Parishioners of two Greater Toronto Area churches destroyed in two separate fires will be finding alternate ways to gather and celebrate this Easter weekend.
Aurora United Church in Aurora, Ont., and St. Elias the Prophet Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brampton, Ont., both suffered devastating losses of the buildings their communities call home.
Not much is left of Aurora United except for a south wall that their senior pastor, Rev. Lorraine Newton-Comar, hopes they can include in a new church when the time comes.
A fire that destroyed the nearly 140-year-old historic church has since been declared an accident.
Officials said the fire was caused by a team of roofers who were working with boiling tar.
The church did not have a sprinkler system.
Similarly, a grand Ukrainian Catholic church in Brampton, Ont., was completely destroyed on April 5, following a two-alarm blaze that quickly ripped through the structure made almost entirely of heavy Douglas fir timbers in western red cedar.
St. Elias the Prophet Church, located on Heritage Road, north of Bovaird Drive West, was completed in 1995 and built on fundraising efforts.
Since the fire, the close-knit congregation has vowed to rebuild the church steeped heavily in the "Ukrainian tradition of wooden architecture," according to the website.
Firefighters had said there was very little they could do to stop the building from burning to the ground, adding that there were no fire hydrants nearby and that high winds hindered the process.
However, despite the losses, there were no injuries at either church.
The Aurora congregation will gather with their sister church in Newmarket for Easter.
"We only know up to Easter Sunday and we’re glad we’ll all be together as a church community in one place and from there on we’re still making our plans," said Newton-Comar.
Newton-Comar said she and her husband received a call from St. Elias’ Father Roman Galadza to commiserate as both church communities lost their homes only weeks before the holiest time in the Christian church.
"We share so much at this time," Galadza said.
Although the St. Elias community has vowed to rebuild, for this Easter they will be celebrating under a tent on the site where their church once stood.
"This is home and there was no question in our minds that we wanted to have the service as usual," Galadza said.
Both parish leaders said that sometimes it takes a crisis to bring people together and this time, they say it's brought out the best in people in their communities.