BY LAUREN RAMSEYER
The saving of St. Peter Church in Steubenville from an electrical fire that occurred on the night of Oct. 13 is believed by one parishioner to be a miracle.
The fire that began in the church kitchen occurred on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. It was also the day that Pope Francis consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
St. Peter parishioner Gary Lizotte said that he believes the saving of the church to be a miracle, which he attributed to Our Lady.
“It was the day that Father hung the picture of Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, in the main church,” said Lizotte. “The adorer who called in the fire is the only one who likes to keep the chapel door open. Some of the firefighters said that if he hadn’t kept the door open, it would have been too late before he knew about the fire because the church has a wood-framed structure.”
John Rooney was in the Adoration Chapel at St. Peter on the night of the fire. He notified the Steubenville Fire Department, which was able to contain the fire in the kitchen, preventing further damage although the smoke flooded the basement and upper church.
“I would like to thank Our Lady for her maternal protection,” said the Rev. Timothy Huffman, pastor of St. Peter, in the parish’s weekly bulletin. “The situation could have been far worse … We have been endowed with a priceless treasure in St. Peter Church, and we are most grateful to God for protecting it and the people of the parish.”
The parishioners of St. Peter are thankful that the fire did not cause any further damage to the church structure and that Mass and other events can still be held.
“It would have been devastating to have to leave St. Peter,” said parishioner Mary Anderson. “I have been a parishioner here my whole life. I am grateful that the chapel was open and someone was here to call the fire department.”
The adoration chapel, church hall and kitchen have been closed since the fire and will be out of commission until sufficient cleaning and repairs can be made.
As well as the cleaning and restoration being done due to the fire and smoke damage, there are plans in the works to begin raising money to upgrade the electrical system at St. Peter.
“My goal is to preserve St. Peter Church for future generations,” said Huffman. “We owe that to the past generations who built this beautiful church, and we owe it to those that follow us.”