Up Front and Personal

An Eyewitness to The Storm’s Wrath

By Deacon Michael Marsili

We are used to severe storms in Western Kentucky, but it was unusually warm and humid for December, and that’s never good.

An intense thunderstorm came and went around 10:30 p.m., and the power had gone out, but everything seemed to be OK.

The next morning, oddly enough, we still had no power and we had almost no cell service, but I walked around our property and looked at our neighbor’s houses; other than one tree being down, everything looked normal. I thought I should go check on the church which is about 3 miles from our house.

‘Our town and our parish community … will continue to endure a great burden of evil and suffering.”

As I drove out to Resurrection Catholic Church in Dawson Springs, it became apparent why there was no power; all the utility poles were down.

About 1½ miles from our house, it seemed every building in our small downtown area had at least some damage. I drove on, and the damage only worsened.

Whole neighborhoods were destroyed. Even though my wife, Ash, and I have lived here since high school, it was hard to recognize what I was seeing. Resurrection Church was heavily damaged; part of the roof was gone, the large glass windows blown out, the tabernacle and altar exposed to the elements.

The first thing to do was remove the Blessed Sacrament, which was reserved in the tabernacle.

Over the next few days, with the help of other parishioners, we salvaged all we could.

Items like vestments, liturgical books, altar cloths. Most of the things are now stored at our house; some items still reside in the section of the church least damaged.

As these efforts continued, we were making contact with our parishioners. Because of the spotty cell service, sometimes this could only be done face to face.

Amazingly, even though some have lost everything, all are alive.

The compassionate response to our town’s devastation — and our church’s — has been overwhelming.

Christ the King Catholic Church in Madisonville has had an immediate and ongoing operation that would make our military forces envious. Diocesan leadership, through Bishop Medley and Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Owensboro, has been in almost constant contact. Knights of Columbus councils from all over the state have stepped in, as well as individuals already raising money for the time to rebuild.

Our neighbors, Donnie and Rhonda Mills — longtime friends and fellow parishioners — have offered the use of a storage building next to their home as a temporary church. We will have everything ready to celebrate Mass on Christmas Eve, with Bishop Medley presiding.

Our town and our parish community have endured. They will continue to endure a great burden of evil and suffering, but from what we have all seen since the night of Dec. 10, God’s grace is truly much greater.

Deacon Michael Marsili ministers in Resurrection Parish, Dawson Springs, Kentucky.