A statue of Mary is seen amid debris outside Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church in Dayton, Ohio, after a tornado ripped through the area. On May 27, the massive tornado tore through Dayton, one of Ohio’s largest cities, doing extensive damage and knocking out power and water to thousands of people. CNS photo/The Catholic Telegraph

A ‘little miracle’ in the midst of destruction

By  John Stegeman, Catholic News Service
  • June 6, 2019

DAYTON, Ohio -- Although Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church in Dayton sustained significant damage from the May 27 tornadoes that swept through the southwestern region of the state, a statue of Mary on the property remained standing next to the ruined bell tower.

“It was pretty staggering to see this amount of damage, the extent of it. Every building we have here is damaged,” said Don Tomczak, volunteer maintenance director for the parish. “The amazing thing everyone has commented on is the Mary statue having rubble all around it but not being touched. That was our little miracle.”

The Northridge neighbourhood of Dayton, where Queen of Martyrs is located, was hit particularly hard by over 225 km/h winds. Nearly every home in the area sustained some damage and several structures were destroyed.

Large portions of the church roof were torn off and a corner of the main building was heavily damaged. A free-standing brick bell tower that stood in front of the parish was destroyed. Inside, skylights in the narthex were blown out and ceiling tiles fell near the tabernacle.

A state of emergency was declared in three Ohio counties where the severe winds caused at least one death and more than 150 injuries. The local St. Vincent de Paul Society teamed with the Red Cross to feed 135 individuals at temporary shelters. More than 36 hours after the storm, Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley reported 47,000 people were without power and 17,000 were without water.

The Catholic Telegraph, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, which includes Dayton and other areas affected by the storms, reported at least two other Catholic churches suffered damage from downed trees.

The storms triggered massive power outages across the state, which affected water plants and pump stations that prompted the city’s boil water advisory and the closure of public schools May 28.

While churches are insured, the real struggle in the wake of the tornadoes will be getting services to people in need. Laura Roesch, CEO of Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley, based in Dayton, said that many of the neighbourhoods affected were already struggling.

“Some of these are already struggling communities in terms of poverty and financial challenges,” she said. “Natural disasters hit the poor in a very significant way. ... The needs are urgent, and they are immediate.”

Roesch said her organization and others such as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are working together to reach out with food and financial assistance. 

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location

Support The Catholic Register

Unlike many other news websites, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our site. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.