Skip to comments.Suspicious blaze breaks out at Bronx church St. Nicholas of Tolentine
Posted on 03/05/2010 8:36:26 PM PST by Salvation
Friday, March 5th 2010, 2:56 PM
The two-alarm blaze broke out just before the noon Mass at St. Nicholas of Tolentine as the University Heights church started to fill up with parishioners, the pastor said.
"I rushed over and smoke was billowing out," Father Joseph Girone said.
"People were inside the church praying at the time and they had no idea there was a fire."
The fire started in a former confessional-turned-storage room in the vestibule of the church, blocking the main entrance.
"I got them out through the rectory door," a shaken Girone said. "Lots of people have issues with God but I don't know who could have done this," the priest said.
"I'm very sad."
Investigators immediately suspected arson.
It was not immediately clear what was used to ignite the fire, which took an hour to extinguish, FDNY officials said.
Several firefighters suffered minor injuries when part of a plaster ceiling collapsed on them as they battled the blaze, FDNY officials said.
"It is very suspicious," FDNY Deputy Chief Kevin Scanlon said. "The fire accelerated rapidly [and] it was a heavy fire that didn't have the normal flow of a fire."
FDNY investigators are trying to figure out whether the blaze is connected to other recent church fires in the borough, including one that engulfed the Glory of Christ Church in Parkchester in December.
Parishioners at St. Nicholas - deemed "The Cathedral of the Bronx" - were disheartened by the blaze.
"Why would someone do something so evil?," wailed Marina Pietri, 46, as she picked up her son from the parish elementary school, which was evacuated during the fire.
"This church has been a pillar of the community for years," Pietri said. "I'm so upset. It's devastating."
The parish was established in 1906 and the current building has been there since the 1950s.
A church official said it was too early to estimate how long it would take to fix the church or how much the repairs would cost.
Some determined parishioners vowed to hold a "Stations of the Cross" ceremony Friday night as planned, even though they would have to do it outside.
Others were distraught.
"I feel sorry and I want to cry because this has been my home away from home for a long time," said Isabel Gonzales, 52, who has been a parishioner for 28 years.
"I just want to know why."
Is there a NY ping list?
St. Nicholas of Tolentine
St. Nicholas of Tolentine was established as a territorial parish in 1906, and its first Masses were said in a garage nearby. The record reports that 127 people attended the first Mass. The parish is situated in University Heights, as the neighborhood is called due to the presence in the area at that time of New York University. This developed into an attractive, middle-class neighborhood, predominantly of Irish parishioners at the second stage of their mobility upward from poorer sections of Manhattan and the South Bronx. It was a thriving parish, in the style of the best Irish parishes of New York City, and was staffed from the beginning by the Augustinian fathers. An elementary school was started in 1907 and continues to flourish. A high school was established in 1927 but had to be closed in 1991 because of financial difficulties.
Construction on the present church began during the 1920s. The lower church, which served as the main church for many years, was dedicated in 1928. The present structure was completed in the 1950s and consecrated in 1957. The upper church seats 1,400 people.
Prayer ping for the parishioners as well as the person who set the fire.
Praying for the church members.
FReepers want to help. Please advise Ali.
Lots of people.
Radical Muslims--buring churches with people inside is one of their favorite M.O.'s in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and other African battleground countries.
Also let's not forget Occultists and extremist homosexual "activists".
Prayers for the Parish.......and prayers that the culprit who may have started this fire be caught immediately and brought to justice.(Why would you pray for the person who may have started this fire?).
From the pictures, a beautiful church. Altar rail seems mostly intact. Surprised to see it burn so extensively—isn’t that all stone?
Back in the day my mom would brag how our all stone home didn’t require insurance over 15 bucks a year. (it’s arson)
Some of it just might be smoke damage too. A lot of cleaning up and fixing up to do, but I’m sure parishioners will be up and running by the Easter Vigil. That’s a good goal.
Aren’t we supposed to pray for our enemies too?
As long as he is alive, there is hope that his heart can be turned to the right direction.
Heck, I even pray for Obama, Reid and Pelosi.
Sad sign of the times.
Plus there is a company that does that too, seen the ads.
That is a building gem.
Well that is what Our Lord told us to do.
--I only care that the perp is caught and imprisoned for their heinous crime.
"Heck, I even pray for Obama, Reid and Pelosi."
--So do I. I pray that their liberal policies fail epicly and that abortion ends during their priviledged reign of power.
I’ve been to St. Nicks, and used to date a girl who lived in the area. Founded as an Irish parish, it is now (I believe) the largest Dominican (as in folks from Hispaniola, not the order) parish in the city. It is also where Rudy Giuliani married his first wife. Sad to see this happen.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.