The headline said, “Members are devastated after fire destroys church.”
But the members were not the only ones devastated. Thousands of former parishioners also heaved a mournful sigh as they read the obituary of the former St. Elizabeth Church at 25th and Ridge in East St. Louis. Its magnificence as a sturdy Gothic structure, enduring and immutable as they imagined, was exceeded only by the munificence of its former parishioners and pastors.
St. Elizabeth was center of the universe to them, the sun around which all life revolved for so many. It was their home, their school and their religion; not much else was needed. For generations baptisms, marriages and funerals welcomed them all and prayed them on their way to heaven.
Its’ reassuring steeple held four grand bells cast in Germany. One of them would faithfully ring the Angelus every day reminding the parishioners who they were and all was well. Back then the people of St. E thought nothing could ever topple their church or its grand steeple. They thought nothing so steeped in tradition and full of God’s grace could ever perish.
Those sad expatriates who reluctantly dispersed now mourn the final day of St. Elizabeth Church, the womb that nurtured them, and sympathize with her last congregation who also must bid her adieu.
Rick Reckamp, O’Fallon