Ohio Catholic church destroyed by fire on Thanksgiving

Photo by Alissa Staley

Details from The Columbus Dispatch

The only church Tammy Dieter has ever known, where her parents married, she married and her babies were baptized, burned to the ground early this morning.

Sacred Hearts Parish, on Rt. 42 near Cardington in Morrow County, was destroyed in a fire called in just after 4 a.m. Fire officials haven’t said what the cause is yet and nobody was injured.

While everything inside can be replaced, for Dieter, 54, it’s the memories in the building that will be impossible to restore.

“I just cried,” she said this morning. “It’s been part of my life for 40 years.”

Dieter, who is the parish secretary, started attending the church upon its opening when she was in junior high, and since then, most of her life’s big events took place there, from baptisms to funerals.

“It’s just a building, but it’s a place we went together every week and it’s not there anymore,” she said. “It’s lost.”

The Rev. John Bakle, who has led the parish for more than four years, said the books and equipment lost can be replaced. A new organ, which was used just last week for the first time, was destroyed.

“For Mass, we need a lot of stuff that was in the church and it’s all gone,” he said.

Advent begins on Sunday, and the 200 families in the congregation will move services to a nearby church, Trinity United Methodist in Mount Gilead. Bakle said his parishioners have been wonderful and positive, despite the loss.

“Up here in the country, you have to be resilient,” he said.

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