News and Tribune

November 26, 2012

A PLACE TO HEAL: St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church gets post-storm rededication


HENRYVILLE — Driving through Henryville, some healing from the devastating March 2 tornadoes is visible, such as houses and businesses being rebuilt.

The students of Henryville schools are back in a new building, people are moving into homes again and churches such as St. Francis Xavier Catholic are welcoming congregations back in the sanctuary.  

“It’s good to see everything come back together and see things getting fixed, like the school. The school looks great, but it is still taking time to get people back in place,” said Vicki Horine during the rededication open house of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church on Sunday. “We’re not a very patient society, so we’re learning to step back and breath and appreciate what we have.”

The open house proceeded a special rededication service with 175 participants who enjoyed fellowship and a speaker.

“It has been wonderful. A lot of people from community came and it’s just a good crowd. I think all is very good. We are slowly picking up as people get into homes,” said the Rev. Steven Schaftlein of St. Francis church.

While the St. Francis congregation has been back inside their sanctuary for a couple of weeks, Schaftlein said that the rededication was festive.

Betty Jo Banet recalled the evening of the EF-4 tornado, as it was Banet who unlocked the church doors after it passed through Henryville and other parts of Southern Indiana. At first, everything looked OK, but soon extensive damage was discovered, which required the congregation to have services in the basement.

“It’s nice to see it all put back together like before the storms. Our church was full today and everyone is happy. It was very festive with holy water all over the place and lots of music,” said Banet, who has attended St. Francis since she was born.


Banet said that her son was displaced after the storm, but may be in a new home soon.  Jane Crady, Catholic Charities Disaster Relief Response coordinator, explained that there are still 300 families who are displaced because of the storm.

“This is beautiful and it’s really good to see this happen, and the community is starting to come back together again. There is still a lot of work to be done, but just to see the church come back is a big step,” said Crady.

Even though the town has come a long way, it is predicted that it will still take at least a year to get all of the people back into homes.

“It looks healed, but as you drive through, look a little deeper,” said Crady.

Mary Sullivan with the Metro United Way and March2Recovery explained that skilled volunteers are still needed, especially in the spring when a lot of helpers will go to the coast to help with the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.     

Metro United Way continues to offer resources and rent help to those who were displaced by the tornado. In addition, March2Recovery continues to hold monthly community meetings that offer residents the opportunity to share stories and even grieve, which is especially important during the holidays.

Lawrence Yochum said he is keeping a positive attitude.

“I think that it’s wonderful to have our church back. Everything is starting to come back,” said Yochum.

Traci D’Angelo echoed his response.

“It’s really nice to be back in our home church and back to some sort of normal. The last few months have been hectic,” said D’Angelo.