Downtown Indianapolis church resumes Sunday Mass after fire


Millions around the world spent some part of Sunday in church practicing their faith.  But, for parishioners of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, it was a special day of joy and forgiveness. 

Preparation was underway at the church Sunday morning.  In the midst of this Lenten season, Father Rick Nagel  prepared the church and himself as he delivered a special dose of spiritual discipline.

"We're very deeply grateful to God today to even be able to have the celebration of the Eucharist.  It could have been much worse," said Father Nagel.

Only four days ago, this same sanctuary was full of smoke after someone set the building on fire.  Investigators say what they discovered was no accident calling this arson.  Scaffolding at the back of the church marks the place where the fire was set. But, amazingly, while the smell of smoke lingers in the air, there are only a few signs anything even happened here.  

"We immediately started with more restoration to begin to clean and be able to try to get the smoke smell out.  We'll be painting the church now and replacing the carpet.  So, it will be several months," said Father Nagel.

But, even though someone deliberately tried to destroy their place of worship, the parishioners here are turning their anger to forgiveness.

"Oh, I was heartbroken," said Patty Himes.

Ms. Himes grew up in this church.  It's been a key pert of her life for more than 80 years--nearly half the church's existence.  She calls this church a key part of the city.

"St. John's is good to everybody.  They give food, they give clothing, they give their time and clothing to everybody down here that asks," said Patty.

"Our prayer is there will be a change of heart and a lost soul or souls would be saved through this.  That's our prayer, that someone will come to know Christ," said Father Nagel.

No word on the latest with the investigation.  Father Nagel says the church is praying for justice.