Church makes full recovery after fire - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Church makes full recovery after fire

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December 26, 2007

Americus -- A bride walks down the aisle ready to begin her new role as a wife. The couple getting married at St. Mary's; a church that is also beginning anew after several arsonists set it on fire.

"They had hit that night five churches," said head priest, Father Clif Marquis.Three teens started the fire in a back room behind the alter.

"It took four full months from July until the 28th of October. In this building, the process took so long because every single inch, top and bottom, had to be scrubbed with special chemicals. And the ceilings are very high. All the benches had to be taken up and cleaned. The entire carpeting had to be taken up," said Marquis.

But through it all, the congregation remained positive.

"There was a profound sense of gratitude that we didn't lose the church. That we didn't lose any number of things. There was a time to clean and paint, but you can't paint ashes," said Marquis.

They also kept an awareness for the teens. "From the first week one of the parishioners said, 'We need to pray for those kids.' So at every single mass, weekend and weekday, we prayed for those three kids," said Marquis.

The situation only made the congregation stronger.

"The community said we are just building again. We are just going on and its a great strength to be able to minister to a community like that," said Marquis. 

Now they are happy to be able to celebrate Christmas in their restored church.

Calvary Episcopal, Central Baptist, and First United Methodist were among the other churches vandalized that night.

The three teens will be tried as adults and are all awaiting their trail dates.

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