From National Catholic Register we learn how significant the Catholic Church is in Joplin:
The Catholic Church was especially hard hit, with the loss of the town’s largest Catholic parish and rectory, an elementary school and a hospital.
“It’s devastating,” said Gene Koester, principal of the local Catholic high school. “It looks like a bomb hit Joplin.”
“The neighborhood around St. Mary’s was scoured clean,” said Bishop James Johnston of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. Bishop Johnston was preparing to travel to Joplin today with the director of Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri. “Our biggest challenge will be addressing the needs of the grade school, which was just flattened, and pastoral care for families in the parish.”
All that remained of the church were some walls and a large cross.
“Father Justin Monaghan, pastor of St. Mary’s, was hunkered down in a bathtub at the rectory when the tornado ripped through Joplin,” said Recy Moore, director of the communications office for the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. “Parishioners were able to dig through the rubble to get him to safety.”
Father Monaghan was uninjured and spent the evening at a parishioner’s home.
St. John’s Regional Medical Center was hit hard, as well.
“All the windows were blown out. The roof was torn off. They’ve found patient X-rays and records 70 miles away,” said Bishop Johnston.
“No part of the hospital is functional,” said Joanne Cox, a spokeswoman for the Sisters of Mercy Healthcare System.
Immediately following the tornado, all of the hospital’s patients were evacuated to other medical facilities, triage centers and Freeman Hospital in Joplin. Some of them were taken to the local Catholic high school.
Read more at NCR.