After a devastating fire tore through an iconic French church on Tuesday morning, The Very Reverend James Hodson reflects on how a fire that severely damaged a South Bathurst church affected the local community.
On the morning on April 16, Australian time, the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris caught on fire, leaving not just the French community affected, but left people from all around the world devastated with the news.
And half a decade ago on from a fire that severely damaged the St Barnabas Anglican Church in South Bathurst, parish priest Reverend Hodson said both communities have been left affected in similar ways, including their identity being affected.
"The people of South Bathurst were left enormously affected," he said, reflecting on the incident from five years ago.
"The identity of the people of South Bathurst were tied up with the building."
He said the church at South Bathurst was a place were the local community congregated as one people.
"The walls sucked up their hopes and dreams and now that the building is gone, the community was asking, 'Who are we?'" he said.
"But much as they loved that building, those people later realised that they are the church, not the brick and mortar."
The congregation of St Barnabas has been meeting at the St Joseph's Chapel in Perthville since February, 2014, after the fire destroyed the church in South Bathurst.
A man was charged with deliberately setting fire to the historic building two months later.
At the time of the fire in Notre Dame, the building was undergoing renovations, but it is believed that the fire was an accident.
Notre Dame is a medieval Catholic cathedral, with construction beginning in 1160. It was completed almost two hundreds years later in 1345.
Popular interest in the cathedral grew soon after the publication of Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1831, leading to a major restoration project for the building between 1844 to 1864.
French president Emmanuel Macron vowed that Notre Dame would be rebuilt, however, the time required to do the work remains uncertain at the present moment.