‘But the Lord Was Not in the Wind’
Parish and parishioners roll with storm’s aftermath
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
August 20, 2020
ROCKFORD—A verse from 1 Kings, the first reading at Sunday Masses, Aug. 9, seems to have predicted what Holy Family Parish here would experience the next day.
Storms and tornadoes that blew like a hurricane through parts of Rockford the afternoon of Aug. 10 included neighborhoods surrounding the parish. Tree damage blocked roadways and driveways and scattered debris over lawns — and knocked out power.
For some, electricity was back on after about 12 hours. But many others, including Holy Family, were told by ComEd that power would likely not be restored before Aug. 15.
“We’re having Mass. We just have it by candlelight,” was the message at the 6:30 a.m. Mass Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at Holy Family.
As evidenced by at least one response to the candlelight Mass announcement — “Oh, that’s beautiful!” — Holy Family’s staff and parishioners mostly shrugged off the extra inconveniences. They are, after all, familiar with 
COVID-19 restrictions and with attending Mass in the school gym during construction at the church.
Besides lights and air conditioning, also affected were the livestream of the daily Mass, the Glory Time Story Time program and phones. The parish office was closed to visitors. 
Additionally, the adoration chapel was closed.
One regular adorer shrugged as she parked her car in front of the barricaded chapel.
“Back to our cars again,” she said, referring to the many who had parked outside the chapel to pray during the initial COVID shutdown that began in March.
Happily, Com Ed’s work came to fruition late on Thursday.
“We have power!!” said the resulting parish Flocknote. “The chapel is now open and the office will be open tomorrow.”
And a happy Father Philip Kaim, pastor, said after Mass early on Friday that the parish, and his home, and the gym where he works out are all up and running again.
New construction at the parish was also unharmed by the winds.
Other near misses
Three other communities in the Rockford Diocese— Marengo, Spring Grove and Elburn — also saw nearby tornado damage during the derecho storm that blew through northern Illinois Aug. 10.
But there were no reports of damage to any parish, as the tornadoes passed at some distance from each church.
Debbie Sakowski, director of religious education at Sacred Heart Parish in Marengo was answering phones the morning of Aug. 14.
She said there was no damage to parish property and, as far as she knew, none to any parishioner’s either.
Although there was some damage to a house in town, 
Sakowski said she wasn’t aware of any general appeals for help in the community.
Much was the same in Elburn, where Lisa Long, parish secretary, confirmed on Aug. 17 that the parish suffered no damage from the storm one week earlier. 
“We got torrential rain,” she added, “a downpour,” but no damage.
According to National Weather Service reports, there was no damage in Spring Grove, but The Observer was unable to reach Msgr. Joseph Jarmoluk, pastor of St. Peter Parish before deadline.
— Sharon Boehlefeld contributed to this story


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