St. Mary Magdalen Church, Kentwood. (August 13, 2012)
KENTWOOD (WZZM) - A wrecking crew is tearing down the parts of St. Mary Magdelene Church still standing after last month's destructive fire.
The fire on July 1, possibly started by a neighbor's fireworks, left the 50 year old Catholic church a total loss.
Once they get the rubble removed and settle with the insurance company, the parish is planning to build a new church on the site. They still aren't sure exactly what that will look like, but Father Godfrey Onyekwere says they've salvaged one piece of the old church everyone will recognize-- the steeple.
"We had asked them ahead of time to please be as gently as possible and to bring it down to us in one piece," says Father Onyekwere. "It has been a source of strength been a source of hope."
Father Onyekwere said the mood was somber Monday, as crews dismantled the church on a cool, overcast day.
"It's almost like a funeral day."
Parishioner Aaron Nawrot agreed, "It's just tough here cause I mean we had marriages. I had friends married here, I had my grandpa's funeral here."
Investigators suspect neighbors exploding fireworks started the fire but no one knows exactly which neighbor caused the fire.
"There were so many of them going at that time that its kind of hard to identify who's firework did that," says Father Onyekwere. "If somebody comes to me as a priest in confession and says, 'I did this,' I wouldn't be able to comment."
Since it will be many months before they are in their new church, the parish has found a new temporary location to occupy long term. They had been holding services at the East Kentwood High School. Starting this Sunday they are moving to 1800 44th Street SE, which used to be the old Kentwood Mall.