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Kentucky Tornadoes: Catholics Rally to Help Parishioners, Neighbors in Need

Last Sunday, Father David Kennedy had good reasons to cancel the 10am Mass at Resurrection parish in Dawson Springs, Kentucky: The church building’s structure was unstable, and his parishioners were dealing with devastation from five tornadoes that hit western Kentucky and surrounding states Dec. 10 and 11.  

But in the end, he did celebrate the Mass when parishioner Larry Fannin — grateful that only his barn had been damaged — drove to Father Kennedy’s house 15 miles away, in Earlington, as soon as the downed trees were cleared from his road. 

“The tornado went all around his house and didn’t kill him,” said Father Kennedy, who also pastors Immaculate Conception in Earlington and Holy Cross in Providence. The most powerful of the tornadoes destroyed Resurrection’s 51-year-old church and part of Dawson Springs as it cut a path of death and destruction more than 200 miles long and a mile wide through western Kentucky and two other states. The tornado missed Earlington by a half mile and didn’t reach Providence, Father Kennedy said.

“It was just [Fannin] and me having Mass for the whole parish,” the priest said. “Nobody else could be there, and, of course, we couldn’t be at the regular church. It was so special.”

The loss of a church doesn’t compare with the storm’s toll of more than 90 lives — including 77 in Kentucky — the highest tornado death toll in the state’s history. But Father Kennedy and his flock, along with thousands whose loss of homes and other buildings is now believed to be in the billions, are considering the path to recovery.

The tornadoes that hit the region that night struck hardest in the communities of Dawson Springs, Bowling Green and Mayfield in the Owensboro Diocese. As search-and-rescue efforts continue and crews work to restore power, gas and water, Catholic Charities and other organizations are working to meet residents’ basic needs. 

Read more at National Catholic Register

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