The arrest of a 43-year-old suspect who allegedly set a fire inside a Weston church on Easter Sunday is a “big sigh of relief” for the church community.

The man was arrested on Monday by Ontario Provincial Police near Huntsville, Ont. at around 2:30 p.m., which Father Andrew Maderak says is a “big sigh of relief for everyone.”

“I am relieved,” Father Maderak said. “I am relieved because last night I was thinking what if he comes back again for the church or the house? You just don’t know what’s in someone’s mind. I’m definitely going to be sleeping a lot better tonight knowing that (a suspect) has been apprehended and police can deal with him and keep the community safe.”

Fire started after 'flammable device' thrown through a church window, police say

His arrest comes after a small fire broke out at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church near Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue on Sunday, halting the Easter service.

According to police, the suspect threw a “flammable device” through a window of the church at around 7:30 a.m.

No one was inside the building when the fire was started, and the flames didn’t last long.

Investigators say the fire extinguished itself before it was discovered by a church-goer. 

A student volunteer, who arrived to open the church later that morning, found smoke in the building, Father Maderak told CP24. 

“I thought, okay, maybe there’s a little bit of smoke,” he explained. “I said to open the windows, but when I came in, you could probably not see 10-feet in front of you … opening the windows was the wrong thing to do.”

The fire charred an interior window and floor, and coated pews and books in soot, forcing the parish to cancel its two Easter Sunday masses.

Although the fire was contained to a small area of the church, it resulted in approximately $5,000 worth of damages, investigators added. 

“At first, it didn’t look like there was much damage but it’s quite evident that there is,” Father Maderak said. “All the books have to be removed, cleaned, any of the linens need to be removed off site.”

Father Maderak said scaffolding will be erected inside the church sometime this week so clean-up crews can reach the ceiling and pillars.

He hopes the church will reopen for mass on Saturday evening.

'When this kind of thing happens, it cuts to the heart of a community'

One of several security cameras on the premises – installed by Father Maderak after a spate of minor vandalism incidents – aided police in making an arrest. 

Marc Porlier is charged with arson and mischief over $5,000 in connection to the incident. 

He is expected to appear in a Toronto court on Tuesday. 

Father Maderak, who has presided over the church for the last two and a half years, believes Porlier was a former parishioner of the church.

Mayor John Tory visited the church on Monday afternoon to discuss the incident with Father Maderak parishioners.

"When this kind of thing happens, it cuts to the heart of a community that has been a wonderful, contributing community in our city for decades," Tory said.

"I think it must have been a divine hand that looked down on this church because you can see how easily the whole church, the wooden part of the structure, could have erupted in flames if it had been any different but fortunately that didn’t happen."

Fire crews have yet to determine exactly what kind of device was used to spark the fire.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call police at 416-808-1200 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-8477.