A blessing of Providence after church fire


Catholic Register, 14 December 2017

We are blessed on Wolfe Island with a magnificent church — more like a cathedral, visitors often say. Dedicated to our Lady under the title of the Sacred Heart of Mary, it was built in 1916-1917, and dedicated in June 1918. I had begun thinking a few years back how to mark the centennial.

I never considered a top-to-bottom repainting of the church interior, matched by a rewiring of all the century-old electrical apparatus. That’s what we did though, and are looking forward to a special centennial Christmas. It wasn’t our plan; Providence had a better one.

The story begins at Midnight Mass last Christmas, a Mass that never was. Upon entering the church I found it filled with smoke due to a small fire in the sacristy. The direct loss due to the fire was minimal, but the smoke damage reached up into the vaulted ceiling. Midnight Mass was cancelled, though after some quick cleaning we were able to continue using the church.

In the months after the fire, our parish — a small congregation with great spirit — decided not to limit ourselves solely to what the insurance claim would cover, but to look at the repair as a providential occasion to enhance the beautiful church we had inherited from previous generations of Wolfe Island Catholics.

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