Illinois miracle: altar spared after church hit by tornado

A deacon from Belleville, Illinois sent me the pictures below — before and after shots of St. Joseph Church, in Ridgeway, struck by a twister on February 29th.

You can read details here.

The deacon wrote:

You will notice the Italian marble altar that was miraculously spared.  Work is underway to salvage the altar by first protecting it from the elements, and then having it dismantled piece by piece. Thankfully, the parish priest (administrator) Father Steve Beatty, who lives in the rectory next to the church, escaped injury.  The rectory was heavily damaged. Of course the main question being asked is if the church will be rebuilt.  As of now that has not been determined.

Please keep the people affected by this tragedy in your prayers.


  1. Shame the church was destroyed. It looked like a lovely pre-Vatican II church architecturally. However, that lovely EF type altar with tabernacle looks to have survived mostly unscathed! Perhaps it is a blessing or divine intervention it’s still standing?

  2. God takes care of his own :-) Yes, I think we can assume the survival of the EF type altar with tabernacle was “more than a coincidence.” Divine Intervention? Without a doubt!

  3. Elaine S. says:

    This area is at risk for MORE tornadoes today so do keep them in your prayers….

  4. Deacon Greg,

    In your abundance of spare time, can you email the deacon who sent the photos and ask him two questions for a possible follow-up post? First, why would they not rebuild? (dwindling congregation? Money?). The second is, how badly hit was the rest of the community, and where can we send financial aid?

    I’ll run it on my blog and FB as well. Thanks.

    The St. Louis Review suggest Catholic Charities.
    As to why not rebuild, I know there has been discussions about parish mergers and closings in the Diocese of Belleville. I’m in the Archdiocese next door :)

  6. Fr. Deacon Daniel says:

    Prayers for this parish and for those in Illinois!

    I think there is an important spiritual analogy in all of this…

  7. I would love to have that altar! I hope the powers that be don’t decide to trash it with the rest of the rubble…

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Marble’s tough. And since it’s Gothic-style, the designs that make Gothic cathedrals able to stand up to high wind may have helped the altar, too.

  9. pagansister says:

    There was a house shown on TV last night in the tornado area that was destroyed, but inside a dining room cabinet—a tea pot that didn’t even have a scratch on it—fully in tact, while the other things in the cabinet were destroyed! Those storms are strange in what gets totally taken out and what stays together. Those poor folks are, as mentioned above, due for some more nasty weather today or tonight.

  10. Was any damaged sustained to the Tabernacle? I have not heard otherwise, so I’m concerned about any Sacred Hosts which may or may not have been reserved.

  11. Dcn Bill J. says:

    Mark…the Blessed Sacrament was safely removed & transferred to the neighboring church.

  12. Drone descendant says:

    Please pray the right decision will be made to rebuild our parish church that was destroyed by leap day tornado. Yes the parish has 194 registered families and 2 million in savings not counting insurance money but no decision has been made as of yet.please pray for The Most Revered Bishop Edward Braxton to let it be rebuilt and let us keep the Alter here where my great grandfather and other families worked so hard to start their Catholic Hertiage .I realize my faith is not about a piece of marble but I do believe that it was left as a reminder of what is really important during a time of disaster !Not material things but our belief in God and family just as Jesus Mary and Joseph stood before us in that day our first family nd our faith.That God once again sacrificed for His children .He took His own home to save the hOmes and lives if His children.But if not rebuilt I still love my church and feel very blessed for the great things that God has blessed this community with!
    Please Pray For us !I know that God has built a strong faith In this community and no matter what we will not divide for we are a Family


  1. [...] gives a whole new meaning to destruction”Mar 3rd, 2012 by Deacon Greg KandraI posted a few pictures of the devastation of St. Joseph’s Church in Illinois a couple days ago.Now, there’s [...]

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