St. Patrick’s Church parishioners hope ‘God will intervene’ to stop their home from being sold

St. Patrick’s Church is located on Patrick Street in St. John’s. Its cornerstone was laid on September 17, 1855, and it was completed in 1881. The church property was sold as part of an asset liquidation by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s. (Curtis Hicks/CBC)

Wednesday Mass at St. Patrick’s Church on the west end of St. John’s stirred feelings of unity and uncertainty, as his congregation braced for news about the future of their building.

Members of St Patrick’s Church learned earlier this week that a bid from an unknown buyer to buy the church had been approved by Ernst & Young, the company overseeing the court-ordered sale of the church properties belonging to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s.

Leona Dooley, who attends mass as often as she can, said she was heartbroken by news of a sale.

“This is as much my home as my home, and these people are as close to me as blood family,” Dooley said.

“We come here and pray together, and it’s been devastating for us to know that the church might be closing.”

Dooley said St. Patrick’s was his “spiritual home” and that the congregation and Father James Fleming played a key role in his life, especially after his father’s death.

“I can’t believe how much this has helped me not only spiritually but also with my mental health. I’ve made friends here,” she said.

Three women stand side by side in a church in St. John's.  a large statue of a man with a ctoss stands behind them.
From left to right, Mary Ring, Leona Dooley and Michelle Martin have been with St. Patrick’s Church for many years. They say they are devastated by the news of the church’s potential sale. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

The church, completed in 1881, is all parishioner Mary Ring has ever known. She was born in the church 84 years ago.

“There is something that is going to be missing in my life. I was born in this church, this parish,” Ring said. “If our church closes, and I still hope it doesn’t…I’ll do God’s will and go to another parish.”

“This church is a refuge”

Michelle Martin, who married at St. Patrick’s, values ​​the building as one of the few churches that keeps its doors open for prayer seven days a week.

“This church is a refuge,” Martin said. “This is where anyone who wants to pray knows you can come and have some quiet time, be with Jesus and the Blessed Sacrament and pray.”

Martin, who lives in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, led an effort to save Holy Rosary Church in that community. But St. Patrick’s parishioners were unable to put forward an offer to buy out their church, leaving her to wonder what will become of the building.

St. Patrick’s Church parishioners gather for Wednesday morning mass. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

“These are the houses of God, and you don’t know what they’re going to be used for,” she said.

“This church here is historic. Like the Basilica [of St. John the Baptist]we kind of hope that God will intervene and it will be saved.”

Dooley said she and others in the congregation would keep the faith if their church closed, but she wishes the archdiocesan action had come sooner so congregations didn’t put their churches at risk. today.

“All I ask is that people respect how we feel. That’s where we come to pray and gather. Knowing that you’re going to drive by and some of these places will be gone, that’s heartbreaking.”

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Martha J. Finley