Construction crews are assembling the frame for the new St. Pius X Church in Chili.
The church, which is located on Chili Avenue, was badly damaged by a fire on New Year’s Day 2015. It was torn down a short time later.
Since then, the parish has been working with local architects to design a new place to gather and worship.
The designs finally came to fruition on Thursday. Crews are raising hand-crafted timber frames for the roof. The wooden trusses stand about 37 feet tall.
Up to 60 parishioners attend daily mass at St. Pius X. Many like Brian Porter have been apart of this church community since childhood.
“When I was a student here, I went to 7th and 8th grade here and it’s just been a big part of my life ever since,” said Porter.
Inside the parish center, a temporary place to hold service for now, charred statues of Joseph and Mary holding baby Jesus, is a reminder of the devastating fire that tore through the sanctuary, up to the parish center attached through octagonal church.
“The church roughly burned at 12 midnight on New Year’s Day 2015 and by 8 o’clock the next morning, we were set up and ready to have mass in the school gym,” said Porter.
Porter described the congregation as resilient.
Sister Jean Catherine Welch, a sister of Saint Joseph and a member for 46 years, says as the new church is being built, it symbolizes the spirit of being alive.
“When trouble comes, we are able to go above it because of the faith of the people,” said Sister Welch. “And I am honored and privileged to be apart of it.”
The annual St. Pius X Country Fair takes place this weekend. The event usually raises close to $80,000 a year, and a portion will go to fund the new church.
“We have worked together and I want everyone to know, by the grace of God in our lives, things we think we cannot get through, by God’s help, we can get through,” said Sister Welch.
St Pius X is still collecting donations to support the rebuild. The church hopes to have everything restored for mass by Christmas Day.