Palisades Park priest dies a week after suffering burns in rectory fire

| March 18, 2012

The Rev. James F. Reilly died early Saturday, a week after he suffered severe burns in a fire at the St. Michael's Church rectory, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark said. He was 69.

Reilly, a popular figure at the Palisades Park church, was found in a bathroom in the early morning of March 10 by firefighters responding to the blaze. Two adjunct priests – one of whom heard the fire alarm go off and tried unsuccessfully to reach Reilly – escaped unharmed.

An investigation by the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office has determined that the fire started on a couch in Reilly's room, where the pastor was sleeping. Police said Reilly was a smoker and that the other priests said it was common for him to fall asleep on the couch.

Jim Goodness, spokesman for the Newark Archdiocese, said details on services were not yet available. He said worshipers attending Saturday Mass in Palisades Park would be informed of Reilly's death.

 

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