GREENDALE -- Church services were held Sunday at St. Alphonsus Church in Greendale, just one week after a fire at the church canceled services on Christmas Day.
The church and school suffered extensive smoke damage as a result of the fire, and preliminary dollar loss exceeds $200,000. The fire at St. Alphonsus Church was first reported shortly after midnight on Christmas, a little more than an hour after the church's 10:00 p.m. Mass. Officials say the fire was contained to a lower level storage room. The church itself sustained smoke damage.
Church officials say it could take 12 weeks to get everything in the building back to normal, but a lot of hard work allowed services to be held at the church on New Year's Day, though the actual church is still off limits. The community room was transformed into a space in which to hold services.
Pat Szymaszek has been attending St. Alphonsus Church and school for her entire life. "I was in the very first graduating class. 40 boys and 12 girls," Szymaszek said. Szymaszek said she was very upset when she heard about the Christmas Day fire at the church. "I was sick to my stomach. I mean, this is home. Truly, it is," Szymaszek said.
In addition to the community room being prepped for Sunday church services, a projector was set up in the nearby gathering space, so those that couldn't find a seat in the community room could still partake in services. Church members flocked back to the building they love so much on Sunday, and said they were happy to see the community back together after only a week. "It's a parish that has gone through a lot of tough stuff, and we pulled together, and bring it back together," Szymaszek said.
Students are expected to be back in class at St. Alphonsus school Friday.
Firefighters from eight separate departments worked on the scene for about eight hours. An estimated 50 to 60 firefighters worked to surpress the flames and smoke. The Wisconsin State Fire Marshal was called in to investigate the cause of the fire. 15 school classrooms were affected by smoke. Officials are investigating the cause of this fire, and say no one was injured.