ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — When St. James Catholic Church in Rockford was severely damaged by a lightning-strike-induced fire last August, officials estimated a $3 million cost to rehabilitate the building.

Almost a year of planning and repairing later, cost certainty is but a prayer for the congregation.

“The damage is still being assessed,” said Anna Deroucher, a parishioner of St. James. “And the cost to replace everything that was in the church is still being assessed.”

Deroucher was married at St. James and had her kids baptized at the church. She says she was initially worried the damage was so bad that the church would never open again.

The fire, along with actions to quell it, damaged “essentially the entire structure,” said Rockford Fire District Chief Will Pederson in August.

“It’s taken quite a while to get to where [we are at], with the roof being replaced, and tuck pointing being done,” said Deroucher.

The church plans to update the building during repairs as well, adding bathrooms to the first floor and upgrading its sound system.

Total costs could exceed the $3 million estimate, but Deroucher says she believes the church community will benefit from the disaster.

“I think it’s going to be a better way for all of us to come together and worship together,” she said.