winds. It was carefully preserved by John Rigali (Daprato Rigali Studios of Chicago), who, remarkably, discovered during the work that his great-grandfather in Italy had been among the original craftsmen of the altar.
The architectural firm of Cram & Ferguson are designing the new church which needs to seat 350 - 400 people.
Some insurance money will help, but parishioners say much is needed to approach the beauty of what was lost.
Fund raising is underway. You can help construct St. Kateri on line at www.stkateri.net or by mail to:
St. Kateri Building Fund, 205 West South St., Ridgway IL 62979.
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