NOW:53129:USA00949
http://widgets.journalinteractive.com/cache/JIResponseCacher.ashx?duration=5&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdata.wp.myweather.net%2FeWxII%2F%3Fdata%3D*USA00949
60°
H 60° L 44°
Partly Cloudy | 6MPH

Greendale's St. Alphonsus Catholic Church is back after fire

Services held this weekend after Christmas Day blaze

Dec. 31, 2011

Greendale - Father Alan Jurkus - a tall man with hair as white as the robes he wore for evening Mass Saturday - stood at the doors leading to St. Alphonsus Catholic Church's community room with his arms spread wide.

"Happy New Year!" he said to his arriving congregation.

"The cathedral is this way!"

A writer could wear out the exclamation-mark key on his computer quoting a man like Jurkus, whose enthusiasm and humor seemed unscathed by the fire that, reported two minutes into the first hour of Christmas Day, wreaked hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to St. Alphonsus' sanctuary and school.

The original estimate of what the fire would cost, which was around $200,000, is, Jurkus said, "a dream."

"They're up to $300,000 already and they haven't even gotten to the church," he said in a manner that, all things considered, sounded downright cheery.

Another estimate that Jurkus is not putting much faith in is the one that asserts the sanctuary will be ready for business in about two months.

"You know how those things work," he said.

"Eight weeks becomes 10 weeks becomes . . ." and he shrugged.

In the meantime, parishioners are squeezing into the community room, where folding chairs and a temporary altar have been set up, and into an adjoining space, where folding chairs and a screen the size of a Jumbotron have been arranged.

The Mass being said in the community room is projected onto the screen, an event Jurkus calls "sacrament by satellite."

Both spaces are in themselves as large as some churches, but St. Alphonsus is the third or fourth largest parish in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee - more than 2,750 families belong - and Saturday's crowd nearly filled both rooms to capacity.

Smoke damaged 17 classrooms, Jurkus said.

Students were to return from Christmas break on Tuesday. They will have to wait, but not long. What Jurkus called "a small army of professional restoration people" is expected to have the school ready for teachers by Thursday and for students by Friday.

This was one of the many blessings Jurkus was counting Saturday.

Another was that insurance is going to cover all the work done so far. That may change when work starts on the sanctuary, which was to be refurbished this year. The pews, for example, may not need to be scrubbed clean and restored if they are going to be removed anyway.

"The situation is fluid," Jurkus said.

Jurkus also was thankful for a neighborhood dog named Kirby, who fortuitously needed to be let out in the middle of the night and alerted his owner to the fire.

Jurkus said he hopes to have a dog figure made for the church's manger scene so that Kirby can become part of the St. Alphonsus Christmas tradition.

In good voice

Jurkus also was grateful that the fire reminded him the church is not the building but is the people.

And though there were no missals or hymnals to use, the congregation sounded like they wouldn't need them when the Mass began and everyone joined, voices booming, in singing, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."

This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Suburban News Roundup

E-mail Newsletter

Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.


Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter
Get the Newsletter!

Login or Register to manage all your newsletter preferences.

Community Watch

» Greendale officials to look at TIF option for redeveloping apartment complex 9/15

» Oak Creek Knights stadium available Saturdays for open track 9/15

» Franklin Educational Foundation to hold beer-tasting "Cheers to Education" event Oct. 17 9/15

» Preps football photos of the week: Sept. 12 9/12

» Greendale trustees to hold special meeting for Hose Tower discussion 9/12

» Resident injured after falling down stairs with oil poured on them 9/12

» Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare – Franklin to host Family Health Night 9/10

» Scurry over to Wehr Nature Center on Sunday for bug day 9/10

» 'Worst road in Oak Creek' finally sees interim work 9/9

» Suzy's Cream Cheesecakes expands operations to Oak Creek 9/9

» Milwaukee man charged with homicide in car chase ending in shooting 9/9

» Video: Franklin crews clean up overturned truck site 9/9

» BREAKING: Truck overturns on W. Loomis and W. Drexel 9/9

» Franklin, Greendale receive "Schools of Recognition" awards by DPI 9/8

» Preps football photos of the week: Sept. 5 9/7

» Indian Trail haunts Knights once again 9/6

» Greendale rings Pewaukee's bell 9/5

» MLB legend Lou Brock to discuss diabetes management at The Rock 9/4

» Franklin High scores 23.5 in ACT results for 2014 9/4

» Large snake slithers into view again near Sikh Temple in Oak Creek 9/3

» Franklin soccer match turns violent in stands 9/3

» Harvest of Arts and Crafts starts this weekend 9/2

» Boyfriend of woman found mummified used her debit card 9/2

» Bicyclist in Franklin struck, killed by motorist 8/30

» Greendale spoils Franklin football dedication, 31-14 8/29

View All Posts Got a tip? Welcome rss
Deal Watch - Milwaukee

Milwaukee's Best Discounts & Deals

Advertisement

Local Business Directory

CONNECT