Photos by Ed Casey

With great joy, parishioners of St. John the Evangelist parish in Center Moriches packed the church for 5 p.m. Mass on Saturday, June  23 as Bishop John Barres rededicated the restored church building one year, one month and five days after a man, suffering from mental illness, set fire to the church before taking his own life there.

While the finishing touches were put on the building in the past weeks, members of the parish community focused on their own spiritual and physical restoration, coming together for a Novena of Spirit and Truth which included prayer, fasting and service. There was also a night of fun to “take back” the school gym which has been serving as a worship space for the past year.

After the rededication Mass, Father John Sureau, St. John’s pastor, thanked everyone who materially and spiritually helped make the building restoration a success. He spoke of the need to continue to build and grow in faith.

“As a parish, the missionary work of the Gospel requires constant restoration,” he wrote in the bulletin. “So we have hard work ahead if we are going to continue the necessary restoration work that will carry us to the end of time. As individuals, what in you and in me needs to be restored? Where is forgiveness needed or where does it need to be offered?”

During the past year, the parish has included the man who died in the church and others suffering from mental illness in their prayers and has hosted events to help bring awareness of mental illness and resources that are available. As part of the church restoration, a stained-glass window of St. Dymphna was added. She is the patron saint of those with mental illness.