St. Dominic’s final mass
TINY PARISH whose church never got built will gather for one last time this month
St. Dominic’s parish in Montreal never had a church building to call its own, but a handful of worshippers bound by a deep connection didn’t let that bother them.
For almost a century, parishioners worshipped in the basement of a church that was never completed at the corner of de Lorimier Ave. and Gilford St .
The parish was founded in 1912 for English-speaking Catholics in the Plateau, and in spite of great plans, it never managed to raise enough money to complete construction.
After the building’s presbytery and basement was sold to the city in 1975, the site was turned into a community garden. The parishioners moved into a storefront building on Mount Royal Ave., where they remained until 1990. Since then, they’ve been sharing space with St. Casimir’s Church on Parthenais St.
On Sept. 21, the remaining members of St. Dominic’s parish will gather for a final mass at 2 p.m.
“Memories just flood back, said Edna-May MacKenzie, who was one of the first altar girls in the parish. “My three brothers were all altar boys, my brother Gerald led the folk mass. I don’t think they had altar girls in other parishes, but Father Peter McGlynn was a great leader, he got the girls in and put them on the altar.”
Edith Sévigny married in the parish in 1949, and has served as a warden off and on for 30 years. She finds it hard to have to say goodbye.
“In 1975, when we left the basement church, we had 900 people. Now we’re down to about a dozen,” she said. “But someday people in the area will want to come back to church, and there is not going to be a church for them to go to.”
Patrick Lambert, who was an altar boy at St. Dominic’s, says he’s saddened to see the end of an era.
“As a parish we were something to behold,” he said. “In my time in the ’40s, we were a multi-lingual parish – Polish, Irish, Ukrainians, Italians and French, people with all kinds of foreign names came to mass. It’s sad to know there’s no longer anyone around to carry on.”
The parish still has a bowling league, one of the oldest in the province, and hopes to keep it going.
Parishioners also want the city to change the name of de Lormier Gardens, where the church was supposed to be built, to St. Dominic’s Gardens.
“We’d like to see a plaque, or have some kind of historical recognition,” MacKenzie said. “We want future generations to know that there was an Irish- Scots Catholic parish in the Plateau, so at least something remains behind.”
Twenty five years ago, there were 256 parishes in the archdiocese, 39 of them operating in English. With the closing of St. Dominic’s, 233 parishes remain, 27 of them for Englishspeaking congregations.