On June 15, after a two-month hiatus, Mass was celebrated in Paris’s historic Notre-Dame Cathedral.
A handful of priests and worshipers donned hardhats for safety reasons as they worshiped in one of the cathedral’s side chapels.
It was the first Mass offered on site since a fire devastated the building in April. Before that fateful day, four or five Masses were typically celebrated daily at the church.
A mother and daughter from Holy Spirit parish in Centralia attended one of the iconic church’s last Masses before the fire.
Karen Timpe and her daughter, Helen, were at one of the later Palm Sunday Masses April 14 during their visit to Paris.
Helen is a student at Truman State University in Kirksville and was studying abroad for a semester in Brno, Czech Republic.
Karen made her first trip to Europe in the spring to visit her daughter. The duo decided to visit Paris on one of the weekends she was there.
They went the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and, of course, Notre Dame Cathedral.
“On Sunday, we got a nice tour of the inside of Notre Dame and learned about all its history,” she recalled. “I was even able to shoot some video of the bells of Notre Dame ringing. We went back to Palm Sunday Mass that night.”
Although Mass was celebrated in French, they were able to follow along.
They even decided to return to the church on Monday to get souvenirs before flying back to Czech Republic later that evening.
After a late lunch that Monday near the cathedral, they headed to the airport in time to catch their plane to Prague, Czech Republic.
They turned their phones back on after the plane touched down.
“My daughter had a message from a family member here in the States that said, ‘Notre Dame Cathedral is on fire,’” Karen recalled.
She thought it was a hoax.
“We were just there literally five hours ago,” she said. “There was no way that cathedral could be on fire. It was full of tons of people.”
She did an Internet search and saw the news reports for herself. She was shocked.
“It was kind of surreal,” she told The Catholic Missourian. “To think that this cathedral that has been around since the 12th century was on fire, and we were just there five hours before!”
She added that she was so glad that she and her daughter were able to experience the historical house of worship when they did. God had a plan.
“If our tour had been a day or two later, we wouldn’t have been able to see it,” she said. “It was incredible to be there and celebrate one of the last Masses (before the fire) in that cathedral.”
Days after the fire, French President Emmanuel Macro vowed that the iconic structure would be restored.
While millions of dollars have poured in from around the world to help with the reconstruction, experts say that the complete restoration could take 10 to 20 years to complete.
CLICK HERE to visit the “Holy Spirit Church of Northern Boone County, MO” Facebook page and scroll down to April 15 to read the Timpes’ post and see more photos of their visit to Notre Dame Cathedral.