Edmonton Native Church held final mass in school gymnasium ahead of Pope’s visit to newly restored building after fire – Edmonton
For the past two years, parishioners from the First Peoples Church of the Sacred Heart of Edmonton have celebrated in the gymnasium of a school across the street.
A 2020 fire caused by the remains of a smudging ceremony closed the more than 100-year-old building for restoration.
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But with renovations expected to be done by next week ahead of Pope Francis’ visit to the Church on July 15, this is the last Sunday mass held in his gymnasium.
« Everyone is excited, we can move into our church again…the fire has done quite a bit of damage, » said parishioner Kevin Morin.
« Next week we return on pilgrimage to a beautiful church recently renovated after the fire, to find our home in the Sacred Heart, » said parishioner Mary Claire Stack.
Although the parishioners are eager to move, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Work was originally scheduled to be completed in the fall, but news of the Pope’s visit forced that delay to July 17, a week before the papal visit to the Edmonton church.
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“To get ahead in this 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 do painting, flooring when other trades are not there, so yes, it is difficult,” said Ron Martineau, financial secretary for the Church of the Sacred Heart of First Peoples.
« The construction will not be one hundred percent complete by the Pope’s visit, but it will be complete enough to receive him upstairs and our guests there, » said the associate pastor of the Church of the Sacred Heart. of First Peoples, Mark Blom.
“There are things that are not needed, for example the kitchen downstairs won’t work, we don’t need it, we can run the church without it. The heating system will not be in operation, but I mean it will be the end of July, so hopefully we don’t need the heating,” Martineau said.
Father Mark Blom said that by next week 95% of the project should be complete.
A worthwhile labor of love for its members who were waiting to meet the Pope in person. And who want to heal, reconcile and overcome the pain caused by the role of Catholic churches in residential schools.
“It is so beautiful that it is happening. It is a great blessing for reconciliation and forgiveness,” parishioner Theresa Yetsallie said.