San Jose church resurrected 4 years after being destroyed in fire

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Parishioners in the South Bay are celebrating the resurrection of a church destroyed in a fire nearly four years ago.

Holy Cross Catholic Church in San Jose has been rebuilt and opened its doors to the community Friday afternoon.

The new building is a stark difference to how the original was left following the destructive fire on November 16th, 2014.

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The cause of that incident was never determined by fire investigators but the long-lasting memories remain.

"I was baptized here when I was 12 days old, and that's 97 years ago," said Antoinette Fitzgerald of San Jose. Holy Cross carries special meaning to her and her family. "My mom was married here, I was married here, my daughter was married here."

Fitzgerald witnessed as the church burned down. Four years later, she walked proudly into the new sanctuary for its inaugural mass.

"It's something we have all waited for and are just thrilled to have," she said.

The design of the new Holy Cross Church allows for more natural light. While the structure is completely new, there are some elements from the original church.

"We tried to salvage at least the most precious part of the older church and we were able to do that," said Rev. Livio Stella.

The most significant item saved was the wooden crucifix that now hangs over the altar.

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"It didn't burn and a lot of people said it was a miracle, the firefighters brought it down and we restored it and we put it back up there again," said architect Ramiro Torres.

The stainless glass windows are also the original ones and have been refurbished.

The price tag for the new building runs at $7 million - most of it covered by insurance and the Diocese of San Jose. The rest of the money came from parishioners who held countless fundraisers.

"People donated to the fixtures in the church, it's been a beautiful thing for the parishioners to do," said Fitzgerald.

Even though it's not the exact same church, these believers are blessed to have a place to worship once again. "We're really blessed to get our church back," said church member Dorothy Bua.

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