For the past two years, parishioners at Edmonton’s Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples have been worshiping in a school gym across the street.
A 2020 fire caused by remains of an incense ceremony closed the more than hundred-year-old building for its restoration.
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But with the renos due to be ready by next week before Pope Francis’ July 15 visit to the church, this will be the last Sunday mass to be held at his gymnasium.
“Everyone is excited we can move back into our church… the fire has done quite a bit of damage,” parishioner Kevin Morin said.
“Next week, following the fire, we will make a pilgrimage back to a beautiful, newly renovated church to find our home again in the Sacred Heart,” said Parishioner Mary Claire Stack.
While parishioners look forward to the move, there is still work to be done.
Work was originally scheduled to be completed in the fall, but the announcement of the pope’s visit forced that schedule to July 17 — a week before the papal visit to the Edmonton church.
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“To get up that schedule, people had to work ten hours a day almost seven days a week. There were even people who worked here on Sundays trying to paint and finish floors when other trades aren’t here, so yeah it’s difficult,” said Ron Martineau, finance secretary of Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples.
“Construction will not be 100 percent complete by the time the Pope visits, but will be sufficiently complete to receive him upstairs and our guests there,” said Mark Blom, associate pastor of Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples .
“There are things that are not needed, for example the kitchen downstairs will not be in operation, we don’t need that, we can run the church without that. The heating system won’t come on but I mean it will be at the end of July so hopefully we don’t need heat,” Martineau said.
Father Mark Blom said 95 percent of the project should be complete by next week.
A labor of love worthy of its members who have been waiting to meet the Pope in person. And who want to heal, reconcile and overcome the pain caused by the role of the Catholic Church in boarding schools.
“It’s so nice that he’s coming. It is a great blessing for reconciliation and forgiveness,” said parishioner Theresa Yetsallie.
https://globalnews.ca/news/8980091/edmonton-indigenous-church-popes-visit-newly-restored-building-fire/ The Edmonton Indigenous Church held a final Mass in the school’s gymnasium ahead of the Pope’s visit to the newly restored building after a fire – Edmonton