Jessica Pavish at the Notre Dame Cathedral earlier this month. The Everett woman and her husband, Jim Arrabito, have visited Paris many times. Pavish said the cathedral, which burned Monday, has weathered many disasters. (Photo Jim Arrabito)

Jessica Pavish at the Notre Dame Cathedral earlier this month. The Everett woman and her husband, Jim Arrabito, have visited Paris many times. Pavish said the cathedral, which burned Monday, has weathered many disasters. (Photo Jim Arrabito)

Notre Dame’s remaining foundation signals hope for the church

Snohomish County people who visited the Paris cathedral remember what was lost in Monday’s fire.

Duane Schireman is three years into a four-and-a-half year journey to become a Catholic deacon. Saddened by the blaze that devastated Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, he also sees hope in the ashes.

On Monday, the Everett man was working on a paper for the Archdiocese of Seattle’s deacon formation program. One of his sisters sent a text about the fire.

“I thought she was talking about the University of Notre Dame,” said Schireman, whose family belongs to Everett’s Immaculate Conception Church. “I thought it was better that it was the church there in South Bend (Indiana) instead of a residence hall full of kids.”

Learning that the Paris cathedral was in flames, Schireman said his first reaction was disbelief, “then just sadness.”

This past August, he and his daughter Jiena, an Archbishop Murphy High School student, attended Mass at Notre Dame in Paris. They had traveled to Poland to see a friend, toured Krakow and seen Our Lady of Czestochowa, an ancient icon also known as “the Black Madonna.”

Before heading home, Schireman asked Jiena where else she’d like to go. Her answer was Paris, where Jiena celebrated her 17th birthday and went to Mass in the now-charred cathedral. “It was full,” said Schireman, describing how worshippers and tourists shared space in the massive church that Saturday evening.

On this Good Friday, Christians commemorate the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The message of Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus, will ring out Sunday in churches around the world. In looking at Notre Dame Cathedral and the Roman Catholic Church as a whole, Schireman has hope of rebirth.

“I believe what we saw happen to Notre Dame is not unlike what is happening in the church right now,” he said. Alluding to the global sex-abuse scandals tied to Catholic clergy, Schireman said the church through history has had ungodly people and problems.

“Reflecting on the church burning, when everything was out, the foundation was there,” Schireman said. “It gave me great hope. The foundation was there — and the foundation of the church is solid.”

In Snohomish County, the newest Catholic church building will be dedicated April 28. Holy Cross Catholic Church of Lake Stevens, where ground was broken a year ago on a new building, will celebrate at the 10 a.m. Mass on April 28, with Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain in attendance.

The Rev. Jay DeFolco is pastor of the church on Highway 92 near Granite Falls in the Lochsloy area. Holy Cross has more than 600 families. But DeFolco said a year ago that with all the new and planned subdivisions nearby, “we’re projecting 1,800 families.”

James Arrabito and his wife, Jessica Pavish, returned from their vacation to France April 8, just a week before the cathedral fire. The Everett couple visited both Notre Dame in Paris and the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Rouen, capital of the Normandy region.

Arrabito, a photographer who splits time between Everett and Port Townsend, was the Schack Art Center’s Artist of the Year in 2015. His photos of Notre Dame include details of its intricate exterior stone carvings, and of the soaring ceiling now destroyed by fire.

“Any one of those cathedrals, how they constructed them with unknown engineering, is just mind-boggling,” he said. Work began on Notre Dame in Paris in about 1160 and took more than a century to complete.

“It was a pretty major feat,” Pavish said. And in Paris, “you’re never not aware of its presence.”

They attended Mass at the cathedral years ago, when their daughters attended Immaculate Conception School, and still visit the massive church on frequent trips to Paris. Even when people aren’t there for worship, Pavish said Notre Dame is a place for prayer and quiet thoughts.

“There are quiet spots and open spots” in a space rivaling the size of a football field, she said. “People are always in the pews.”

Notre Dame’s flying buttresses, a signature of Gothic architecture, allowed for high, high ceilings and huge stained glass windows designed to let in light.

“It was built to remind people there’s another world, to remind people of heaven,” Schireman said. “They’re going to rebuild Notre Dame. I have no doubt it will be better than before. And I believe the church will come back stronger.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Holy Cross dedication

Holy Cross Catholic Church of Lake Stevens will dedicate its new building at the 10 a.m. Mass on April 28. Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, leader of the Archdiocese of Seattle, is scheduled to attend. The church is at 6915 Highway 92, Lake Stevens.

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