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St. Peter Parish in Big Pine Key begins recovery process

Church was the hardest hit by Hurricane Irma

View inside the church of St. Peter the Fisherman in Big Pine Key shows the water mark on the walls, but the images of the Virgin Mary remained in place, seemingly untouched.

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO

View inside the church of St. Peter the Fisherman in Big Pine Key shows the water mark on the walls, but the images of the Virgin Mary remained in place, seemingly untouched.

This article was updated Sept. 27 

MIAMI | The church most devastated by Hurricane Irma, St. Peter the Fisherman in Big Pine Key, has started its recovery process.

On Saturday, Sept. 16, Parochial Administrator Father Jesus "Jets" Medina returned to St. Peter to assess damages, locate staff and reach out to parishioners in the area.

The hurricane left behind damage so extensive no one is allowed in the church, per the parish’s Facebook page. Winds from the storm tossed around pews and the storm surge left a watermark that signals how badly the building was flooded. 

Despite the devastation, Mass was celebrated the weekend of Sept. 16-17 in all 109 parishes of the Archdiocese of Miami, including St. Peter Church. The 11 a.m. Mass celebrated by Father Medina on Sunday, Sept. 17, at the parish’s outdoor pavilion gathered about 20 parishioners from the community. He celebrated Sunday Mass again the next weekend, also at 11 a.m., in the outdoor pavilion.

That will be the practice for the foreseeable future, according to a Sept. 23 post on the parish's Facebook page signed by Father Medina. He described the damage this way:

"The church building is unusable and needs to be rebuilt to code on a higher level. The rectory is uninhabitable and needs to be reconstructed. But we still have our ministry building standing strong. Here will be our temporary chapel, offices, meeting rooms and classrooms for kids as soon as we have power to the building. The pavilion will be our church on weekends in peak season. Next to it, we will have a trailer as our temporary food bank.

"We will work together as a parish to make things happen and recover and rebuild our community," he concluded, reminding "my dear Peterites" that "we are as strong as rock like St. Peter. We are St. Peter strong! And upon his rock, we will rebuild our church!"

The parish remains without air conditioning, phone or internet. 

To help in St. Peter’s recovery efforts, you can visit Catholic Charities’ website at www.ccadm.org or the Archdiocese of Miami at https://give.adomdevelopment.org/irma and designate your donation for St. Peter the Fisherman church.    

View inside the church of St. Peter the Fisherman in Big Pine Key shows the pews tossed by wind and water from Hurricane Irma. It was the archdiocesan facility most devastated by the storm's passage through South Florida. The church is now unusable and the parish remained without air conditioning, phone or internet as of Sept. 20. Parochial administrator Father Jesus

Photographer: COURTESY PHOTO

View inside the church of St. Peter the Fisherman in Big Pine Key shows the pews tossed by wind and water from Hurricane Irma. It was the archdiocesan facility most devastated by the storm's passage through South Florida. The church is now unusable and the parish remained without air conditioning, phone or internet as of Sept. 20. Parochial administrator Father Jesus "Jets" Medina will use the second floor of the ministry center as parish office, chapel and religious education classroom for now.

Comments from readers

Fred ford - 09/27/2017 05:39 PM
All of you are in our thoughts and prayers God bless fred

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