Repaired cross sits atop St. Stephen steeple once again

St. Stephen Church in St. Stephen got it’s steeple cross back April 17 after seven months without it.

The cross was damaged last September during a late-night thunderstorm.

The pastor, Father Eugene Doyle, was awakened during the storm by the sound of a loud crack — so loud, in fact, that people two miles away heard it, too, he said. It wasn’t until morning, however, that he realized the sound was the cross on the church steeple being struck by lightning.

The cross was taken down for repairs Sept. 20, leaving an empty space on the area skyline. The cross can be seen for miles, and he missed seeing it when he was out driving, Father Doyle said.

Jeff Popp from Sentra-Sota Sheet Metal, Inc. in Waite Park donated his services to repair the cross. “That’s what everybody wanted,” Father Doyle said. “We didn’t want a new cross. We wanted this one.”

Terry Pogatchnik of Pogatchnik Bulding Restoration in Rice, whose parents are members of the parish, took over after the repairs were done to apply the gold leaf and put the cross back in its place.

Terry Pogatchnik takes the cross from inside the church to get it ready to install on the steeple.
(Photos by Dianne Towalski/ The Central Minnesota Catholic)

Parishioner Annie Trobec took photos from the parking lot across the street as it was raised and installed. She missed the cross while it was gone and came out “just to see that cross go back up,” she said.

The damaged cross  before being sent for repair. (Photo courtesy of Father Eugene Doyle)

The lightning strike not only damaged the cross but also the electrical system in the church, the electronics of the elevator in the parish hall and computer equipment in the parish house, Father Doyle said. It’s taken a while to get that all taken care of, and the cross was the last item to be repaired, he said.

“It sure is nice to get it back up there,” he said.

The handful of parishioners who came out to watch the cross go up couldn’t agree more.

“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” said Betty Pogatchnik as she looked up toward the steeple. “Praise God.”

Author: Dianne Towalski

Dianne Towalski is a multimedia reporter for The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine.

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