Parishioners Pack Reopened Long Island Church for First Mass After Sandy

The Long Beach parishioners celebrated a milestone for St. Mary of the Isle

By Ida Siegal
|  Friday, Aug 16, 2013  |  Updated 8:56 AM EDT
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Ten months after Sandy's flood waters rushed into St. Mary of the Isle Church in Long Beach, Long Island, parishioners packed the pews tonight for its reopening. Ida Siegal reports.

NBC 4 New York

Ten months after Sandy's flood waters rushed into St. Mary of the Isle Church in Long Beach, Long Island, parishioners packed the pews tonight for its reopening. Ida Siegal reports.

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For the first time in 10 months, prayers were heard inside the once-damaged St. Mary of the Isle Church in Long Beach as hundreds of parishioners turned out for a standing room-only Mass celebrating the church's reopening.

 
"This is a monumental day, and it's a great thing. I's a sign, I think, that we're back where we should be," said parishioner Tom Mundy. 
 
Like so many of the homes in the waterfront town on Long Island, when Sandy hit, ocean water poured through the front doors and damaged everything in its path.
 
"Water came rushing in, we had about a foot and a half of water, almost the whole church," said the Rev. Brian Barr. "The floor got wrecked, the walls had to be gutted, the altar had a lot of damage."
 
It took a village to put St. Mary of the Isle back together again. Hundreds of volunteers spent many hours cleaning, demolishing and ultimately rebuilding until the job was done.
 
Parishioner Jimmy Scanlan helped polish the bapstimal fronts, the marble and some of the tile at the church.
 
"Things are starting to look a lot better," he said. 
 
Parishioners were forced to pray in the neighboring gymnasium at first, and then at another nearby church. But for the generations of people who call St. Mary of the Isle home, Thursday was a special night.
 
"I was coming here since I was a little girl, and just to come back and to see so many people at the door, it's very emotional for me because we've been through a lot," said parishioner Yiselle Silva. 
 
"Seeing it filled with so many wonderful people was something I didn't expect -- to be so moved by that, and it really was," said the bishop. "People were so happy, so happy to be going home."

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