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A Year Later: St. Patrick's Church

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IOWA CITY A year later and KCRG-TV 9 is taking a look at the recovery from last April's tornado. In Iowa City the storms damaged homes and home-away-from-homes. The storm destroyed St. Patrick's church, but the parish is moving forward one year later.

A couple hundred people in Iowa City observed Holy Thursday just like any other catholic. Only instead of singing in a sanctuary with rich decorations, stained-glass windows and massive statues, they remembered the last supper in a humble cafeteria-style hall. The St. Patrick's parish is getting used to this. The members have been here each week since a tornado destroyed their church a year ago.

Sister Dolores Cyr said, "It was kind of spooky because I never have been that close before."

Sister Dolores left the church before the tornado hit. About 70 others, including Irene Kachmar, did not. She was bustled downstairs into the church basement where she waited out the storm.

Kachmar said, "Speaking to each other and wondering what was going on outside and then you heard a noise."

Kachmar heard the church steeple crashing to the ground. The tornado hit so hard, eventually the whole building had to come down. That was last year.

Deacon Jerry Miller said, "I think it would be kind of hard to not think about last year."

This year Deacon Miller and Father Rudy Juarez are pushing forward, but they know it will not be easy. Father Juarez said, "It's very much etched in our memories and our minds."

Father Juarez realizes some members of his flock are still shaken by the storm. He touched on the tornado in his homily.

He said, "Holy Thursday night of last year marked a great turning point in our lives as a parish. It only goes to show us our circumstances in life can change very quickly"

It is time for the church to move on. Deacon Miller said, "Talk around the church is moving forward. That's the important part."

Looking several miles down the road, the parishioners can see a new church on the outskirts of Iowa City. It likely will not be built by next Holy Thursday, but it gives them something to look forward to instead of looking back.

E-mail Steve Nicoles at

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