In the early morning hours of Saturday, March 11, the garage at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Braham burned down.
A Braham native who grew up in the church is raising funds to replace it from Delaware, her adopted home.
The garage was primarily used for storage of items the church used for its parish festival. During the ongoing Lent period, the garage was also used by the Knights of Columbus to host weekly Lenten fish fries, giving a parishioners an easy, fun way to observe the restriction on meat during the religious period.
The church itself was not damaged in the fire, but the garage was destroyed.
Ted Dimbero, one of the church’s trustees, was one of the first church members to hear about the fire, which started around 4:30 a.m.
“It was unexpected of course,” he said. “Luckily, it was a detached garage.”
The Rev. Don Wagner arrived at the garage around 6 a.m., by which time firefighters had already extinguished the blaze, he said. When the fire marshal arrived later, he determined the cause of the fire to be inconclusive and gave the go-ahead for the church to start cleaning up the debris.
The destruction of the garage threw the Knights of Columbus’ fish fries, which are a major fundraiser for the Knights and the parish, into peril. The fryers the Knights used for the events were in the garage at the time of the fire. An emergency meeting of the Knights of Columbus was held to determine how to proceed. They ultimately decided to host a Lenten meal with an altered menu on Friday, March 17. They also planned to pull the fryers out of the burned garage and determine whether or not they could be used or repaired to continue the fries as usual.
“By next week we hope to get back with the fish fries,” Wagner said.
In addition to the parish, funds raised from the Knights’ fish fries benefited other local community efforts and organizations, including scholarships, food banks and the Mora Crisis Pregnancy Center.
Maria Kilmon, who has roots in Braham and now lives in Delaware, heard about the garage fire and felt compelled to do something to help.
“I grew up in Braham, and my family, we’ve been a part of the church since the build. … It’s the community that raised me into the person that I am,” Kilmon said.
Kilmon’s father is a member of the local Knights of Columbus group, and Kilmon had her wedding in the church.
Kilmon started a GoFundMe page to help fund the possible rebuilding of the garage.
“This is the one way that I know that I can give back,” Kilmon said.
The fundraising goal of the campaign is $5,000. At the time of her interview, 15 donors had contributed to Kilmon’s GoFundMe campaign. She said some were from Braham, some from Delaware, one from Florida, a couple donated anonymously, and there was one donor she didn’t know at all.
For more information on Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, visit stspeter-paulchurch.com or call 320-396-3105.
To contribute to Kilmon’s GoFundMe campaign, visit gofundme.com/rebuild-st-peter-paul-garage.