An iconic symbol of history and faith that survived more than eight centuries wound up vulnerable to fire on Monday.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris burned for hours as French firefighters worked to contain the blaze. By Monday night, French authorities said the structure could be saved but not before fire caused the roof to collapse, destroyed a spire and spread to a portion of the cathedral's rectangular towers.
Father Tom Cloherty watched news coverage of the fire from his post at the Prince of Peace Catholic Community in Plano.
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"Just feeling very heartbroken," Cloherty said. "I know it's such an icon for Paris, an icon for France, but it's an icon for the Catholic Church. It's an icon for the world."
The Catholic priest's memories of Notre Dame are fresh in his mind. He'd just returned from a visit to the cathedral two weeks ago, snapping photos of a monument he imagined would stand for generations to come.
"I think that's made the impact a little bit more sorrowful for me in that sense of just having been there," Cloherty said. "The pictures from it, of just knowing that future generations will never be able to enjoy that."
Cloherty recalled his recent visit and watching tourists from all walks of life admire Notre Dame.
"You could hear different conversations and people that you could tell were of different faith expressions, but they had come to see Notre Dame knowing that it is such an incredible representation of a sense of faith, regardless of what that faith may be," he explained.
And while much of the landmark was damaged, Cloherty said the fire is a reminder to be grateful for what does remain.
"One of the shots I noticed on the internet was people kneeling around the safe perimeter that was set up and praying," he said. "Something like this doesn't stop the gift of faith, doesn't stop people's belief."
"It certainly is a moment that causes all of us to pause and to reflect, but it doesn’t stop the action of God in people's lives," he continued.