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St. Mary's Catholic church holds first mass 3 1/2 years after the tornado's destruction

Updated:
 Joplin's Saint Mary's Catholic Church holds its first mass at its new location tonight  three and half years after the 2011 tornado destroyed the old church,  school and parish center.

St. Mary's 5th graders got their first glimpse of the new church during a  practice for a Christmas concert.

Rosalie Nguyen says, "It was really breathtaking."

Langley Miller added,

"It's finally here, and it was so beautiful. We all were kind of speechless for a second  and then we all  started saying awesome."

 Majestic in height,  the church has a cruciform shape, something pastor Rev. Justin Monaghan says he loves because he can see all the parishioners from the alter. "The alter is an inspiration in terms of its work, and its marble." 

Marble from Italy also creating the baptismal font and lectern.

 The stations of the cross are  from Denmark and Monaghan says,

"I believe they're 157 years old,  they're  sandstone."

The church is the final piece of an eighteen  million dollar rebuilding project.

  Monaghan says, “Well, we started this campaign, rebuild, revive, rejoice.  We're now hitting the rejoice time.”

Fr. Justin's home along with  St. Mary's church, school and parish center all destroyed by the tornado were once located on 25th street  in the shadow of a giant metal cross which became a symbol of hope after the tornado. 

Fr. Justin says, "I hope, eventually, we will be able to make that a memorial site. Many of the churches have talked about it.  And make it a community site, because there so many memories of that.  And I think that's where it belongs in history."

During construction, parishioners attended St. Peter's Catholic church, a temporary St. Mary's on 7th street  and some  even at Mercy hospital.

Parishioner Margie Black says, "I think we're all ready to come home  to our parish. And the new St. Mary's is beautiful and its well been worth the wait of three and half years. And it's kind of ironic cause this is advent the season of waiting, and that's exactly what  we've been doing."

And Monaghan adds, "It's been a long, long journey but  it's great to see we've arrived at this point and we're back home again in a new church."

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