New church planned for Fort Scott

The fire at Mary Queen of Angels Church in Fort Scott last summer destroyed the roof and caused severe structural damage. (Courtesy photo)

One hurdle in getting the parishioners of Mary Queen of Angels Parish in Fort Scott back into a church is now behind all the parties involved: the negotiations between the insurance company, the Diocese of Wichita, and Mary Queen of Angels are over.

Parishioners have been gathering in the parish hall for over five months after lighting ignited a fire in the church’s roof late last August damaging the diocese’s oldest standing church beyond repair.

Looking forward to new church

The parish is looking forward to moving from the diocese’s oldest church to its newest church.

Fr. Yancey Burgess, the pastor, said the destruction was too great to repair the old church. “The engineers have said it would be cost prohibitive to try to rebuild it because the church would lose its ‘grandfather’ status and would have to meet modern building codes.”

The church was one of those founded by Italian-born Fr. Paul M. Ponziglione who helped establish many churches after he arrived in 1851 at the Osage Mission in Kansas. Because of the Fort Scott fire, St. Francis Church in St. Paul is now the oldest church in the diocese.

History is being lost

Many other churches established by the missionary are also long-gone. “Most of them burned down years ago,” Fr. Burgess said.
What is left standing of the Fort Scott church will be demolished in the next three months, he said.
“And then we’re in the design phase, putting together a master site plan and a capital campaign for what we’re going to build, which is supposed to take about six to seven months.”

Then the shovels can begin turning dirt, Fr. Burgess said, adding that construction will be about 11 months, give or take a few months after that.

One of the challenges is logistical, he said, because some of the materials must be delivered from the larger cities in the region.

Bob Ferris, who worked on the parish’s school, has been contracted as the architect. He works for Alloy Architecture in Wichita.