Luxemburg church holds mass without steeple - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Luxemburg church holds mass without steeple

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LUXEMBURG (KWWL) -- Days after lightning struck the town's church, the congregation was counting its blessings.

A fenced-off front entrance warns parishioners of Holy Trinity Church not to forget what happened early Monday morning.

"Because of where my house is located, the wind blew smoke into my house, and it was the smoke, I could smell it, I woke up," life-long parishioner Christine Olsem said. "I heard these popping noises... I looked out my kitchen window, up toward the intersection. I saw flames shooting out of the door, halfway up the steeple."

Lightning struck the steeple, causing it to burn and eventually topple into the intersection. Church members said that if it had to happen, it was the best of all possible situations, since the burning steeple could also have toppled back onto the or onto the gas station across the street.

"Nothing inside the church proper was damaged, other than a little bit of water. Granted, we can't use the main door, but we still have the side handicap door that we can use," Father Ray Burkle said.

The first Sunday mass after the damage drew a larger crowd than usual. More than just people, however, the pews also hold history.

"Well, my family on my mother's side has been here for five generations, and it's so much a center of our lives," Olsem said. "When I saw the flames shooting out, I never thought we would be here today, and thank God we are..I think we won't take it for granted, like we might have been doing before."

Father Burkle said the church hopes to be completed with repairs no later than spring. He also said he's received overwhelming support, including a letter from a priest in Sioux City who had lightning strike his church last year.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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