When something’s been around in your small town longer than anyone’s been alive, it gains a sort of permanence in the hearts of the people.
For the people of Westphalia, Texas, their town’s centerpiece of spiritual growth was a beautiful church that had faithfully served God and the community for 125 long years.
But as the sun of summer blared its roaring heat from above, a single spark from an unidentified source began a fire strong enough to burn the entire church down.
The Church of the Visitation was a Roman Catholic church that had served the people of Westphalia, Texas for over a century.
That hot July morning of the fire, church members were excited as they planned to celebrate the nearing anniversary of their church. This would be a special day, and they liked to celebrate God for it.
But just a few hours later, their church was gone – nothing but ash and rubble as the fire still burned.
Joe Vasquez, bishop of their Austin Diocese, spoke with KWTX at the scene: “(It’s) extremely difficult and painful to be here. I’m very deeply affected by this and I know the people here are also heartbroken.”
The New York Post writes: “The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the state Fire Marshal’s Office were investigating the blaze Tuesday to see if there was any criminality involved.”
So far, there have not been any definitive answers as to what caused the fatal flames.
Vasquez spoke on behalf of the whole town, noting that, “The architectural beauty is now a loss,” which makes the grieving process even worse.
That and the long history and memories experienced within those beautiful walls.
Visitation’s congregation was over 250 members at the time of the fire, all of whose collective hearts currently feel singed by the fire.
Please pray for this congregation. They are strong in their faith and believe all things work together for good for those who love God.
Still, the sting of such a loss is great.
Pray for their hearts to recover together. Just as in cases when human life is lost, this experience will not be easy.
And humans of any faith can be weakened in the face of such calamity. We need to seek God on their behalf for unity, especially that they withstand the enemy who would love to use this time to divide them to shreds.
The church will be accepting donations for help to rebuild. The plans for this are not yet established, but they are certain that their community will move forward together to worship God and serve their Texas community.
You can contribute here: http://www.churchofthevisitation.org/
The walls may have come down, but their faith is not lost or taken.
God, who sustained them all those years, will be the One who restores them now. They seek His direction, and your prayers and support are a part of receiving that needed Word.