Former parishioners fear for sacred ground’s future
St. Anne’s in Spaniard’s Bay listed for sale on real estate market
There’s a battle brewing over the future of a cemetery surrounding the site of a deconsecrated church in Spaniard’s Bay.
In 2014, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Falls endorsed a recommendation from Immaculate Conception Parish to close St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church in Spaniard’s Bay and Immaculate Conception Church in Harbour Grace. Now, the former church in Spaniard’s Bay is on the market.
As of Friday, there was an unconfirmed reported that an agreement had been reached with a purchaser.
“They’re not only selling our church, they’re selling our graves,” said Theresa Greeley, one of the former parishioners at St. Anne’s who now attends services at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Riverhead, Harbour Grace. She learned about plans to sell the church last Tuesday, having previously been under the impression the parish was only looking to sell the physical structure to have it removed.
Located behind the church building are dozens of burial plots. Greeley has been told those graves will be fenced off, with a new path providing public access.
However, she feels this proposal isn’t good enough, given there are many unmarked graves on both sides of the building and at the front entrance to the church. There are also graves under the church, according to Greeley.
“We tried to put an eight-foot basement in and we couldn’t, because when we started digging, we started getting into graves, so they had to bury it back up again,” she said.
“It’s consecrated grounds,” added Philomena Mercer, another former parishioner at St. Anne’s who has family members buried by the church. She served on the committee that oversaw construction of the church, which was built in 1973.
Greeley ultimately feels the move to sell the church is a classless act. She would ultimately prefer to see the building sold and moved, with the land left alone entirely.
“There’s no respect for the dead,” she said. “They’ve got a dollar sign put on our loved ones.”
A Facebook group called “Save St. Anne’s Church” was set up last week, and a petition is online at ipetitions.com.
The Compass failed to reach the chairman for the local parish council prior to its print deadline. Visit www.cbncompass.ca for further updates on this story.
Weblink: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save- stannes-church-spaniards-bay
Among those upset about the potential sale of the former St. Anne’s Church are, from the left, Nick Coombs (who helped build the church in 1973), Theresa Greeley and Philomena Mercer.
Former parishioners at St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church were not happy to find the property listed last week on the real estate market.