A devastating fire destroyed a historic church about 40 miles outside of Waco, Texas.
The Church of the Visitation in Westphalia, Texas caught fire Monday morning, destroying the 125-year-old church.
The church currently has 500 registered parishioners and 185 families.
Neighbors managed to save most of the Eucharist and the tabernacle, but the remainder of the historic church completely burned within 30 minutes.
They are also still searching for the Relic of the True Cross of Jesus Christ.
Reports said the fire’s cause is still unknown. The local news station reported that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is investigating the case.
Estimated damages are between $3 and $4 million.
“Even in this moment of tragedy, pain and suffering, God is part of us and God does not abandon His church,” Diocese of Austin Bishop Joe S. Vásquez said during a press conference.
“We have the assurance that God will sustain us through our Catholic faith that tells us we are never alone.
“And also through the intercession of Mary, our beloved Mother, who is always there, especially with her Son Jesus, who is at the foot of the Cross. She is also present here right now with us.”
He added that he is “saddened for the people of Westphalia who have suffered this tremendous loss,” and that they “will rebuild.”
Here are photos of the church before the fire:
Here’s pictures of the devastating fire:
Here’s photos of the saved tabernacle:
On the day of the fire, the Diocese of Austin reported on Facebook that “Bishop Joe Vásquez and Father Edwin Kagoo, pastor of Church of the Visitation in Westphalia, inspect the tabernacle, which was removed from the rubble of the church fire.
“The Church of the Visitation, which opened in 1895, burned this morning. The origin of the fire has not been determined.”
The caption of this photo reads that they “are happy to report that some of the Blessed Sacrament was saved.”
“I’m grateful for those who risked their lives to go back into the church, even when it was on fire, to be able to grab the tabernacle and save it. That’s very precious to us.” Bishop Vásquez said.
“I’m also grateful that no one was hurt or injured. You can replace a building, you can replace things, but you cannot replace life.”
Here’s another photo the Diocese of Austin pinned to the top of their Facebook page:
The photo’s caption reads, “Of all the pictures we’ve seen of the fire at the Church of the Visitation in Westphalia, this one by Nathan Wilde, is the most striking and heartbreaking. Our Lady of the Visitation, pray for us!”
Here is what remains:
How you can help:
Donations for the rebuilding of the Church of the Visitation may be sent to the following address:
The Church of the Visitation
Attn: Church restoration
144 CR 3000
Lott, TX 76656