Amarillo community offers support through prayer after Notre Dame Cathedral fire

Amarillo community offers support through prayer after Notre Dame Cathedral fire

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - While some are sending their thoughts and prayers, others are reminiscing on memories at the Notre Dame Cathedral and all its history, reaffirming the fact that the loss is one for the entire world.

Life can sometimes throw twists and turns at us, which is what a labyrinth represents.

It’s a prayer tool, that was specially used today at the Bishop DeFalco Retreat and Conference Center in Amarillo to offer up thoughts and well wishes for the people of Paris.

“We suffer as Christians all over the world for this terrible tragedy, but for those people, that was the heart of the city,” said Doris Berg Smith, a board member at the Bishop DeFalco Retreat and Conference Center.

Smith is a board member at the center, and said it was one way she could connect with those affected by the Notre Dame Cathedral fire.

“So, to kind of be in communion with all those people and for them to feel the support that we have for them,” said Smith. “Even though many of us have not had the privilege of going there, we know the history, we’ve seen the pictures, and it is such a wonderful part of our history of the world and also history of our Catholic church.”

Those who have experienced the Cathedral first hand could only describe Monday’s scene as heartbreaking.

“I have been there, and prayed there, and seen the wonderful art and artifacts and things from our faith,” said Linda Astudo, the executive director at the center. “It’s just a tragedy, not only for the people of Paris, but really for the people of the world, because it was a landmark for Catholic Christianity and Christianity as a whole.”

Astudo said some can identify with the tragedy because of the burning of Amarillo’s Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in 2007.

“There’s still that sense of tragedy that we hold in our heart, in our experience, so I think it’s easy for us to empathize with those who have lost their church,” said Astudo.

For Monsignor Harold Waldow, the fire hits too close to home. He says he watched, hoped and prayed for the best as Saint Mary’s went up in flames.

The next day, God gave him a sign.

“That same afternoon, as I would be celebrating the 5:30 p.m. Mass, I figured maybe 100, 150 people would gather,” said Monsignor Waldow. “We had no church now, so we were going to be out on the lawn in the driveway and the parking lot. More than 1,500 people showed up... which was my sign.”

As someone who visited Notre Dame five times, he says he has no doubt the city will recover.

“Rebuilding the church was the easiest thing I’ve ever done in 49 years of ministry because of the faith and love of my community,” said Monsignor Waldow. “I can only hope and pray that the people of France and people who love Notre Dame will solidify their support and make it easy to rebuild.”

The indoor labyrinth is only open once a year at the Bishop DeFalco Retreat and Conference Center. However, there is one outside along with the stations of the cross for those who would like to participate.

Monsignor Michael Colwell issued the following statement in regards to the tragedy in Paris:

I, and the whole world watched in horror as the Cathedral of Notre Dame (Our Lady) burned for over nine hours. As Rector of our own Cathedral, also dedicated to St. Mary, I was moved to send out a Flocknote to all of our parishioners asking them to pray for the people of France, Paris, and especially the parishioners of Notre Dame Cathedral Parish who were witnessing the destruction of their spiritual home, their place of encounter with God. As they stood there, yes, there were tears, but what impressed me so deeply was the witness of their faith to the world. They spontaneously burst into prayer and songs of praise to God and songs of devotion to Our Lady. I felt a true sense of solidarity with those worshipers, not only because of our shared faith, or that we too are a Cathedral Parish, but also because our parishioners, over ten years ago watched our spiritual home burn to the ground as well. Just as St. Mary’s Cathedral rose from the ashes of destruction and continues to thrive as a vibrant Cathedral Parish in the heart of Amarillo, so too will the Cathedral of Notre Dame rise from the ashes of destruction, and return to her former glory, as the spiritual heart of Paris.
Monsignor Michael Colwell, Saint Mary's Cathedral

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