Queens Parishioners on Alert After Fire Set on Church Property

Tags: Currents, Brooklyn Diocese, Brooklyn, NY, Catholic Church, Catholic Community, Church, Faith, Fire, Media, Queens, NY

By Emily Drooby

A chilling scene was caught on camera as teens set off a gas fueled fire on the side of a school. 

It happened at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Academy and Parish in Corona, Queens.

The church’s pastor, Father Ray Roden, told Currents News that around 1 a.m. the teens walked onto church property, pried open the lock on a shed and stole several three gallon gas canisters.

The teens made rag pile next to the parish school, doused it with the fuel and set it all on fire. 

“It was scary that it was against the school wall, that wouldn’t burn. But down below in the basement window is an oil tank,” said Fr. Roden, thankful that nearby the tank didn’t explode during the incident. 

While he’s angry over the break-in, he was also worried about what could have happened to those involved. 

“Standing next to a roaring bonfire with a can of gasoline in his hand, what in the world? He could have blown himself up. He could have been killed. That was chilling to me,” he said.

“I hope it never happens again. Somebody needs to sit down with them,” Fr. Roden added. 

There was no lasting damage from the fire. Police are now searching for the suspects who took off after starting it, gas cans in hand.

This isn’t the first fire to happen at this parish: back 2015, a massive inferno engulfed the church, destroying the organ and much of the roof. 

That fire was accidental and caused by wiring. It left a big void for parishioners like Jacqueline Zaruma.

“When the fire happened, it broke everybody’s heart because we all love the parish,” she said.  Jacqueline was on hand for the church’s rededication in 2016 after Our Lady of Sorrows was restored.

With that history in mind, parishioners are wary after the latest. 

“We come here every Sunday so to hear that is sad,” said fellow parishioner Ingreed Candel.

Mother Clara Maria De la Cruz, a nun with Missionaries of Mary for Faith Formation within the parish, said that despite the scary incident worshippers know where to put their faith. 

“We know God can protect us,” she said.