Sandwich Parish Recovers from Second Fire
On Nov. 22, parishioners at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Sandwich moved back into the re-rebuilt sanctuary for Mass. The re-rebuilt sanctuary suffered its second fire in two years May 20, 2013. (Observer photo by Father Andrew Hougan)
Father Andrew Hougan and David DeCraene (Observer photo by Sharon Boehlefeld)
By Sharon Boehelfeld, Features Editor
December 5, 2014

SANDWICH—More than a year after fire damaged the newly sited and renovated St. Paul the Apostle Parish here, parishioners again attended Mass in the sanctuary the weekend of Nov. 22-23.

Little remains from the historic, 1858 church that the parish moved from its original site in 2010.

The old structure was mildly modified — it held historical status, so was exempt from newer requirements — to connect it to the existing parish center.

The first Mass was offered in the sancturary at the new location three years ago, Nov. 12, 2011.

But a May 20, 2013, fire effectively destroyed the original church. An earlier fire on Oct. 13, 2009, damaged the parish office, but not the church.

Since the 2013 fire, the parish has gathered for Mass in the community hall. And they’ve waited patiently through a variety of obstacles — not the least of which was the hard winter last year — that have delayed the reconstruction of the sanctuary.

Of the original church, the altar, four pews — now in a cry room at the back of the sanctuary — and the sanctuary woodwork, called reardos, remain, said Father Andrew Hougan, pastor, after a Nov. 22 open house. The woodwork was extensively repaired and refinished, he said, as was the most damaged of the stained glass windows and the statues of Mary and Jesus at the front of the church.

Few could now detect the differences from the old church, since the restoration has been so careful.
There is one addition, in part due to the frugal oversight of David DeCraene, a retired civil engineer who helped oversee the project, said Father Hougan.

A mural, a replica of a painting by the Italian artist Raphael, now overlooks the narthex. (See photo above.)

“We’re home, we’re home again,” said Mike Botts, one of several parishioners  who were relaxing after the open house.

“It’s just a beautiful, sacred space,” added Doris Aubart, another parishioner.

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