NSW Police are investigating the cause of a fire at the Diocese of Lismore’s St Cathage’s Cathedral in Lismore.
Fire crews attended the scene at around 6.30am on Friday morning, with the blaze contained by 10am.
According to Fire and Rescue NSW, “firefighters gained access and quickly extinguished an initial fire, however, the blaze had spread to the rear of the property and into the roof.”
The neighbouring high school, Trinity Catholic College, was closed for the day.
On Friday morning, Bishop of Lismore Greg Homeming recorded a video message in response to the fire.
“This morning the Sacristy of the Cathedral was found to be on fire; the cause of which at this stage is unknown,” Bishop Homeming explained.
“The great news is that no one has been injured. No one has died and all we have is a damaged building; and a damaged building is a damaged building. It’s only a building.
“The Church remains undamaged because the Church is the people of God. The church is you and so long as you continue in your faith and in your love and your care for others the church will go on strongly; perhaps even with greater strength.
“So I’m not disturbed by what’s happened – it’s a building and I thank God that no one was injured.
“Please keep the Diocese and all of us in your prayers.”
The area is currently being treated as a crime scene, with the state arson squad forming part of the investigation team.
On the 19th of September Bishop Gregory released the following statement:
The Most Reverend Gregory Homeming OCD today thanked the officers of Richmond Police District for swiftly arresting the suspect in the yesterday’s fire at St Carthage’s Cathedral Lismore.
Bishop Homeming praised the work of police and other emergency services as well as Cathedral staff, and was heartened by the messages of support he has received since the fire broke out.
“In addition to the officers of Lismore Police Station I want to thank NSW Fire and Rescue Alstonville, Ballina, Casino, Coraki, Goonellabah and Lismore, Queensland Fire and Rescue Gold Coast, and NSW Ambulance for their combined efforts in saving the Cathedral,” Bishop Homeming said.
“The safety of parishioners, our priests and parish staff is our primary concern,” Bishop Homeming said.
“Beyond that, however, I do not wish to make any further comment as the matter is now in the hands of the Police”
Weekend Mass will continue to be celebrated in the adjacent St Mary’s Chapel at 5.30pm Saturday, and 9am and 11am Sunday.
Seating capacity is limited to 85 persons to allow for social distancing.