where a fire was intentionally set Tuesday evening spoke to his flock Wednesday.The leader of a Spring Valley church
In an email to members of Santa Sophia Catholic Church Wednesday afternoon, Father Jacob Bertand asked people to "say some prayers for justice as it is needed as well as mercy upon the poor soul or souls who did this damage."
The fire was started in the sanctuary, Bertand said. Firefighters from the Cal Fire/San Miguel Fire District were able to knock down the fire that was reported shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday in 10 minutes.
"Structurally the church will be fine, including the crucifix. There will be tough damages to repair but not insurmountable. The police are investigating, our insurance company is evaluating the damages and a professional clean-up team has started work to restore our sanctuary. During this process the church needs to be locked down–completely–even to employees," he said.
The church "will not be serviceable for at least the next few weeks," Bertand said.
Mass will be celebrated in a building separate from the church sanctuary.
Classes at the church's preschool and Santa Sophia Academy, a school for students ranging from kindergarten through 8th grade, will continue with no change in schedule.
"God bless you all! It is with thanksgiving we acknowledge God's goodness in that the fire was discovered early and we have very manageable repairs," he said.