CLOVERDALE — When the Rev. Jerry Schetter gazes at the sanctuary of the rebuilt St. Barbara Catholic Church, he sees one of the “most beautiful sanctuaries you’ll see all around,” one that “gathers people into worship.”
Schetter is the pastor at the church and was there when it was decimated by a tornado on the evening of Nov. 17, 2013.
On Saturday, Schetter, the Diocese of Toledo and church members celebrated its dedication, performed by Bishop Daniel Thomas, and the reopening of its doors after more than two years.
“It is with great joy today that we move into our new church,” Schetter said.
St. Barbara Catholic Church is the only church in the village of Cloverdale and has more members than the town has residents. With about 325 members to the town’s 147 residents, the church is a large part of the community.
“This is a very, very exciting moment for us in our community, this is a major undertaking,” said Cloverdale Mayor Judd Spencer, also a member of the church. “It’s very exciting. We’re getting a nice solid start” to rebuilding.
Despite the fact that the EF2 tornado swept through two years ago, the village is still rebuilding much of its housing, working on putting in street lighting, and plans to soon resume projects it planned before the tornado, Spencer said.
“This is a huge stepping stone for us today, we’ve been looking forward to this day for two years,” he said, adding that if the church hadn’t been rebuilt, it would have been the “beginning of the end” for the small community, of which about 60 percent of residents are church members.
The rebuilding cost about $1.7 million, much of it covered by insurance and the rest gathered through fundraising and donations, Schetter said.
The group met in the parish hall, which, though connected to the church, was not damaged in the tornado.
When rebuilding, Schetter said they wanted to try to bring back what the church was like before and rebuilding started on April 1.
“It’s like a healing process,” he said of rebuilding. “When you lose something you have to move on from that loss. … I think when you have a faith community, you have to continue to rebuild.”
Throughout the rebuilding process, the church “family” grew back together again, Schetter said.
As it opened its doors Saturday, Schetter said he thinks the sanctuary will “inspire people.”
Very little was rescued and reused from the previous sanctuary, built in 1958, though firefighters were able to unearth the tabernacle, which was buried under 3,000 pounds of rubble, Schetter said.
It was rebuilt and refurbished and is “looking brand new,” he said. “It’s the only thing from the old church you’ll see.”
Reach Danae King at 567-242-0511 or on Twitter @DanaeKing.