As parishioners prepared to celebrate their church’s 50th anniversary, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Phoenix, Arizona, was destroyed by a fire on Wednesday - the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.
No one was injured and the cause of the fire is under investigation, the Diocese of Phoenix reported in a statement Wednesday:
“This morning we awoke to the tragic news of the fire at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Phoenix. The Phoenix Fire Department is investigating the fire. The church building was destroyed and there were no injuries. We will have more to share as it becomes available.
“We are heartbroken for the St. Joseph Catholic community and we are grateful for the bravery of the fire fighters and first responders.
“There are tentative plans to celebrate Masses somewhere on the church property this weekend.
“Today on this feast day of St. Joseph the Worker, we ask the community to join us in prayer.”
“The church was going to celebrate its 50th anniversary jubilee in just a few months,” local Fox 10 news reports. “St. Joseph Parish was established by Bishop Francis Green of Tucson on August 18, 1969. Fr. John Cullinan was appointed as the first pastor,” the church’s website says. “Sunday masses were first held in the cafeteria of Paradise Valley High School for about 300 families.”
In an interview with Fox 10, Fr. Fred Adamson expressed gratitude to the other local Christian communities that have offered their support:
“It just goes to show you in the midst of tragedy how people pull together and how our faith carries us through.”
Catholics celebrate the annual Feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1.