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March 2, 2014

In remembrance: Henryville church dedicates memorial

Marks ‘resurrection’ of town from 2012 tornado

HENRYVILLE — Heads bowed throughout St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church Sunday morning as the names of the 34 people killed in the  tornadoes that hit Indiana and Kentucky just two years ago were read aloud in remembrance, as the church dedicated a memorial in their honor.

The memorial stone that bears those names is located at the church’s outdoor Stations of the Cross, which depict the torture, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for  Catholics.

“In so many ways the tornado was a death to everyone,” said the Rev. Steven Schaftlein. “This demonstrates the struggling with the death and coming to the hope, renewal and resurrection. It seemed to be a fitting way to tie it all together.”

Providence High School senior Alex Grover led the effort as part of his Eagle Scout project to help Henryville rebuild.

“I think it adds an element of spirituality,” Grover said. “It’s a chance for people to pray when they need help.”

In addition, Schaftlein hopes this will help raise awareness about being prepared, should a disaster happen again.

“It will happen again, if not right here, then somewhere else,” he said, adding that residents would then be called to help those affected, like so many came to their aid two years ago.

Some said they know that lesson very well now.

“You never think it’s going to happen to you and it does,” said Paige Bunch, 45. “You have to lean on your faith and friends around you.”

She was flying over Henryville en route to Florida when the storm hit. The memory is still fresh.

“It was like regular turbulence,” she said, adding that she heard about what happened once she landed in Florida. “I didn’t know if I had a home to come home to.”

“I remember it every day when I look out,” said 90-year-old Alma Hall, who lives just below the hill where the tornado blew away the home of Stephanie Decker, who lost her legs as she shielded her children from the tornado.

Though the memories haven’t faded, people are excited to see the town come back together.

“I see quite a bit of improvements,” Hall said. “I see places missing and new places springing up.”

“Everything has come back so well,” said Cindy Murphy, Memphis. “So many people came out of the woodwork [to help]. It was amazing.”

“It’s miraculous how it all came together,” Bunch said.

Schaftlein said the best way to honor those who passed in the storm is to keep the spirit of helping one another going.

"We need to continue to do what we did,” he said. “To honor them by feeding the hungry ...  loving one another. We will keep not only the memory alive, but their spirit alive.”


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