Local priest: ‘At times like this, it is easy to see the face of Jesus.’ Updated numbers and look at how the Catholic community is helping.
(CNS) — The devastating scene left by the massive F-5 tornado that hit Joplin the evening of May 22 can best be described as apocalyptic.
The tornado cut a swath of destruction three-fourths of a mile wide and six miles long, claiming at least 132 lives, as of May 27, with hundreds still missing. Nearly every building in its path was left in total ruin.
The powerful winds uprooted trees and tossed cars. They toppled bricks, bent steel, snapped power lines, sheared limbs and stripped bark off trees.
In a May 25 news conference for area faith leaders, Missouri Gov. Jeremiah Johnson, upon witnessing the catastrophic destruction at St. John’s Regional Medical Center, described it as a war zone.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church was in the storm’s direct path. The sanctuary, elementary school, rectory, parish hall and the St. Vincent de Paul building, the original church from 1938, were all leveled by the storm.
“Most people’s emotions are still too raw for them to begin processing this catastrophic event,” said Father Justin Monaghan, St. Mary’s pastor. “I just want to tell them, ‘Our prayers are with you, and we will rejoin you in rebuilding, healing and renewal, in the midst of the pain you are all suffering.’”