The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

December 1, 2010

St. Mary’s of Lamar set for dedication, first Mass

LAMAR, Mo. — The rebirth of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, which was destroyed by fire almost two years ago, is nearly complete, and its parishioners will hold their first Mass in the new building in just a little more than a week, said Terry Riegel, president of the parish council.

The church, standing on the site of the former building at 17th and Mill streets, is a classic brick and stone building, complete with dormer windows, wooden pews and a cross atop the steeple.

“The idea was to make it look like a traditional Catholic church but then incorporate all the green things we could, like dormer windows and skylights to brighten it up,” Riegel said.

Some work remains to be done before the Dec. 8 dedication and the first Mass to take place in the church on Dec. 12. Crews were out Wednesday morning to work on the landscaping. The altar — made of brick and stone and boasting only a ladder — is missing a pulpit, chairs and other pieces of furniture that are expected to be delivered by Friday.

The journey to the upcoming dedication ceremony began on Feb. 8, 2009, when the church was torched and burned to the ground overnight. John Franklin Manco, now 21, is serving a 10-year prison term for arson as well as for two counts of burglary related to the church and to a house on East 18th Street.

“I don’t know how anybody could sit in here and feel any ill will toward that kid,” Riegel said, gazing at the sanctuary. “He’s just a lost soul and did something wrong, but something beautiful grew out of it.”

“It’s a phoenix,” added parishioner Jill Purinton, referring to the mythical bird that is reborn from its ashes. “This is a phoenix church.”

The church, 200 E. 17th St., will hold an open house for visitors from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12.

For more on this story, pick up a copy of Thursday’s Joplin Globe or register for our E-Edition at

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