All grades on campus for first time since December flash fire
By ROB HERBST
The Catholic Week
TILLMANS CORNER — The entire St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School family is back together again.
Those at St. Vincent de Paul adapted since a December flash fire damaged part of the school’s main building/parish hall. Students in grades three through eight attended class in temporary spaces at Our Savior Catholic Church and then Grace United Methodist Church. Younger students returned to St. Vincent de Paul’s campus in January.
But all were back home at St. Vincent de Paul on Sept. 24 as everyone assembled in the parish hall before students and teachers in grades three through eight made their shiny new classrooms their home.
“There’s one thing you can’t break up and that’s family,” eighth-grader Jackson Griffith said. “Family stays together no matter what.”
With everyone together, St. Vincent de Paul Parish Pastor Fr. Stephen Vrazel said “This is the way school is supposed to be.”
Fr. Vrazel’s slew of emotions ranged from excitement to relief as he reflected on the past nine-plus months while gazing upon the new parish hall as students entered before class.
“Extremely satisfying doesn’t even begin to describe it,” Fr. Vrazel said. “It’s extremely exhilarating, but relieving, that we’re all together under one roof again, that we have the opportunity to start the day together in prayer as a full community. It’s really a special day.
“It seems like it never would come, too.”
It wasn’t that Fr. Vrazel was doubtful that the campus renovations would take place following the flash fire, but all had gotten acclimated to their situation.
“You get accustomed to working with things halfway put together,” Fr. Vrazel said. “You just get so used to that after a while that coming back to a new building seemed like a dream so far off. It’s not that you don’t think it’s possible. It’s that you don’t realize it’s ever going to come. You’re used to a routine, making things work and then one day you’re back.”
Officials had hoped all would be on campus by the beginning of the school year in August, but that plan had to be pushed back about a month.
Work was done by Sept. 27 – the Feast of St. Vincent de Paul. The parish will celebrate in its new parish hall following the 11 a.m. Mass Sunday, Sept. 30.
“It’s just that when you pray for patience, you get tested,” eighth-grade teacher Denna Morris smiled and said.
She added: “We’re so excited to be home. We are all comfortable and loving the moment.”