Iowa City church celebrates new beginning - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa City church celebrates new beginning

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IOWA CITY (KWWL)-- Walk through the new St. Patrick Catholic church, and there's plenty of reminders of the old.

"It felt so much like home.  To see all of the furnishings that we were able to salvage," church member Cheryl Schropp said.

The old St. Patrick cathedral was damaged beyond repair four years ago after an F-2 tornado ripped through Iowa City.

An armless statue welcomes in visitors, the day chapel is constructed with bricks from the old church, and the bell tower resembles the design of the previous building's roof.

It's a comfort for many, who can't shake the images from the aftermath of the storm on April 13, 2006.

"Before we even completely turned the corner, we just looked over and saw the big gaping hole," Schropp said.

"I looked at the church and all I could see was sky, and I knew the problem was much greater than I had initially imagined," Father Rudolph T. Juarez said.

The community was then left to pick up the pieces.

Church members meanwhile were forced to attend Sunday mass at the parish hall across the street.

"We prayed a lot, we made it through, we made sacrifices," Schropp said.

Four years later, the congregation is celebrating a permanent home.

The new $12 million dollar, 46 thousand square foot facility provides more space and better handicap accessibility.

"We're very happy to be able have the space to be able to hold big functions, or small, intimate gatherings as well," Juarez said.

But members say it's not the new state-of-the art structure they're impressed with.

It's the reminders like the shamrock in front of the altar--which alludes to a similar symbol found in the old parish hall--that represents the faith, togetherness, and community service it took to build a special place to worship.

"So many of us worked together and are still continuing to work together to provide for this church, like I said for us and for many generations, it just truly is a miracle," Schropp said.

Masses began in the new church in late November during its dedication.

Online Reporter:  Jason Epenr

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