The first masses were held over the weekend at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Dubuque after an arson fire heavily damaged the structure in early August. Father Lyle Wilgenbusch says Sunday’s services were like a homecoming or a reunion. The sanctuary seats about 700 and all masses were heavily attended. The fire had left foul odors of charred wood and chemicals in the church. Father Wilgenbusch was asked if that stench had been adequately removed. He says only a few people mentioned a whiff of smoke but there was also the smell of cleaning solutions, which will wear off eventually. Wilgenbusch was asked if he’d like to see the person, when and if there’s an arrest, be forced to pay for the repairs. He says it won’t be an issue since the church has been cleaned and repaired now. The arson fire August 9th is still under investigation. It’s being investigated as a hate crime. Graffiti, spray cans and beer cans were found inside the church. Damage was estimated at 100-thousand dollars.
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