Catholic Church destroyed by Tornado in Joplin, MO

Last night a large tornado tore into Joplin, MO.

A church was destroyed. The priest is, I hear, safe.

You might say a prayer for the priest and parishioners as they rebuild.

Sometimes a set back like this can result in a blessing.

Brick by brick.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Ralph says:

    What of our Lord reserved in the Tabernacle?

  2. Jerry says:

    The Catholic hospital in Joplin also experienced a direct hit from the tornado and suffered severe damage.

  3. Hieronymus says:

    I will certainly pray for all the victims. What incredible devastation!

    If there is to be a silver lining, though, now they do have the possibility of building a beautiful church with insurance money. I don’t mean to make light of their suffering, but they have been provided a rare opportunity to get beyond the 60’s style architecture of the older building. Build something glorious for God!

  4. RichR says:

    I’m glad that no one was hurt.

    If they want a recommendation for a good architect, try:

  5. APX says:

    I’m glad that no one was hurt.

    While no one was hurt in the church, the last I heard the death toll was 116 people and entire neighbourhoods were completely flattened. They say this was the deadliest tornado since 1953.

  6. May God have mercy on the victims of this tragedy. My prayers are with our brothers and sisters in Christ at St. Mary’s, Joplin that they may know the peace of Jesus. May their new building project be to the Greater Glory of God.

  7. SonofMonica says:

    My mother and other family members drove through the area just a couple of hours before tornado hit. The tornado actually crossed the highway that she took home from St. Louis. Needless to say, I am extremely grateful that they left St. Louis when they did. May the Lord have mercy on the departed. As for any potential desecration to Our Lord in the Eucharist, the Fatima Chaplet prayers do seem appropriate, and are printed below if you care to make an act of reparation. We certainly do not know what happen to the reserved Sacrament in Joplin, but there are enough offenses to Our Lord, that it wouldn’t hurt to go ahead and pray, anyway.

    Oh Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Eucharist that I pray: My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love You! I beg pardon for all those that do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love You. Oh Most Holy Trinity, I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the Most Blessed Sacrament! My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love You! I beg pardon for all those that do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love You. Oh Most Holy Trinity, I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the Most Blessed Sacrament! Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven, and help especially those most in need of Thy Mercy. Oh Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly. I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary I beg the conversion of poor sinners. Amen

  8. The cross is still standing in the second photo. Awesome.

  9. jvacek says:

    I heard an update that Father took cover in his tub and was pulled out of the rubble by parishioners. The elementary school is what used to be to the right of the church. The church, school, parish center and rectory appear to be completely gone. Hopefully with the guidance of our wonderful Bishop, we should see a more beautiful and traditional church rise in its place. Keep us in your prayers as we continue to recover while getting pounded with heavy storms and chances of tornadoes through Wednesday.

  10. bookworm says:

    With a death toll that high I would imagine that at least some parishioners are among the dead and many more are likely injured or homeless.

    The parish I grew up in experienced a tornado strike a few years ago, in which one parishioner was killed and the church suffered significant damage that took some time to repair. To this day every weekend Mass at this parish includes a petition for victims of storms and other disasters in the General Intercessions.

  11. KAS says:

    Anyone know where to send a donation to help with rebuilding the Catholic Church and Hospital? Do I mail the check (very small but my bit) to the diocese?
    Been praying for the people of Joplin, MO. The pictures are simply shocking and the death toll is such a sad thing.
    Thank you for sharing the picture of the Church before and after–it really brings home the full impact.

  12. skull kid says:

    Note the cross of Christ stood firm despite the storms.

  13. sejoga says:

    Like SonofMonica, I had family in Joplin just about an hour or two before the tornado hit, and I thank God that they left when they did, because they stopped to shop in stores that are now totally gone, and they would have been in the thick of it when it hit just about an hour later.

    I have this horrible feeling that the rebuilding of this church isn’t going to be an improvement, however. The tornado may “result in a blessing” for the “brick by brick” file, but it’s just as likely to be a situation where the zeal for reconstruction leads everyone to think: “Bigger! More modern! All the bells and whistles!”

    In an age when most people can’t think of a more solemn and decorous way of mourning the January killings and attempted assassination in Tucson than whooping and hollering for the President while they distribute memorial t-shirts; when people can’t think of a more somber and respectful way of celebrating the death of Osama bin Laden than by congregating in large mobs to chant “USA!”; when people think the most meaningful way to get married is to spend $50,000 on a destination wedding in Hawaii after a bachelor / bachelorette party where the bride and groom got to have casual sexual encounters with strippers “one last time” before “taking the plunge”…. I doubt that people are going to see this as an opportunity for modesty, tastefulness, and propriety. I rather suspect that some lay committee is already salivating at the prospect of large donations that they can use to build their mega-church Shrine of the Cult of Me.

    /cynicism. Hopefully I’m proven wrong.

  14. BrendaM says:

    Bishop Edward Slattery of the Diocese of Tulsa posted this on FB earlier today:

    From the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau:

    Those wishing to send financial aid to the victims of Sunday evening’s devastation in Joplin may send them to the Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri Office:

    CCSM/ 601 S. Jefferson Ave. / Springfield, MO 65806. Please note on the donation “Joplin”. As we work through this tragedy we will discover more ways we can best serve the needs of Joplin.

  15. sekman says:

    I can confirm that the priest is safe, he was in his bath tub, parishioners dug him out. There were some people in the parish basement who were okay. This principal of the Catholic School is on CNN as I type. I live a mere half hour a way from the devastation. Two of the priests from my parish were on the ground last night into the early hours of Monday morning. The good thing is that there are a couple other Catholic Churches in the town, as it is quite large containing about 47,000 residents.

  16. jvacek says:

    I would guess sending donations to the diocese would be the best bet at this point. Here’s the facebook page ( and the website (

    This parish was very generous to the parish in Lamar that was burned down by an arsonist a few years back and I’m sure they’ll receive the same support in return.

  17. Cazienza says:

    Good grief…to see a church reduced to a shell!

  18. kage says:

    My goddaughter was bapitzed in that parish, Joplin is our hometown.

    For donations, I would suggest you send them to the Diocese

    Those wishing to send financial aid to the victims of Sunday evening’s devastation in Joplin my send them to the Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri Office:

    601 S. Jefferson Ave.
    Springfield, MO 65806

    Please note on the donation “Joplin”. As we work through this tragedy we will discover more ways we can best serve the needs of Joplin.

  19. Gail F says:

    The CNN web page has a lot of video on the destruction in Joplin, this cross is prominent in many of the shots. But I had not seen the church before now…

    Last I hear, the death toll was at 165.

  20. Henry Edwards says:

    For any who have ever harbored questions about various Catholic charities operations, let me suggest that you need have no doubt about the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. Its Bishop James Vann Johnston is one of the country’s finest young bishops, and a more faithful and orthodox priest I have never known. The favorite son of one of my two parishes and former pastor of the other, and as the straight-shooting chancellor–never a question not forthrightly answered–of our diocese, the “godfather” of our Latin Mass community. His diocese is a largely rural and poor one. I therefore hope he will receive adequate donations from outside the diocese to help the Catholics of Joplin recover.

  21. Jerry says:

    While Joplin certainly took the biggest hit, please keep the entire region of MO/OK/AR in your prayers. There were serious thunderstorms and flash floods yesterday, and there is a high probability or more tornadoes today. The NWS just issued the first tornado watch, with predictions of hail up to baseball size.

  22. Centristian says:

    Henry Edwards:

    Couldn’t help but be intrigued by your praise of Bishop James Vann Johnston, so I looked him up. From Wikipedia:

    “In 2002, Johnston and Frs. Kevin and John Dowling, saved a father and his two children during a hike at Glacier National Park in Montana. For their actions, the three priests were presented with the Citizen’s Award for Bravery by Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton on February 2, 2005. Upon receivng the award, Johnston remarked, ‘We were all very surprised, partly because it happened two and a half years ago. We didn’t think too many people were even aware of it’.[6]

    Considered somewhat conservative in his views, Johnston supports the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, although admitting he does not “hold a great personal attachment to it” due to his relatively young age.[7] He also supports the use of the Gregorian chant[8] and polyphony.”

    He sounds like my kind of bishop!

  23. Henry Edwards says:

    Centristian: “He sounds like my kind of bishop!”

    I’d hope he’s everybody’s kind of bishop. Unfortunately, many don’t have a bishop like him.

    I hope that Bishop Johnston won’t mind my recalling that, when he returned as a bishop to his home parish to deliver the homily at its centenary Mass, he knelt in choir dress in the sanctuary while the many priests and several bishops present massed as concelebrants. Then he remained kneeling to receive holy communion on the tongue while the priests all approached the altar to “take” communion. (It occurred to me that someone might have concluded from visual comparison of behavior and demeanor at this Mass that a deacon outranks a bishop in the Catholic Church.)

  24. BobP says:

    My prayers for all the people in Joplin.

  25. christycheray says:

    Seeing this devistation of a Catholic Church sends shivers down my spine. I drove by this church today on Google Earth and am shocked by the devistation that the tornado inflicted on this church and the community around it. By membership I have another congregation in Joplin, Spirit of Christ MCC that lost their entire building, Their paster and his partner also lost their home these 2 church families need all the prayers that everyone can come up with. Please keep these churches and all other denominations in the Joplin area destroyed by the tornado in your prayers.

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