Old church sees new life in the aftermath of the St. Helena fire


It’s been a week and the smell of smoke is still in the air from the St. Helena Catholic Church fire on Olmstead Avenue in the Bronx – but repairs are currently underway.

Chief Priest Father David Powers is using the blaze as an opportunity to turn the turmoil into a way to bring parishioners together, while keeping them safe during the pandemic.

The blazing fire was captured via Citizen App video last Sunday around 8:30 p.m. started due to an electrical problem. According to the FDNY, it took them about an hour to bring the flames under control after being warned by a parishioner.

Powers said it was important to him that no scheduled mass was canceled. While the chapel is undergoing repairs, a temporary space was created for mass in the green building, which served as a library.

The new area allows parishioners to socially distance themselves as Mass is celebrated in two halls, which will help residents to continue worship while remaining safe.

According to Powers, the Green Building acted as the main church when it was built in 1940. He calls it a full circle moment in the sight of God.