Local Catholic community calls Notre Dame fire 'very sad sight'

CHAMPION, Wis. (WBAY) -- The image of the burning Notre Dame Cathedral plays in the minds of the local Catholic community during Holy Week.

Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin (WBAY photo)

While devastated to see damage done to a strong symbol of their faith, those at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion feel relieved to know many of the relics and artifacts were saved.

"It's a very sad sight," said Father John Broussard, rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. "You know, I think all of our prayers here at the shrine go out to everybody out there in France."

"Of course it's always very sad when you hear of a church burning, but I always feel that out of something devastatingly bad, usually something good comes out of it," said Pat Boerschinger, a shrine volunteer. "That's what happened here."

She says the shrine was a refuge for her great-great grandparents and their children during the Peshtigo Fire of 1871.

"Actually they weren't even Catholic. They were Presbyterian, but they came here anyway and they were saved," said Boerschinger.

"There was a five-acre plot where the chapel was situated that was saved from the fire at that time," said Broussard.

Now an international holy site, the shrine houses relics that honor Catholic beliefs and saints. Pilgrims can see a piece of hair from Mother Teresa among items in the reliquary in the Apparition Oratory.

Although it is not a situation shrine officials hope to find themselves in, they tell Action 2 News they have a plan in place to save the relics and other religious artifacts if the tragedy at Notre Dame should ever happen.

"We would work very hard just like they did to secure the artifacts and the history that reminds us so much of our faith and why we're here," said Broussard.

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