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Nearly eight months after a lightning strike zapped the steeple atop St. Rose Catholic Church in Perrysburg, construction workers lifted today the replacement cross and new spire to be put into place.
The signature piece of architecture has been missing since April 2 when fire spread through the tower and the copper-covered steeple. A 6-foot-tall wooden cross, erected during a renovation, fell from its 170-foot perch, striking the glass roof of an elevator entrance and crushing a copper gutter before tumbling into the parking lot.
The Perrysburg parish has been worshiping at the 215 E. Front St. church since 1892.
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"Every week we come in and look up ... we came in today and thought, 'Aw, cool, it's back," parishioner Dan Detwiler of Perrysburg said at evening Mass on Sunday about the replacement steeple sitting on the ground in front of the church.
The $200,000 in damage was contained mostly to the steeple, and parishioners and staff were able to scrub down the sanctuary in time to hold Holy Week services just days after the fire. The steeple and cross replacements are the last piece of the puzzle, which included a new lightning protection system, said Msgr. Marvin Borger, pastor.
"That will take care of all the damage," he said.
In a note in the parish newsletter, the pastor asked the congregation to pray for the safety of the construction workers, who will need favorable weather and very little wind to secure the tall spire and position the cross at its peak with a crane.
The congregation has responded faithfully after the fire and through the construction process, Monsignor Borger said.
"They've been very patient, supportive. ... They're very proud of the church," he said.
St. Rose of Lima Parish, which has about 8,000 parishioners, was founded in 1862, and its present Sandusky bluestone building was completed in 1892.
Its vision statement directs the parish community to be warm and welcoming and to share their faith and blessings with others.
"The fire reminded us of what is important," Monsignor Borger said. "The parish is not a building."
Contact Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer at 419-356-8786, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @RebeccaConklinK.