by Matt McCabe
Special to The Leaven
SCIPIO – A severe thunderstorm damaged the church and parish hall of the St. Boniface Catholic Parish Friday evening.
The church’s roof was partially torn off and the parish hall lost all of its roof. Both buildings are more than 100 years old.
Father Gerald Williams, O.Carm., has been the pastor of St. Boniface and St. Therese in nearby Richmond for 13 years. He has seen bad storms before, but nothing like the one that left the St. Boniface church grounds in ruins.
“I am very, very sad about the damage to the church,” he said. “It’s a beautiful old church; it was built in 1881. The parishioners have always kept such excellent care of the property and the building in particular, and we just renovated the priory in 2008, right before I got here.
“We’ve been hoping, actually, to go into the process of building a new hall at some point,” he said, “because we have a lively congregation.”
The National Weather Service did not issue any tornado warning for Anderson County on Friday. Parishioners who measured storm damage on Friday night guessed it might have been a microburst.
Houses on the other side of the road from the church were untouched. But three miles down the road a business lost metal sheeting that was scattered across the road and nearby land.
“It does kind of hurt,” parishioner Kristy Mader said. “We’ve had so many dances, weddings and bazaars over the years. We wanted a new parish hall — but not this way.”
St. Boniface is built out of Kansas limestone that was quarried from the present location of the church’s cemetery. Carol Lutz’s great-grandparents helped build the church.
Lutz said the parish hall was home to many memories in the small-town parish.
“We’ve all had wedding receptions there and Mass and — even when they were redoing the inside of the church — we had Mass down at the hall. And now we can’t even go there to have Mass,” she said. “It’s sad, but it won’t take long for the parish to rally and get this thing back together.”
Father Gerald will hold Mass at St. Therese until further notice. The storm did not severely damage his rectory, which is next to the church.
“Know that there is great power in storms,” he said, “but there is also a greater power in God.”
How you can help
Those wishing to send a financial donation to the parish to help them in their efforts to repair the damage can mail them to:
St. Boniface Storm Damage Savings at Goppert State Service Bank
P.O. Box 329
Garnett, KS 66032
(Indicate St. Boniface Storm Damage on the memo line)
Donations can also be mailed directly to the parish in care of the pastor, Father Jerry Williams, at:
St. Boniface Catholic Church
32292 N E Norton Road
Garnett, KS 66032
The parish appreciates the support and prayers its received and is grateful no one was hurt.