About 45 Texas parishioners are grateful to be alive after a deadly tornado touched down on Saturday night, crushing most of the St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church as they gathered to honor high school graduates, CNN reports.
“The tornado was a direct hit,” Peyton Low, a director of public affairs for the Diocese of Tyler, told the station. “Both ends of the building were blown out.”
Low said the worshippers received a warning to take cover as the storm approached in Emory, according to CNN. So, they decided to gather in a hallway between the parish hall and the church’s main area.
The Diocese of Tyler revealed in a Facebook post that they were all in the hallway when the tornado hit.
“By the grace of God and the protection of Our Lady, no one was injured,” the post read.
The Facebook page is filled with photos and video footage of the damage, which showed several walls of the building completely blown out.
The incident came the same day that about four tornadoes touched down in east Texas, killing at least four people, Canton, Texas, Mayor Lou Ann Everett said, according to NBC News.
“The damage was extensive,” she said. “It is heartbreaking.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said some homes were “nothing more than rubble” after the storms, according to NBC.
Meanwhile, Low told CNN that “people are using the term ‘miraculous’ ” to describe what happened at the church.
Parishioners held Sunday Mass outside the church the next morning and worshippers “gave thanks that the people inside survived,” Low said.