St. Colman Catholic Church, known as "The Little Catholic Church on Irish Mountain", near Shady Spring, West Virginia, has been burned to the ground. Police are investigating the destruction of the Church, dating back to 1877, as arson.
The Beaver Volunteer Fire Department arrived to the scene Sunday morning. As of yet, the authorities have not released information about potential suspects, local Fox News reports.
The congregation stopped holding services at St. Colman after it was declared a historic site in 1984. No one was reportedly hurt in the attack.
The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston told The Catholic News Agency "The church, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places since it was built in 1877 was not regularly used. The Diocese is truly grateful for the response of so many fire departments in the area, but the little church burned quickly and nothing can be saved. The cemetery behind the church will continue to be maintained."
Irish Mountain, WV
The Church, St. Colman's, was the surviving remnant, along with the cemetery, of what was once a thriving Irish immigrant community, many of whom were Catholic. In 1855, an Irishman Maurice Sullivan bought the first tract of land and the community soon grew to more than half a dozen families.
While the area boasted of great natural beauty it was also isolated. This meant that the community of Irish farmers become virtually self-sufficient and formed a distinctive ethnic group. However, it also meant there was no central focus for their spiritual solace. The nearest church, St. Patrick's, in Hinton was close to 15 miles away.
In 1876, Sullivan handed over one acre of his land to the Diocese of Wheeling for the establishment of a church and cemetery. Several dozen people are buried in the graveyard along with unbaptized babies in the "Lost Corner".
Irish Mountain continued to thrive into the 20th century with 15 to 20 families in residence.
The attack on a Catholic Church comes just the week after the announcement of the reversal of Roe v Wade by the Supreme Court of the United States, which will make abortions illegal in 26 states in North America. This move is backed by many Catholics who consider themselves pro-life.
Since the announcement last Friday, there have been reports of an increase in attacks on Churches and pro-life clinics.
The CNA also notes "Catholic churches, crisis pregnancy centers, and other pro-life groups have been on heightened alert in response to threats of retaliatory attacks by pro-abortion activists in the wake of the landmark abortion ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 24."
Recently in the United States and Canada, there have been other attacks on Catholic institutions amind protests against the residential schools in Canada and their dark past, which say indigenous children forcibly assimilated from the 1800s to the 1970s.
The Catholic News Agency also suggests that in the past the Church has attracted the interest of "ghosthunters" who have claimed to experience cold spots and the presence of ghosts. They report that in 2012 the Church suffered a vandalism attack in which the phrase "This shit is not haunted" was sprayed on the front of the building.
Police encouraged anyone with information about the arson to contact Trooper D. Daniels at (304) 256-6700, the WV State Fire Marshal’s Arson Hotline at 1 (800) 233-3473 or Crime Stoppers of Raleigh County at 304-255-STOP or crimestopperswv.com.