Fire at historic St. Dominic Church in Breese, Illinois

BREESE, Ill. – Parishioners of the historic St. Dominic Catholic Church in Breese, Illinois banded together and boarded up the front of their church on Thursday night after a fire did some minor damage to the front of the building earlier in the day.

Fr. Patrick Peter said damage was limited to an area near the entryway. He said it appeared there was a shortage in the wiring next to a light fixture.

“The balcony is right above it and if it would have gotten into the balcony, into the tower, it probably would have burned everything down,” said Fr. Peter.

The church was refurbishing the doors as part of its 150th anniversary. The sanctuary was not damaged. Church members were thankful someone noticed smoke and called the church. A church employee called firefighters, who were able to keep the damage to a small area. The church is a fixture in Breese.

“It’s made of stone. It’s beautiful. It just means a ton to us,” said St. Dominic parishioner Vernon Mohesky.

He called it a blessing that the fire started in the afternoon when someone was able to spot it. Mohesky feared what would have happened if the fire started in the middle of the night.

“It probably would have been catastrophic because it would have sucked itself up into the bell tower and then to the top of the church,” he said. “It would have been over.”

In 1855, Catholic immigrants in the area had a desire to build a house of worship. The church was completed in December 1869, less than two years before Breese was even recognized as a town.