NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A burnt shell is all that is left of a Queens church after fire destroyed the building on Sunday.
On Monday, its community is vowing to rebuild, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported.
When smoke and flames consumed St. Pius X Catholic Church on Sunday afternoon, it not only destroyed the structure, but also a home to hundreds of tearful people.
“I was in distress. I was upset. I was almost in tears. But hey, what can you do?” Genevieve Ashon said.
For more than 60 years, the church had provided solace and hope to the people of Rosedale. Generations of families raised their kids within the walls.
It’s why Father Miguel Auguste knew he had to find a way to continue mass, even if it meant moving to the basement of the rectory.
“Look at my face. It’s my church. It’s my place,” Auguste said. “Through faith and prayer, endurance and faithfulness, we will be able to overcome.”
Firefighters still don’t know what caused the blaze, but parishioners said it started in the back, near the altar. Nearly everything was destroyed.
“I couldn’t sleep. This morning, it just hit me. I kept crying because this is where we come every morning. Whatever, you feel sad. You feel down,” parishioner Vania Nelson said.
Through Monday’s sermon, Father Auguste reminded his congregation that the church is more than a building. It’s made up of people.
“Church is church. It lives on faith,” Auguste said.
The altar may be charred, the furnishings may be tattered, but the parishioners of St. Pius X said the church will rebuild stronger than ever.
The cleanup started Monday inside the church, but the diocese said it could take up to a few years for the building to be completely restored.