On Sunday, January 9th, the deadliest fire in New York City (USA) in three decades took place in a building 500 feet (154 meters) from the Carmelite parish in the Bronx, New York. Only one apartment had fire. However, smoke traveled throughout the building, especially the stairwells. Seventeen residents of the 19-story building were killed, including 9 children, the youngest being a 2-year-old who was visiting an apartment with his aunt and cousin, both of whom were also killed. Some 60 others were hospitalized with dozens in critical condition.
The St. Simon Stock – St. Joseph parish is providing outreach to those involved. In addition, a number of religious services were held. An ecumenical prayer service was held on Monday morning at which the Carmelites participated. A special Mass was held at St. Simon’s on Monday evening and livestreamed over the parish’s Facebook page. Auxiliary Bishop Peter J. Byrne celebrated the Mass and Michael Kissane, O. Carm., pastor of St. Simon Stock – St. Joseph, preached. Another prayer service was held on Tuesday evening. Most of the residents are recent immigrants from Gambia and are of the Muslim faith.
Two families from the parish live in the building and survived. The parish has assisted them with clothing. Catholic Charities has taken care of helping any of the other families regardless of religion.
Pope Francis sent a telegram to the Archdiocese of New York. "In offering heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his spiritual closeness to those affected by this tragedy, he entrusts the victims and their families to the merciful love of almighty God and invokes upon all consolation and strength in the Lord," the telegram said.
Fr. Michael wrote, “I do not believe any of the residents of the building who survived need any financial help, food or clothing. They have all been taken care of. There, of course, will be help needed as families relocate or come back to the building. I would say most are not interested in coming back.”