Downtown Church To Finish Final Repairs From OKC Bombing
Oklahoma City, OK - On Friday, April 19, we will remember the 168 people who died in the Oklahoma City bombing.
The blast 24 years ago destroyed the Murrah Building and heavily damaged the surrounding buildings downtown including St. Joseph’s Old Cathedral. This year, the church is undergoing a rebirth of sorts as repairs neglected 24 years ago after the bombing are finally being done.
“It will be fresh and crisp and clean and beautiful, and it will be a stunning thing to see,” said Fr. M. Price Oswalt, pastor at St. Joseph’s Old Cathedral.
Despite the scaffolding in front of the pews members of the congregation are not distracted from celebrating Palm Sunday.
“In a sense having all this inside of the church is a symbol of what's supposed to be happening internally with us,” Fr. Oswalt said. “The church is being renewed, she's being refreshed, she's being repaired.”
The repairs come from the devastation that stemmed from what many considered an act of evil, the 1995 bombing of the Murrah building.
“The roof lifted off the cathedral and slammed down and just wrecked the whole church,” he said.
Plaster from the walls and the pipes from the organ fell into the center of the church and the stained-glass windows on the east side were blown out. But far worse from the physical damage was the loss of 168 lives.
“It was kind of a weeping of the whole city,” Fr. Oswalt said. “They used the church as a morgue for several days as they brought victims out, so we're just connected by what happened that day.”
It took two and a half years to repair the church, but those repairs didn’t include a new roof.
“Here we are 24 years later, and the parish has been dealing with the consequences of a very leaky roof,” he said.
So, the congregation stepped up and helped raise the more than $500,000 needed to replace the roof and the lights inside the cross on top.
“We got something that looks like a slate roof, it's a manufactured product but it will survive about 50 years,” said Fr. Oswalt.
Now workers continue the finishing touches on the inside as the cross on top of the steeple outside stands tall and illuminated once again.
“Now we're very much a bright beacon shining on the hill,” he said.
Everything should be complete by Easter Sunday.