By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
HORSE CAVE, Ky. — Our Lady of the Caves Church in Horse Cave, Ky., has announced plans to rebuild following a devastating fire last December.
The church building was destroyed in an early morning fire on Dec. 9. The blaze gutted the church and caused the roof to completely collapse. The cause of the fire was determined to be electrical.
Projected costs to rebuild the church are close to $700,000, said Father of Mercy Kenneth Soroko, pastor of Our Lady of the Caves. The parish received $515,000 from its insurance payout, which leaves about $175,000 for the church to raise.
To help cover the remaining cost, the Wendy’s restaurant in Cave City has pledged a $75,000 matching gift in support of the rebuilding effort.
“For 40 years, Wendy’s restaurant has been a part of the fabric of the Cave City community. We proudly celebrate when good things happen in the area and we grieve with the community in times of loss,” a statement from the restaurant said.
The restaurant will match every dollar donated to the church rebuilding project up to $75,000, according to the statement.
The announcement of the matching gift came as “wonderful news,” said Father Soroko.
“We’ve been praying to St. Joseph since we realized the insurance money would not cover the total cost of replacement,” he said. “We announced it to the parish on the feast of St. Joseph. We thank St. Joseph, we thank our Lord and we thank this generous benefactor.”
Since the fire, the parishioners have attended Mass in the adjacent St. Bernadette Hall, which suffered no damage. The parish hall can hold about 60 people.
Stokes Baird, a long-time parishioner who served as an altar boy at the parish’s first Mass more than 60 years ago, said parishioners were delighted to learn of the matching gift and said he hoped the parish would be able to match it.
“Hart County is very agrarian and full of wonderful people. But to say we are affluent is not accurate,” he said. “We can’t say enough about the gift. It was absolutely needed.”
Father Soroko said the experience, though traumatic, has brought the parish community together and made them stronger.
The fire destroyed just about everything inside the church, Father Soroko said, but they were able to salvage two stained-glass windows.
“One is of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the other is the Immaculate Heart of Mary. We will try to use them in the new sanctuary,” he said.
Our Lady of the Caves has about 75 families and 250 parishioners. It remains a mission of St. Helen Church in Glasgow, Ky. Both parishes are led by the Fathers of Mercy.
To contribute to the rebuilding effort of Our Lady of the Caves, send donations to St. Helen Church, 103 W. Brown Street, Glasgow, Ky., 42141. Donations made be made to Our Lady of the Caves Church. Sending cash by mail is not recommended.