A Message From Fr. Bob Poole Concerning the Fire at St. Philip Parish – February 15, 2024

Please see below a message from Fr. Bob Poole concerning yesterday’s fire at St. Philip Parish:

“By now, I am sure that you have heard the distressing news about the fire that broke out last night at St Philip’s church. Ironically, yesterday was Ash Wednesday, and an hour earlier we had just been receiving ashes on our foreheads during Mass at the church!

The good news is that no-one was injured, the church was empty and locked up after the 7pm Mass had ended. Also, the early raising of the alarm by someone passing by the church who noticed the fire breaking out, and the prompt action on the part of the fire crews, meant that the fire damage was contained to the bell tower. Unfortunately, the neon cross on the top of the tower fell down, and other debris had to be cleared from the tower as a result of the fire, but the main body of the church was undamaged apart from some water falling down onto the balcony and into the lobby from the tower.

We are still awaiting official notice as to the cause of the fire, but it looks for now as if some electrical fault in the wire leading up to the cross is responsible. At the moment, we are concentrating on cleaning up the debris from the blaze. My thanks to the Knights for volunteering their service to help with the clean-up, and to all those who reached out to express their loving concern and promise of prayers and offers of help. Thanks also to St Philip School for the offer of the use of their premises for our liturgies. Also, to the ministers of the Richmond ministerial group for reaching out to us.

We are intending to resume full services in the church very soon, once we are able. But for now, because of the remaining moisture in the church, and the smell of smoke, we will be holding the Stations of the Cross this Friday, and the Saturday evening and Sunday morning Masses in the church hall, and probably the Monday evening Mass as well. Going forward, it looks as if the usual rhythm of the Lenten season will be able to proceed normally in the church itself. For now, entrance into the hall for Mass this weekend will be through the side door of the church and also the doors leading into the annex.

Archbishop Marcel Damphousse has told me that he will be sending a personal letter of support, which I will be reading out this weekend. My thanks to him and the diocesan staff for their kindness.”

Fr. Bob Poole, Pastor, St. Philip Parish and St. Clare Mission

The Parish community also thanks the Ottawa Fire Service and the local volunteer firefighters, who acted quickly to put out the fire and whose efforts no doubt stopped it from spreading.