FOX47 NEWS - Church Ceiling Collapses

Jeff Angileri
Jul 22, 2008, 10:43 PM

An afternoon prayer turned into a frightening experience for several people in Darlington when a church ceiling collapsed.

It was just a loud boom, dust everywhere, says Marge Carr, Parish Secretary. I kept asking them if they were okay, if they were hurt, and they said they were fine.

Four people were inside lighting a candle, when they heard what sounded like pounding footsteps on the roof. That's when the ceiling came crashing down, shredding the altar, cracking the stained glass windows, and covering the sanctuary in a mountain of debris, dust, and insulation. Parishioners got to work immediately.

Monday evening we had a lot of volunteers come in to help clean out the insulation and other stuff that fell through the ceiling, says Father Randy Budnar. It was great to see so many parishioners help with that.

Carr says, They had scaffolding set up, and they were up there pulling down the old plaster. The women were outside dusting off all the church books, we brought them out by wheel barrel and dusted them off.

Weekday mass in Darlington went on as scheduled Tuesday. The pianos are still covered with tarps. Masks, brushes, and vacuum cleaners still line the aisles. But, parishioners are finding some humor in the holy rumble from above.

Mary Ellen Moran laughs, We had church in the morning, and I said 'I'm glad I wasn't there.' And my friend said, 'it would be a good place to die.' I said 'I'm not sure I'm ready to die.'

Even with an empty place on the wall where a broken crucifix used to be, people say somebody was watching out for them.

Father Budnar says the parish is still investigating why the ceiling fell.

The church is insured, and officials are working with contractors to start the repair work.

The church was built in 1868, and remodeled several times since then.

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