‘God will get us through this’: Historic Fort Scott Catholic church suffers major damage in fire
FORT SCOTT, Kan. (KCTV) - A Fort Scott Catholic church built in the 19th century sustained extensive damage Monday night into Tuesday morning due to a fire.
Mary Queen of Angels Catholic Church, whose parish origins trace back to the 1860s, caught fire just before 9:15 p.m. Fire personnel arrived on scene to see heavy smoke and flames coming from the southeast corner of the church.
The response went well into the Tuesday morning hours, with multiple surrounding agencies assisting the Fort Scott Fire Department. A firefighter suffered a minor injury, and was treated and released.
St. Mary’s Catholic School released a statement saying school was canceled Tuesday for safety reasons and that administration was working on a return plan.
“There is no faith community more devout, fierce, or resolute than ours. God will get us through this, stronger than ever!” the school posted to social media.
Fort Scott fire officials said the state fire marshal’s office was investigating the incident.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the parishioners of St Mary’s Church, and the members of our community who have been affected by this tragedy,” the fire department stated.
Josh Regan, a principal at the school, heard the strike that likely caused the fire. He said he and others in the parish had no idea it had been smoldering through the afternoon.
“Nobody was able to catch it,” he said.
The parish in Fort Scott dates back to the 1860s. The church building is more than 150 years old.
Throughout the day, several members of the church came to pray. Narine Crossland said a Hail Mary as well as the Lord’s Prayer as she knelt by the taped off steps to the church.
“I’m heartbroken,” she said after. “It’s where God resides and it burned.”
Regan was saddened by the damage, too. But, like many parishioners, he believed that parts of the church could be salvaged. The fire department contained the damage to the roof. Though the sanctuary had extensive water and smoke damage, the structure of the building remained intact.
“We know that many generations have sacrificed to make it a beautiful church and a beautiful faith community,” Regan said. “We’re looking at it now like it’s our turn to sacrifice and make sure it carries on.”
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