Firebombed Ontario Church to Re-Open

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by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.  •  •  April 20, 2017   

Pastor Andrew Maderak gives Church Militant an update after the Easter Sunday attack

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YORK, Ontario, Canada ( - A Catholic church in Ontario, Canada badly damaged in an Easter Sunday attack is hoping to re-open within the next week. 

Father Andrew Maderak, parish priest of St. John the Evangelist Church in the Toronto archdiocese, told Church Militant he plans on having Mass in the chapel this weekend, and after further clean-up hopes to re-open the church in the next few weeks.

"The linens and vestments have been removed in order to be cleaned, and clean-up is taking place on the ceiling and pillars in the church," said Maderak, who has been a guest on Church Militant's two previous Retreats at Sea. He clarified that most of the damage is being covered by insurance.

The attack took place early Easter Sunday morning when 43-year-old Marc Porlier, a former altar boy at the parish, broke a window and poured flammable liquid into the sacristy, damaging the property to the tune of $50,000–$100,000. Porlier was apprehended Monday and is being charged with arson and mischief over $5,000. 
"I don't know if it was a cry for help, or, sometimes, people with mental illnesses, they want to get help but they can't get it," Maderak said to reporters Monday.
The attack prompted the city's mayor, John Tory, to visit the damaged parish Monday.

"When this kind of thing happens, it cuts to the heart of a community that has been a wonderful, contributing community in our city for decades,"Tory remarked.

"I think it must have been a divine hand that looked down on this church because you can see how easily the whole church, the wooden part of the structure, could have erupted in flames if it had been any different," he added, "but fortunately that didn't happen."

At Porlier's court appearance Tuesday, his attorney, Daisy Bygrave, said her client is "highly intellectual" and struggles with mental health issues. Porlier also appeared with his parents, both parishioners at Maderak's parish, who raised him as a member there before he went on to study economics at York University and then work in the finance industry.
According to his attorney, Porlier has dealt with mental health issues over the least 17 years. "He's very well-read," Bygrave commented. "He's read over 2,000 books. He's intelligent, and he has a mental health disorder, as I am coming to understand."
In 2011, Porlier made a 38-minute video titled "The Gospel According to Marc" in which he admits he once wanted to be a priest, but now considers Catholicism a "cult." He goes on to detail his later studies in Eastern philosophym mysticism and quantum physics.
Porlier has not entered a plea on the arson and mischief charges, and was remanded to custody after his Tuesday court appearance. He is set to appear Friday in bail court.
Maderak vaguely remembers Porlier introducing himself as a former parishioner several weeks ago.
"Sometimes it makes us reflect," Maderak commented, "'Is there something I could have done differently? Is there a better way of responding sometime, giving somebody attention? All these things go through my mind."
According to the St. John the Evangelist website, "The restoration team is hard at work and scheduled to complete first-stage of restoration for this Saturday evening Mass."
Father Maderak is also announcing that Masses will take place as usual Sunday, and that afternoon the parish will celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy from 2:30-3:30 pm, involving eucharistic adoration and praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

"Thank you to everyone for your outpouring [of] support and prayers," Maderak added.


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Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.

Christine Niles is executive producer and editor-in-chief at

Follow Christine on Twitter: @ChristineNiles1