The aftermath of the church fire in St. Isidore, Ontario, July 24, 2016. Photo/Courtesy of JFDroneMaster via Facebook

St. Isidore mourns after fire destroys Eastern Ontario town’s Catholic parish

  • July 26, 2016

Although the flames are licked and the smouldering has stopped, the Catholic community of St. Isidore, Ont., continues to weep over the loss of their only local house of worship.

At about 4 p.m. July 23, fire broke out at St. Isidore Catholic Church in the town about 75 km east of Ottawa. Fire crews were unable to save much more than the exterior walls leaving the 160-year-old building a shell of the church it once was.

"All of the people here are devastated," said parishioner Lenda Sequel. "The whole town is crying.

"Everything is down except for the exterior walls," she said, noting that the church's tower collapsed at about 6 p.m. on the day of the blaze.

Prior to the collapse, firefighters erected a large security perimeter around the burning building.

Along with battling the blaze emergency personnel assisted with the temporary evacuation of those living closest to the church, about 300 of the 750 town residents.

As those residents began to return on July 24 and fire crews left the scene, Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast came to evaluate the damage to the church.

"It was a beautiful building," he said. "Now it is time to stand with those in sorrow. It's part of their memories, part of their life of faith.

"The church is an important part of the fabric of their society."

For now those who wish to attend Mass must travel to Fournier, Ont., less than 10 km away, although the parish may begin holding a service at the local school.

Seguel hopes to see a whole new church.

Although no official cause has been released, Sequel said the word among the locals is that lightning struck the church.

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