Returning Home: Our Lady of Guadalupe Recovers From Fire
SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- In December, a fire broke out at Our Lady Of Guadalupe destroying the church. Church leaders believe it was started accidentally by a tipped over candle. It tested everyone’s faith. Services were temporarily held in the gymnasium next door, but now the church has been remodeled.
“[Translated from Spanish] After waiting through an uncomfortable situation, we’re happy with the remodeling. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Church Goer Carmen Gutierrez.
It was hard on many people as the church means a lot to them. For more than 90 years, Our Lady of Guadalupe has been home to much of the hispanic population in Sioux Falls and the surrounding areas. They offer Spanish and English services.
“It’s probably 95-97 percent Hispanic or Latino in our community. Majority of Hispanics you’ll find have a very strong faith, many of them being Catholic. So this is kind of the center, the nexus of their faith,” said Father Kristopher Cowles.
” [Translated from Spanish] This church represents the body of Christ for the community,” said Gutierrez.
For many, it’s more than a place of worship.
“A lot of them would call, obviously like the church as their home away from home and when they first arrive in whatever city they’re at even if they’re living in a trailer court or an apartment, they will also count the church as their home,” said Father Cowles.
Father Cowles says the goal of the renovation was to keep many things the same, like the pews, but also update the church with beautiful details. Originally the ceiling was a light blue color. Now it’s turquoise to match the color Mary is wearing on her mantle in the Our Lady of Guadalupe painting hanging up in the church.The stars are also in the same formation.
“The more details you place into a church, the more personalized it is for that people and they realize ‘wow, you didn’t just do things randomly. You really thought about it,”said Father Cowles.
Allowing the church to feel even more like home for church goers.
“It looks pretty nice and everything. It’s more comfortable and feels good,” said Church Goer Felix Lopez.
Father Cowles say this was a blessing in disguise. With the remodel, he’s confident this 90-year-old church will continue to be home to the hispanic population in Sioux Falls for years to come.
Insurance covered most of the costs to repair the damage. However, church leaders say they would have never been able to do all these upgrades without donations from the community, which included thousands of dollars and even items like paintings.