January 21, 2018


JANUARY 20, 2018

On January 11, 2018 our St. Philip School building experienced a fire. The damage was contained to the Kaleidoscope area which connects the main school corridor to the Molloy Center and to Marion Hall. The fire damaged several classrooms and the roof. The entire facility has experienced smoke and soot damage and needs to be professionally cleaned.

Our school building, the Molloy Center, the auditorium, the gym, and Marion Hall have all been compromised by the fire due to smoke damage. Therefore, no one may enter these buildings according to law. In other words, the meeting of parish organizations, parish groups, and sports teams will not be able take place on the parish property until further notice. This also means that the school entrance lobby cannot be used as an access route from the St. Philip Drive parking lot.

The professional team of 40 working twelve hour shifts continues to make progress with the cleaning of every item in each room of every building. The plethora of items and equipment that need to be replaced have been ordered.

What we know so far…

• Monday through Friday of next week education will continue online because there is no facility available to receive us at this time, including our own.

• The insurance company has determined that the kaleidoscope wing, which incurred the greatest amount of fire damage, is unsalvageable and, therefore, will be demolished. The demolition will begin once the necessary permits and approvals have been obtained. Plans are in the making to rebuild those classrooms.

• Restoration of the rest of the building which was damaged by soot and smoke is on-going. The middle school (grades 4-8) and the pre-K wings are the least effected and being readied for use.

• The main corridor of the school and the attached classrooms (grades 1, 2, 3) require more intensive restoration and are the epicenter of activity.

This situation is as frustrating and as exasperating for you as it is for us.
There are so many variables beyond our control. The codes, laws, and safety measures that must be in place concerning the space where children are educated are good for the protection of our children, but are many and limit possibilities.
Know this; your questions are our questions. Where and when will in-classroom teaching commence? As soon as we know you will know. Work is being done around the clock to find these answers.
As soon as we have an approved plan we will communicate it to you immediately. What we continue to learn is the difference prayer can make in every situation: for wisdom, for strength and for endurance.

In the mist of the hardship involved with the situation we hopefully are making time to pray, “OK, God what is the good news?” Good news is found in gratitude for the blessing of safety because the fire occurred at 1:45 AM and the blessing of resources, talent and dedication tirelessly being given to continue our mission which is Christ’s work.

To the tune of “Let There be Peace on Earth”

Time to be good news on earth and let it begin with me.
Time to be good news on earth the truth that was meant to be.
With Keys to the Kingdom, prayer will set us free;
Let us walk with each other Christ’s love our destiny.

Our world is filled with strife our mission is clear to see.
The golden rule is ours, we stand for equality.
With Christ as our teacher, we are family;
As stewards we serve one another with justice through ministry.

Time to be good news on earth, let this be the moment now.
Let love begin with me, let this be my solemn vow:
To take each moment and live each moment as good news for others to see.

Let there be good news on earth and let it begin with me/let it begin with me.

A fire broke out in the early morning hours of Jan. 11 above a ceiling in one of the classroom hallways at St. Philip the Apostle Preparatory School necessitating the closing of the school building for the foreseeable future for remediation and repairs.

The school’s faculty has collaborated with the Diocesan Schools Office staff to develop a technological education plan for home use by students until they can return to classes.

Because the school building, the Molloy Center, the auditorium, the gym, and Marion Hall all suffered smoke damage, all meetings of parish organizations, parish groups and scheduled games for sports teams cannot take place on the parish property until further notice.

Bishop Serratelli said, “This was a terrible tragedy that, thankfully, did not result in the loss of life or even injuries. As the recovery continues, I know that diocesan offices and other parishes will do everything possible to support the St. Philip’s school community.”

When the Clifton Fire Department responded to a smoke alarm at the school’s Valley Road campus at about 1:45 a.m., Jan. 11, they quickly found that the fire had originated above the ceiling in a hallway. The firemen contained the fire to the Kaleidoscope area that connects to the main school corridor to the Molloy Center and to Marion Hall. The fire damaged several classrooms and the roof in that area because firefighters had to ventilate the fire through the roof.

“We are thankful to the Lord that classes were not in session when the fire began, said Mary D. Baier, Diocesan Superintendent of Schools. “We are most grateful to the Clifton Fire Department for their efforts in containing the fire in such a quick and efficient manner.”

Immediately after the fire, the Diocese of Paterson’s Office of Building and Facilities under the direction of Dennis Rodano, and its Risk Management Office, under the direction of Richard Ziccardi, were on the scene in conjunction with insurance companies, and local and state government officials to take the steps that are required to remediate and to restore the building to full functionality. “A professional team of 40 has been working for 12 hours a day for the last 72 hours around the clock and will continue to do so,” said Father Joseph Garbarino, St. Philip’s pastor, in a letter to the school and parish community on Jan. 15. “The Diocese of Paterson, the insurance companies, and local and state government officials are working in conjunction for the most expedient way to have us operational as soon as possible,” the pastor wrote.

Msgr. James Mahoney, Vicar General, observed “I am pleased, but not surprised, at the way that so many people are working together to help St. Philip’s recover from this fire. The diocesan staff has been working tirelessly in support of the recovery operation. Parishes and other groups are willing to help. At times like this, we are clearly a family.”

As to when St. Philip Preparatory School will be re-opened for students to return to the building, Father Garbarino wrote in a letter, “We all would like to have answers to all questions right now, however this restoration and planning takes time. We understand the inconvenience and hardship involved. Please know that we are working diligently. We rely on our community praying with us for wisdom, strength and patience as we trust in God’s Providence.” He added that, “There are several options under study for the most immediate return to education in a classroom setting. As soon as an official and an approved plan is accepted, parents will be notified immediately. This applies to our parish’s religious education classes as well. Know this, in our 75-year history and as we celebrate this Jubilee Year, these challenges are a perfect opportunity for us to demonstrate our faith in action as we continue to do Christ’s work with hope and love,” Father Garbarino wrote.

St. Philip the Apostle Preparatory School, founded in 1954, is a U.S. Department of Education National Blue Ribbon Award School with Advanced Reaccreditation. It offers programs for the academically gifted, music and band, sports, fine and performing arts, and has a leading-edge technology program. Its enrollment currently stands at more than 450 students in grades pre-kindergarten through 8.

17110610 Xmas Ornament COLOR - Jubilee

The Year of our Lord 2018 is our parish Jubilee commemorating 75 years of fulfilling our mission of Opus Christi –which is Latin for Christ’s Work. During the decades our parish has been love in action, bringing good news through spiritual, service and social ministry.

Jesus said to our parish patron St. Philip, “Whoever believes in me will do the works I do and even great works.” John 14:22

Share your e-mail with us so as not to miss any of the good news. Visit stphilip.org/jubilee to be included in our email list. Like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/stphilipclifton.

Our Jubilee Prayer
Rejoicing in you, O Lord, with thankful hearts we pray as . . .
We Remember
gratefully our past companions on the Journey whose
sacrifice inspires us.
We Celebrate
the good news of love in action that empowers spiritual,
service and social ministry.
We Believe
in God’s providence as faithful stewards who continue
Christ’s work using the Keys to the Kingdom.





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