Athens Review, Athens, Texas

August 21, 2013

Praise without ceasing

Malakoff church hanging tough after fire

Joe Elerson
The Athens Review

Athens — MALAKOFF — When tragedy strikes, things are always made a little easier when you have a community of people ready to help their fellow man.

Almost four months ago to the day, a 38-year-old man had an apparent medical condition and drove his car into the front of the Mary Queen of Heaven Catholic Church on County Road 1703.

Father William Palmer said the church was a total loss after fire engulfed the inside of the building. What is left now is plywood on the front and a reminder of what happened at the church on April 25.

“For me, this was a huge change,” Palmer said. “There are things that I took for granted and things that were destroyed in the building that were personal things. Many of the things came from my ordination and I can replace them, but they were gifts given to me.”

Father Palmer said the wreck not only impacted the community and the driver of the vehicle, but also the members of his church.

“Lives were changed positively in this and that is a testament to God,” Palmer said. “Often what God has in store, we haven't got a clue as to what to expect. When something like this happens, God is there and we were able to recognize it.”

Malakoff Independent School District and the Malakoff United Methodist Church stepped up when the church burned as a way to help their fellow brothers and sisters.

Palmer said those organizations have allowed his congregation to have mass and other events that the Catholic church offers every day of the week.

“The good works that were granted to us by people — no matter what their faith — they recognized that this was a really bad thing that happened and that they felt bad for us,” Palmer said. “The response to that was that we offer ourselves back to them and it is to the work of God.”

For those affected by the wreck, Palmer said he is thankful for how the community helped during the church’s time of need.

“We are thankful to everybody and it was overwhelming the response of people,” Palmer said. “The fire departments that were here, the ambulance service, police officers and everybody was amazing. They would come and visit with us and give us well wishes.”

With time, the members of Mary Queen of Heaven are healing and Palmer said he is ready to see the old building gone from their land.

“To look at it is like looking backward almost,” Palmer said. “We have different things happening that are saying that we are moving forward. We have things coming back and there is more to come. It is a long process, but it is a journey right now.”