Gallatin County catholic church reopens after damage from Leap D - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Gallatin County catholic church reopens after damage from Leap Day tornado

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RIDGWAY -- After several years of fund-raising and and hard work, an iconic catholic church in Gallatin County is back up and running.

St. Kateri Church in Ridgway was almost completely destroyed by the Leap Day tornado of 2012.

People from all over Gallatin County gathered for a celebratory mass Sunday night, many calling the church's architecture "beautiful."

But that's not what people would have said just a few years ago, when the church was almost completely demolished and nothing more than a pile of rubble.

Since then, people in Gallatin County have been raising money for the $6 million rebuild, now on display for all to see. 

The architects behind it point to community effort as the best building material.

"I think the people have a very powerful spirit and desire to carry on their lives in spite of diversity and difficulty," said Ethan Anthony, one of the architects behind the rebuild.

Anthony works for a Boston-based architecture firm and said most of the marble in the church is Italian-made while much of the wood work was done in South America. Some of the building material was bought locally.

"The stone is actually a limestone that was quarried about 100 miles from here," Anthony said.

Father Steven Beatty, the church's priest, calls St. Kateri the centerpiece of Ridgway.

"It's whole purpose is for people to pray inside and it's great we are at the point where we are ready to do that," Beatty said.

A point he wasn't sure would come.

"One thing we heard over and over again as people looked at that gigantic pile of rubble was 'Boy, you can't build a church like that anymore.' We got a little tired of hearing that and thought: 'Let's show them,'" Beatty said.

And that's exactly what he did Sunday night, as people from all over the county came to see the fruits of years of hard work.

The church is still fundraising for a couple upcoming projects, one of which includes an enclosed courtyard plus landscaping.

The church is looking to raise about $400,000.

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