New Jersey church burned in 2017 fire reopens ahead of Christmas

UNION CITY, New Jersey—Members of the Union City Music Project were playing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

Along with Parishioners at Saints Joseph and Michael Church, they have so much to be thankful for this holiday.

It’s been 22 months since that devastating fire on Summit Avenue that took the life of two-year-old Eddie Gonzalez Junior.

The March 4th 2017 winds were so strong they swept the flames and embers down the street to the 150-year-old church.

The steeple of Saints Joseph and Michael burst into flames and eventually collapsed.

Now the church is being reopened.

The rebuilding project cost more than $6 million and took some 18 months to complete.

Many skilled crafts people, liturgical experts, and staff from the archdiocese of Newark restored the interior and exterior of the church.

The focus, according to the archdiocese, to restore the worship space in an historically correct fashion.

“It’s a renewal, not for just the church, but fir everyone in the neighborhood,” Hector Pagan, a parishioner, told PIX11.

“It’s very meaningful we all have a church to come back to,” Kenny Garcia, another parishioner, told PIX11.

Having Cardinal Tobin celebrate the first mass after the fatal fire gave parishioners hope for the future.

“I absolutely love my parish,” Monica Brito, a parishioner, told PIX11 News. “This is where my life changed,” she added.

“It means the world to me that we have our church back,” Claudette Maroney, a parishioner, told PIX11.

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