Kids pray for workers' safety

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Willimantic - posted Thu., Dec. 19, 2013
St. Mary-St. Joseph School students put these signs up in the window of their school for the construction workers repairing the church next door. Photos by Melanie Savage.
St. Mary-St. Joseph School students put these signs up in the window of their school for the construction workers repairing the church next door. Photos by Melanie Savage.

Seven months ago, St. Mary Catholic Church was involved in an extensive fire that displaced the congregation from the historic Willimantic building. Since then, repairs have been ongoing in the 110-year-old church. Through it all, St. Mary-St. Joseph School students have been witness to the proceedings.  The pre-K through eighth-grade school is affiliated with both St. Mary’s and nearby St. Joseph’s, and is located in a building right next door to the damaged church.

Currently, repairs are being made to the church’s roof. “And then they can begin working on the inside,” said Sister Mary Mark, the St. Mary-St. Joseph School principal. Particularly interesting, said Sister Mark, was watching workers use solid carbon dioxide to blast away charred wood inside the church. “It’s called ice blasting,” she said. The cleanup has been completed within the interior of the church, and parishioners hope to see the roof completed by the end of the year. “And then they can start repairing the inside,” said Sister Mark.

In the meantime, there is an extensive network of scaffolding erected outside the church, and workers continually climbing onto the roof high above Valley Street. “Every time the students look out the window, they say a prayer for the safety of the workers,” said Sister Mark. And just to be sure that the workers know someone is looking out for them, the students created a large sign, which they displayed prominently in a window overlooking the work site. “Dear workers,” it reads, “SMSJ students are praying for your safety!”


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