St. Alphonsus Church for sale
Local society putting in an offer
St. Alphonsus Church is for sale and a group that wants to save and restore the building plans to make an offer.
The historic church in Victoria Mines was officially closed by the Diocese of Antigonish last year and had been marked for demolition. But that was put on hold by the diocese, pending a proposal from the Stone Church Restoration Society, which wanted to save the building from demolition.
Rev. Donald MacGillivray, spokesman with the Diocese of Antigonish, said the diocese has been in conversation with the society but with no business plan forthcoming from them, the diocese decided the time had come to put the church up for sale.
“We have to move along,” he said. “We know as a diocese that churches hold a lot of emotional stuff for people and we’re just trying to do our best to manage our properties given the circumstances we’re in, where there’s a need to close churches because we just don’t have the wherewithal to be able to support all these buildings.”
MacGillivray said selling St. Alphonsus will proceed like every other church sale the diocese has undertaken in recent years. He said the Stone Church Restoration Society is welcome to submit an offer.
“They’re welcome to put in a bid and it will be judged accordingly,” he said. “Just like everything it’s not always just the individual or group that offers the most money necessarily — that is a factor but it’s not the only factor.”
Melanie Sampson, a spokeswoman with the Stone Church Restoration Society, said the diocese contacted them earlier this week to inform them the church was going up for sale, with an asking price of $49,900.
“We’re putting in an offer hopefully by the end of the business day today,” she said Thursday morning. “For us, time is of the essence and feel we should put in the offer as soon as possible.”
To date, the society has raised $ 10,000 and this week they’ve put a real push on for donations to go toward the purchase of the church. Sampson said they’ve also had a lot of support from several municipal, provincial and national heritage organizations and are hoping they may be able to secure some funding and assistance from them.
Sampson said people can donate a variety of ways, including by cash, cheque, PayPal, and at the society’s online funding page, www. gofundme.com/cbstonechurch.
“If in the event that for some reason we’re not successful, all funds will be returned,” she said.
The society is hoping to purchase the former church to turn the building into a wedding chapel and tourist attraction.
“It can be saved,” said Sampson. “It’s going to marking its 100th anniversary next year and we’re hoping that it’ll still be standing because if someone else potentially buys the property we can’t assure that it won’t be torn down.”
CAPE BRETON POST
St. Alphonsus Church in Victoria Mines, seen in this file photo, is being sold by the Diocese of Antigoish.