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Block of ice from passing aircraft smashes through cathedral roof during Mass

By on Thursday, 12 July 2012

Brentwood Cathedral, dedicated in 1991 (Photo: Dr Simon Johnson)

Brentwood Cathedral, dedicated in 1991 (Photo: Dr Simon Johnson)

Worshippers attending Mass at Brentwood Cathedral in Essex had a rude experience when a large block of ice fell through the roof during the Eucharistic Prayer.

Fr James Mackay told BBC Essex: “Last Sunday just gone, I was celebrating Mass and halfway through there was a massive explosion to the west side of the cathedral. Everything was stopped as we heard this. I turned to my left to see lots of slate and white stuff falling from the roof. After a couple of seconds of shocked pause, I said: ‘Right, let’s crack on.’ And we did.”

Fr Mackay said: “It became clear later on that it was actually a block of frozen refuse that dropped from an aeroplane. We could see the damage – it fell straight through the slate… It was a bit of an adventure.”

The hole in the roof was repaired the following day.

Such incidents are rare because airplanes are not supposed to dump their waste mid-flight.

It is not the first time frozen waste has smashed into a place of worship. A block of ice from an aircraft damaged Essex Church, a Unitarian chapel in west London, in 1971.

  • nytor

    I hope they can track which flight it would have been and get the airline to pay for it. I like Brentwood’s new cathedral, the architecture is nice and I hope it wasn’t spoilt.

  • Etoc2001

    I would call it a sign to hurry up and sort out the problems at St Augustines [Barkingside]. Isn’t that where Bishop McMahon was when this happened?

  • nytor

    What problems? Do elaborate.

  • South Saxon

    If the “clapping Gloria” or a Kendrick or Farrell hymn was being sung at the time, I am sure it was a sign of disapproval…

  • Parasum

    What are the odds LOL ? (It’s very hard to find this unfunny)

    This is probably *not* covered by the list of contingencies in the pre-conciliar Missal that amount to defects in the offering of Mass.

  • Dcn John Saturus

    They missed a headline opportunity : Cathedral Hit by Icy BM

  • Claudia

    That’s a cathedral?!

  • Acleron

    Wasn’t it an act of god then?

  • Cjkeeffe

    Will there be an insurence pay out or would teh insurers claim Act of God!

  • Etoc2001

    Here’s the comment on it from today’s Guardian

    Much chatter in Catholic circles, meanwhile, about the events in Shrewsbury, where the bishop dispensed with the services of troublesome trustees in the diocese, replacing them with a more agreeable priests. This is not how we conduct our affairs, say critics. But hush, say observers from east London. This sort of thing has happened before. They point to St Augustine of Canterbury in Barkingside, where Father Paul Bruxby asked the directors of the social club to vote in favour of closure, citing money troubles and matters of health and safety. They declined to make a speedy decision. Five received letters telling them that they had “time-expired”. They were replaced by four agreeable priests. The social club closed. That was all in 2008, but grievances endure. And it is noted that more recently, as Thomas McMahon, the bishop of Brentwood was making his pastoral visit to St Augustine’s and praising Fr Bruxby, a chunk of ice fell from a plane and damaged the roof of Brentwood Cathedral. Signs and wonders, as they say.

  • South Saxon

    Brentwood Cathedral is more beautiful than a number of others in England I could name. Please look at:

  • Lewispbuckingham

     Not sure where you are going here Et. If the place was going broke and could not be brought up to OH@S standards and had no fire escape sprinklers or alarms would it not be better to close it?

  • Etoc2001

    Only the priest belived the place was going broke – it was certified safe and making money. Indeed if there had been a case for closing it the dissent would not still be going on four years later.  The Parish Hall was built by us and we gave a healthy donation to the parish most years. Bruxby shut it because he could and he did so in a most unpriestly manner [that is unpriestly as in what priests should be like - not as in what some of them do get up to] 

  • joshua012

    Which airline was responsible?

    I’d like to make sure I don’t fly with them.

    If as the article suggests, they are not supposed to dump waste mid-flight who knows what other rules this particular airline is flouting?

  • Denis

    Not so sure. I think it looks like a branch of B and Q. The “original” Cathedral of The Sacred Heart and St Helens. (of course Sacred Heart was so passe as to be dumped)  was actually quite lovely.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal



  • Etoc2001

    Ooh – shouty priest. Like that’s a novelty. I always thought that Priests should try to live their lives in a better way than most of us – less swearing, less lying, less venal or greedy – you know, being a good example. This double edged sword reminds me of Jonathan Aitkin with his Sword of Truth..

  • Larry Crumbley

    Thank God none of us at St Augustines have a pilot’s licence or we’d get the blame for this as well

  • teigitur

    Its quite awful.

  • South Saxon

    I am sorry to disagree but I find it dignified and to have pleasing proportions. By contrast, I find Clifton, Liverpool and, particularly, Middlesbrough to be frightful.

  • Lewispbuckingham

     Not that you are looking for unsolicited advice. If this dispute is still going on after so long and even reaching the national press there must be a lot of issues.
    It may be possible to go through some sort of mediation so that everyone may move on.

  • teigitur

    Yes indeed the others are awful too. Its many years since I was there, perhaps it has improved.

  • Etoc2001

    Always ready to listen to advice, the only problem is that the Bishop doesn’t want to talk to us at all. We have been trying to meet him for four years now without success. The previous Apostolic Nuncio met with some of us and told us that the Bishop had a duty to meet us but he couldn’t force him. The Parish Hall would only be one item on the agenda – there are also questions of pastoral care and financial transparency.

  • Etoc2001

    Can I also say that this is the first time that I have heard ‘Lay people’ used in such an insulting way

  • Lewispbuckingham

     Thanks Et.Apart from talking to the present Nuncio there is not much to do.It has been known that aggrieved people seek out the advice and ear of some professional, in any area of competence, that is Catholic and part of the parish and general community.
     When this happens it will not resolve the original problems of themselves, but will likely help prevent the same ones in the future.
     In the meanwhile, when I am presented with something intractable, I pray for providential help and seek to change what is in my power to change, and leave the rest to others.

  • Sdlukac

    I bet it was a NO service!

  • hongshaoyu

  • Etoc2001

    The same would apply if the ice had impacted on St Augustines while the Bishop was present – they’d be roulding up the usual suspects…

  • WBC

     Quite right – or one of those dreadful “signs of peace” with musical accompaniment  that go on forever and detract from the fraction of the Host and the Agnus Dei.  One wonders if there are any Catholics left that understand what a Mass is or what is going on during the Consecration.

  • Catholic Youth Work

    Just been reading through the comments. I just love how far they have drifted from the actual story!!

  • Matt

    Block of Ice its obviously Arthur Crumly having a rant in heaven to God about the state of Brentwood Diocese’ former attitude to the Old Mass. Didnt take him long to sent venom from the heavens

  • Poo poo

    how could it be ice. maybe it was poo from the toilets. when it comes from those altitudes it will be frozen. frozen poo more like it

  • Matthew Roth

    If the interior design was shifted i.e. a proper high altar installed, and other items moved, one would have no problems. There at least is the intent of something dignified. 

    Liverpool Cathedral on the other hand-I’m not so sure.