Destruction is a new and difficult sight for Church of the Assumption parishioner Mark Cassman to see — just days prior to the Tennessee tornadoes, he had celebrated Mass in the church pews.
“It’s kind of shocking to see these signs on these doors, that simply says danger, do not enter, keep away. it’s not the way it’s supposed to be,” he said. “This whole entire wall is leaning south.”
The second oldest Catholic Church in Nashville, Church of the Assumption was ravaged by the tornadoes. Now, the wall is separated from the roof, the stained-glass windows are blown out, a light peaks into the sacristy through a hole in the brick and the massive steeple is leaning to one side.
“All the vestments had been blown out of the cabinets and they were in heaps around the room and there was dust everywhere,” explained pastor Father Bede Price. “The church was afraid the church was going to collapse, so we took the Blessed Sacrament over to the rectory.”
Fr. Bede and others risked their lives to save the religious art and artifacts from the unstable church.
In the wake of the storm, another hero is stepping up — Mark. His family has been a part of the parish for about 10 years.
“I showed up to be an extra set of hands and saw that there was nobody really leading the effort, so I just kind of stepped up and took it,” he explained.
He is donating his time to serve as a point person, getting the word out on social media and organizing volunteers.
While the future of the church is uncertain, Mark said one thing is for sure: the tenacity of their community.
“The faith is lived out by the people, and to see this community come together like this, it’s really amazing,” he said. “It’s inspiring and comforting to know that in dark times, you still have family that will take care of you.”