ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — This week marks one year since a lightning strike caused a fire that severely damaged St. James Catholic Church, one of the oldest churches in Rockford.

Father Jhonatan Sarmiento said a lot of work has gone on in that time to bring the church back to life.

“Nobody couldn’t believe that this was happening. And the first thing that comes to mind is all the memories,” he recalled. “I think everybody was in shock.”

Scandroli Construction has been working to rehabilitate the church, which was established in 1853.

Vice President Anthony Scandroli says the $3 million project is personal to him, as his family attended mass there as children.

“It’s really special to be a part of it. We couldn’t be more pleased. It’s taken a year, but with something like this, a rebuild like this takes a lot of time,” he said.

Scandroli’s biggest concern was the amount of smoke and water damage, saying that his crews had to gut the interior of the church from top to bottom.

“The whole interior is going to get put back together, new drywall and new pews. The organ is getting reworked,” he said.

Sarmiento said he is happy with the progress made so far and looks forward to being able to once again worship inside St. James.

“For all those who know St. James and are connected to St. James in different ways, just want to let you know we are here. I feel hopeful and the whole community is hopeful,” he said.

Sarmiento hopes the church can reopen next summer.