For an Ames church, there's no place like home. Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church closed last September following an intentionally set fire.
“It's just great to be back,” says longtime church member Clare Bills.
The rebuilding took longer than expected, but Sunday's service was worth the wait.
“There was soot throughout the whole building. All three levels and the ceiling needed not just to be cleaned and repaired and replaced,” says Father Jon Seda.
One of their own admitted to causing the more than one million dollars in damage. 51-year-old Tina Meyer pleaded guilty to arson and is serving ten years in prison. Seda says it's time to move on.
“We choose to forgive. We don't want to repeat it, but we're ready to move on and really focus on people instead of a building,” he says.
The last seven months weren’t easy.
“It just wore on people. It was harder than I thought it would be,” says Seda.
“As the time kept dragging on we obviously became concerned, but you know, we knew it would happen eventually,” says Bills.
The wait made this day that much more special.
“There is a light about the church,” says Bills.
“This today feels like being at home,” says Seda.
During construction, Saint Thomas held worship services on campus at Iowa State in the Scheman building.