SAINT BENEDICT, La. -- For the first time since devastating flooding three months ago, St. Joseph Abbey started regular and daily services Sunday.

“We wanted to make sure we got a seat so we came an hour early,” said Kerry Benson. She and her husband lived near St. Joseph Abbey for years, attending mass regularly, even after flooding forced them to move to Loranger.

“When it closed we were just waiting for this day because we find it to be a unique and special place for both of us to worship,” she explained.

Her husband agreed.

“It's a multi-sensory worship service that has just the most incredible feeling of communion with God,” said Bobby Benson.

Allen Scott said the church is like family.

“The great feeling of solitude, it's wonderful,” he explained. “You can really be with yourself and pray. It is like coming home, because I’ve gotten close to all the monks here.”

That's why when storm waters flooded the basement, there was an outpouring of community support. It was much needed, said Abbot Justin Brown, because the church had no insurance.

“People have been very generous in helping us and we've been taking it step by step,” said Brown.

Cleanup remediation and reconstruction will cost close to $30 million. The most expensive repair was replacing the electrical and air conditioning systems necessary to maintain the integrity of the church's murals.

“The next step is to start working on the critical buildings that work to serve our mission, which is St. Joseph Seminary College,” said Brown.

Abbot Brown has high hope as they prepare for a record-setting seminarian class this August.
More than $10 million is still needed for repairs. Click here to find out how you can help.