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Second arson attack, church shows resilience

The television screen was damaged in the second arson attack. Photo taken from the church's Facebook page.


For the second time in just over a month, there has been another arson attack at the Sts Peter and Paul Church this time resulting in “severe damage to the interior of the church”. The October 18 incident follows another arson attack which occurred at the church September 17.

Information from the Church’s Facebook page said that the building was vandalised, selected sections of the interior, including the pulpit, were set on fire with damage to the lectern and five monitors. Jamaica Observer reported the police are yet to make an arrest in connection with the first fire and no arrests have been made for the recent incident either. The Matilda’s Corner police are investigating both fires.

Meanwhile, parish priest Fr Donald Chambers said “our (television) screens may be down but our praise will continue to go up” via the Church’s Facebook page, October 20. “We have cleaned and patched as best we could and so Mass resumes in our church on Saturday October 21….Bring your hymnals to Mass! All are welcome!”

In September, brothers Jordan and Brett Wong, director and managing director of Coldfield Manufacturing Ltd, respectively presented a cheque to Fr Chambers, to start recovery efforts.

The first fire resulted in 80 per cent of the sacristy damaged, a cross on the altar partially burnt and a curtain that formed the backdrop for the Sacred Heart shrine was completely burnt, according to the Observer.

The publication reported that the brothers have had a long history with the institution as Brett was confirmed and later married at the church. “We’ve always quietly assisted with the soup kitchen and a variety of different feeding programmes as they’ve always reached out to us. We just decided we could do something… we figure it would be something to help you start off. We know that the congregation will make a very big response, but someone has to take the first step,” Jordan told Fr Chambers before making the presentation. Fr Chambers thanked the two donors and likened their donation to “throwing a pebble in the pond to start a ripple effect”.

He indicated that the damage is more than the estimated JM $100,000 given by the police. In moving forward two things will happen,

the first level, he said, is that of healing of the congregation. “When these things happen, people feel angry, people feel upset, and the greatest expression many have used is that they feel violated and abused; so the first level is healing – the emotional and spiritual – and that is ongoing”, Fr Chambers told the daily.

He said that the second level is material, which means looking at the vestments and other holy items destroyed by the fire and the need for electrical repairs including rewiring.