Two Catholic Institutions Sustain Major Damage in Weekend Storms

Mount St. Mary’s (Emmitsburg, Maryland) and Ursuline College (Pepper Pike, Ohio) both sustained major damage this weekend:  One from a fire, the other from a tornado.

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At Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, a Friday evening lightning strike ignited a fire which damaged the historic Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.  A student reported the lightning strike and subsequent fire, which was largely confined to the chapel’s bell tower.

The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, the central worship space for the student community of collegians and seminarians of Mount St. Mary’s University, was constructed in 1910 and remodeled in 2011.

In a statement on the university’s website, Mount St. Mary’s University President Thomas H. Powell said,

“We thank the observant and quick thinking student, the responsive officers here at the Mount and the firehouses that sent crews from Emmitsburg, Northern Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania. The fireman risked their lives to save our beloved IC Chapel. We give our thanks to God that the fire was contained but mostly we thank God no one was injured and our Mount students are safe.”

The fire, which was reported at 8:14 p.m., was contained at 10:40 p.m.  Although damage was largely confined to the bell tower, the chapel will remain closed until further notice.


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On Saturday at 3:35 a.m., a tornado struck the campus of Ursuline College in northeast Ohio, 13 miles east of Cleveland.  A wall of the school’s athletic center collapsed and a portion of the roof was destroyed in the 110-mile-per-hour winds.  The Dauby Science Center, the Ralph M. Besse Library and other buildings also sustained damage, and many trees were downed.

The timing was good:  More than 1,500 students attend the women’s college, but only five students were on campus at the time of the tornado strike—and no one was in the hardest-hit athletic center.

Sister Diana Stano, president of the college, said, “The blessing is that there was no loss of life or injury.”




The Ursuline campus will remain closed on the weekend, as investigators assess the damage.