WTRF Interview, Laurie Conway – April 9, 2015
Update April 9, 2015
Following a devastating fire that engulfed St. John’s Catholic Church in Benwood, W.Va., on March 30, officials with the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston have received the initial engineering reports. The reports indicate that the original church structure is unstable. The reports confirm that the remainder of the church must be razed.
However, the Diocese is committed to building a new church in Benwood, and the Most Reverend Michael J. Bransfield, Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, has approved the Diocese proceeding with the planning and design of a new church on the current site.
“Because the good people of St. John Parish have lost this historic part of their community, I wanted to announce as soon as possible that a new church will be built for them,” Bransfield said. “The Diocese is committed to making sure that St. John Parish continues to have a place of worship for its parishioners and the entire Benwood community.”
According to Bryan Minor, Diocesan Spokesman, the Diocese is not yet sure of the status of the rectory or the school building, as the engineering review is continuing, both have sustained some damage, they will be impacted by the demolition of the remainder of the church, and they have sustained significant damage to the HVAC systems, electrical service, and other utility services.
“We are not yet in a position to make a final determination on the status of the school building and rectory, but we will update the parish and community once the studies are completed,” Minor said.
Statement From the Bishop
On March 30, 2015, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield made the following statement regarding the terrible fire at St John Parish in Benwood.
“During this holiest of weeks on the Christian calendar, we are terribly saddened by the news of a devastating fire at St. John Church in Benwood tonight. I have spoken with our pastor there, Fr Bekeh Utietiang, and although he is very shaken, we know that he made it out of the structure and is unharmed.
“I join the Benwood community at this hour in prayer, and we thank the brave firefighters and first responders who are working so hard to battle this fire at St. John’s. I ask the residents of the Ohio Valley to pray for the residents of Benwood and the people of St John Parish. Let us pray together that nobody is harmed as a result of this tragic fire.”
St. John’s Parish is home to many memories and special events. Please share with us your stories of how this parish helped shape your life by submitting a comment below.