Saint Ignatius Church was one of the several places of worship impacted by the Centralia mine fire. Located at the southern end of the town, it was inside the burn zone and was directly affected by the fire in the early 1980s.
St. Ignatius Church was one of the earliest Catholic churches in Centralia, Pennsylvania. It was built just three years after the town was incorporated.
The cornerstone for Saint Ignatius was laid by Bishop Shanahan on July 18, 1869. The church was constructed of beautiful native stone and other local materials. It was completed in under five months and was dedicated in November of the same year.
St. Ignatius was the first parish setup in the Mount Carmel Deanery. In 1870, a rectory was erected beside the finished church. By the 1890s, membership at the church had grown to over 3000 people!
Near the end of the 19th century, the church had also added a cemetery and convent. In 1896 a parochial school was constructed across from Saint Ignatius to accommodate students.
The original, two story school building continued to serve the Centralia community until 1954. During that year, it was replaced by a more modern structure.
Like other buildings in Centralia, Pennsylvania, St. Ignatius Church could not escape the mine fire that had begun in 1962. By 1981, the school had to be closed as parents feared carbon monoxide and other gases were sickening their children. The priest also left around this time and moved to Mt. Carmel out of concern for safety.
Even as the residents of Centralia left, Saint Ignatius continued to hold mass until the mid-1990s. At that time, there were too few parishioners to sustain it. The last service was on June 25, 1995. St. Ignatius Church remained standing until November of 1997 when it was finally razed.
Today the only reminder of St. Ignatius Church is the cemetery near where it once stood. Families and loved ones still visit, keeping it well-maintained. Though, the church and other buildings are now lost to history.