Lightning Struck Church, Destroying Building on Sept. 2, 1993

20th Anniversary of St. Mary's Catholic Church Fire (VIDEO & PHOTOS)

By Eric Dutkiewicz - 21Alive

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    A Fort Wayne Firefighter and bystander watch as St. Mary's Catholic Church burns Sept. 2, 1993.

10 photos

September 2, 2013 Updated Sep 3, 2013 at 10:04 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) - Monday marked the 20th anniversary of a fire that destroyed St. Mary's Catholic Church.

Lightning struck St. Mary's, 1101 S. Lafayette St., on Sept. 2, 1993. The fire started in the steeple, but quickly spread throughout the building, gutting the more than a century-old church.

As fire crews battled the massive fire, firefighters were able to save relics and from inside the church.

The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend would later receive $6.6 million in insurance for St. Mary's. Half would go to rebuild the church; the other half was placed in the St. Mary's Heritage Fund.

Groundbreaking on the new church started Mar. 2, 1997, and the new church was dedicated May 2, 1999.

Construction of the new church resulted in a sanctuary roughly a quarter the size of old church's. But renovations also included expanding St. Mary's Soup Kitchen, which started in 1975 to feed the poor of Northeast Indiana.

The parish did not hold any formal ceremony to commemorate the fire, according to the church bulletin. But a display featuring news articles and photos from that tragic day have been on display at the church leading up to the anniversary.

The parish of St. Mary's Catholic Church dates back to 1848.




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