For­mer parish­ioners fear for sa­cred ground’s fu­ture

St. Anne’s in Spa­niard’s Bay listed for sale on real es­tate mar­ket

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/TC ME­DIA

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.

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/TC ME­DIA

For­mer parish­ioners at St. Anne’s Ro­man Catholic Church were not happy to find the prop­erty listed last week on the real es­tate mar­ket.

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