Religions and Spirituality

Priest Thwarts Attempted Arson at Somerville’s Immaculate Conception Church New Year’s Eve

9d8edcadbe7f7360358d_sompixarson2.jpg
Paper towels were torn from this towel rack and set on fire in the sink beneath the cabinet, causing substantial damage to the cabinet's underside. Credits: Rod Hirsch
aee42ec767516ca21961_sompixarson3.jpg
Father Alex Carles shows where flames burned cabinet doors where chalises are kept at Somerville's Immaculate Conception Church Credits: Rod Hirsch
c88e719ccc8be97d8e13_sompixarson4.jpg
Father Alex Carles shows that the chalices stored in the cabinet above the sink where the fire was set were not damaged.  Credits: Rod Hirsch
1fd114c718f2ffadb7c5_sompixarson1.jpg
Father Alex Carles discovered a second small fire in the sacristy, which left scorch marks on the wall and bulletin board. Credits: Rod Hirsch
9d8edcadbe7f7360358d_sompixarson2.jpg

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Police and fire officials are investigating an attempted arson at Immaculate Conception R.C. Church late New Year’s Eve.

Two separate fires were lit in the sacristy at the rear of the church at 35 Mountain Blvd. sometime between 10:15 and 11:15 p.m., according to Rev. Alex Carles, who discovered both fires inside the room.

He had just finished a worship service and was returning hymnals to the sacristy, where the church stores priests’ vestments, chalices, vessels for water and wine used during Communion and other sacred items.

Sign Up for E-News

The double doors into the sacristy were closed but the lock had been jimmied and smoke had just begun to seep through the cracks around the doorway, according to Father Carles.

“I opened the door and the room was full of smoke,” he said.

One fire was lit above a sink, using a roll of paper towels affixed to a wall cabinet above the sink. Towels had also been torn from the roll and bunched up in the sink basin and ignited.

Inside the cabinet were several chalices, used by priests to dispense hosts to worshippers during mass. None were damaged.

The underside of the cabinet and the wall behind the sink were scorched and burned by the flames.

The priest was easily able to extinguish that fire with water from the tap.

The second fire was set on a rack affixed to a wall, using a cincture, a long, rope-like cord with a knotted end worn by priests beneath their vestments. It had been removed from a nearby closet. The cincture did not burn well, but it did leave soot marks on the wall.

Father Carles said renovations, including a new carpet, had just been completed in the sacristy.

“Thankfully, the rug wasn’t damaged,” he said.

Police and fire officials were called and evidence collected. The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office has also been notified.

Efforts to contact local officials on New Year’s Day were unsuccessful.

Monsignor Seamus Brennan, pastor of the Roman Catholic church, and Father Carles relayed the incident to parishioners during several masses on New Year’s Day.

Roman Catholics celebrate Jan. 1 as a Holy Day, recognizing Mary’s divine Motherhood and the naming of Jesus.

“Yes, people are upset, you don’t expect these kinds of things to happen, but we are hopeful and praying that something good comes from it,” Father Carles said prior to celebrating the 2 p.m. Spanish language Mass.

Earlier this year a two-alarm fire damaged the roof of the church. A workman’s blow torch caused the fire to ignite accidentally while repairs were being made. The interior of the church suffered smoke and water damage.

Another fire in 1965 destroyed the parish’s former church that was located on High Street. The parish raised money and built the new church which opened in 1973 adjacent to the grammar school.


 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Elizabeth

Upcoming Events

Mon, June 4, 2:00 PM

Elizabeth Public Library, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Public Library Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Tue, June 5, 2:00 PM

Elizabeth Public Library, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Public Library Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Wed, June 6, 2:00 PM

Elizabeth Public Library, Elizabeth

Elizabeth Public Library Book Sale

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Goethals Bridge to New Jersey to be Closed Friday Night through Sunday

May 16, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Goethals Bridge to New Jersey will be closed to all traffic beginning 9 p.m. Friday, May 18 until 9 p.m. Sunday, May 20. 

The Eastbound to NY will remain open. Officials said the closure is necessary to construct the entry and exit ramps for the new westbound span.

At 9 p.m. Sunday night, the westbound span is expected to open in its final configuration, three ...

The 15th Annual Tour de Elizabeth Comes to Elizabeth this Sunday

ELIZABETH, NJ - Cyclists of every skill level are readying their bicycles in anticipation as the 15th annual Tour de Elizabeth that will roll through the city.\ this coming Sunday. 

This year’s ride, which is titled “Destination Elizabeth,” will begin and end at City Hall, is a family-friendly, 15-mile recreational tour of the City of Elizabeth’s historic ...

Suspect Charged in Fatal Hit-and-Run Flees Country

May 22, 2018

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – A 36-year-old suspect charged in the hit-and-run death of a pedestrian May 15th has fled the country, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Charges have been filed against Mario Infante, age 36, of New Street, Plainfield, following an investigation by detectives from the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office and North Plainfield ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.

 

Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...

20th Legislative District Assemblywoman to Receive Champion for the Common Good Award at United Way Annual Event

May 22, 2018

On Wednesday, June 13, 2018, United Way of Greater Union County will present Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, of the 20th Legislative District, with the 2018 Champion for the Common Good award at its 2018 Annual Celebration event. 

“I am incredibly humbled to be chosen to receive this award,” stated Assemblywoman Quijano. “I work hard every day to fight for the common good ...