Signs of faith after the fire, local pastor reflects on Notre Dame disaster


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The world saw Notre Dame Cathedral as its spire and roof fell in flames. Now the recovery and a reaction to the tragedy showing symbols that are enriching the spirits of thousands.

French President Emmanual Macron has said that he wants Notre Dame restored in 5 to 6 years. Experts say it could be longer.

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For one Wilmington pastor WWAY spoke with, the story is not just the fact that a holy landmark caught fire on Holy Week, but it’s also about how people have reacted.

“When you see bad things happen it brings out the very best in human beings,” said Father Patrick Keane.

Father Keane at St. Mark Catholic Church never had the chance to see Notre Dame in its glory, but he says he is seeing the glory of God in the aftermath.

“The world cannot have enough good things to get us to focus on God in whatever fashion we see God,” Keane said.

Many took to social media saying they see a holy image in what was saved, the cross and altar.

“That’s one of the things to be grateful for because you can’t replace that stuff.”

Father Keane doesn’t think the unscathed gold cross should be taken as a divine sign, but a message for the spirit.

“When you see little things like the cross surviving, it gives us hope,” Keane said.”In the end the cross triumphs, the cross wins. It’s just like 9/11 when you see that American flag, you see it differently.”

The Mayor of France shared an image to Twitter Tuesday showing several holy relics saved by fire fighters. French officials told CBS News that the most precious one, the crown of thorns that’s believed to be the same Jesus wore on Good Friday, was also saved.

“Relics that survived like the crown of thorns that’s wonderful. So if God wants us to still have these certain things that connect us with our faith, that’s great,” Keane said. “But like I said these are physical things. We’re not also burying children that were there on a school field trip and the roof caved in on them something like that. There’s a lot to be grateful for.”

The crown, statues of the apostles and religious artifacts like the tunic of St. Louis all saved. They hold a historical symbolism of faith for Father Patrick, but for him they are ‘things’. What’s most important to him is that no one died. He says the larger sign of grace is not only in what was saved, but what is now being given.

“It just focuses on what is the reason for this week. It draws us to God,” said Keane. “This shouldn’t be a distraction but you see the kindness in people pledging over a billion dollars in aid. It’s like this isn’t just your cathedral, it’s all of ours.”