Every Sunday, dozens of families head into the Holy Family Catholic Church in Hooversville for mass.
But not this week.
“I noticed that I saw a burst of fire from the wall, so I immediately called 911.”
That’s what Father Karl did Friday morning, and a few hours later, the church hall and rectory burnt to the ground.
“I lost my mother and father’s wedding picture, I lost pictures of my ordination, and a picture of me and my dog,” said Reverend Karl Kolodziejski, O.F.M. Conv.
A miracle: the church itself was saved with just “minor damage” on the inside, according to Chad Maurer, Assistant Fire Chief for the Hooversville Fire Department.
Father Karl said as the fire alarms were blaring — the song “Come Holy Ghost” started playing in the church.
“That’s just weird. To me, it’s sort of like telling the people that things are under God’s control,” Father Karl said.
The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown credits the firefighters with “saving the church” and stopping the fire from spreading inside.
“I kind of just felt that leave it up to the firemen and God. That’s all,” Father Karl said.
For the time being, church goers are welcome at neighboring parishes, including Saint Anne’s in Davidsville.
That’s where Father Karl is staying while mourning the loss of the rectory, which was his home about a decade.
“What can you say. As long as no one got hurt, as long as none of the firemen or the rescue people as long as I didn’t die. These things you can’t take them with you when you die, so what the heck.”
He says one miracle that embodies that day: a statue of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus — the holy family — surviving in front of a pile of rubble.
“I think it’s a sign of faith. I think it’s God’s way of showing us that he’s there in our midst of difficulties. Well, you would be surprised at some of the crazy things you see,” Father Karl said.
He’s now staying positive and praying for those who, he says, have it worse.
“I said, what are you gonna do. What can you do. That’s life. Everybody has their difficulties and trials worse than me.”