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Fire destroys cottage at the Church of Our Savior in Rye, NY

BOSTON – Fire almost destroyed the house at the parish of Our Savior in Rye New York which was the residence of the church’s sexton and his mother, who were unharmed. They lost all their belongings, however, and are now staying in a hotel near the church. 

In a telephone interview with The National Herald Fr. Elias Villis, the parish’s presiding priest said, “it is our cottage house where the sexton lives, it is the building overlooking our parking lot and adjacent to Marros Hall. The fire caused extensive damage to the building … the blaze was extinguished by the Harrison Fire Department.”

He also said by “thank God, Wilfredo, our church caretaker, and his mother were unharmed, however, many if not all, of their belongings were destroyed as best as we can ascertain at this time. We will investigate the cause of the fire.”

Fr. Elias said that “Wilfredo and his mother are fine and staying at a local hotel until we can find temporary housing for them. The Parish Council, along with our staff and I, are working through this very difficult process with our insurance company. Once the phase with our insurance has been completed, we will implement a plan to reconstruct the cottage house and welcome Wilfredo and his mother back to their home.”

Fr. Elias explained that “as with every insurance, experience, there always a battle – debates and all that – so we have to go through the process now. On Monday the adjusters are coming to review everything and hopefully they will be able to help us out.” He couldn’t provide an estimate for the damage. He said, “I have no idea but it is uninhabitable; you can’t live in it.”  

Regarding the nave and the community center Fr. Elias said “everything is fine; it was only the house of the sexton.”

The parish of Our Savior is one of the most well organized and prestigious parishes of the Archdiocese with fine buildings and unique iconography, for which Michael Psaros has contributed $2.25 million. Its presiding priest Protopresbyter Elias Villis is a very successful priest with much pastoral sensitivity, which is manifested in the pastoral care he offers to the faithful entrusted to him.

Asked how the parish is coping with the Coronavirus pandemic, he said “we are doing well; we are up to 25% capacity … the state allows us to have 65 people in church every Sunday. You have to sign up, people are receiving Holy Communion, they are coming to worship, and everybody is rotating … doing what we can do. God will help us.”

Regarding Holy Communion Fr. Elias said, “I use multiple spoons here.” When asked how the congregation received the practice of multiple spoons, he said “some families don’t want to receive Communion with multiple spoons, but many of the people are good with it, actually they are very pleased. I don’t use multiple spoons because I believe it can transmit the disease, I do it because we have hundreds of people who are scared; we have to hear their voice too. As our Archbishop said we do it out of love.


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