Hun­dreds show up for fi­nal ser­vice at Har­bour Grace church

The Compass - - SALTWIRE WHEELS - BY CHRIS LEWIS [email protected]­n­com­pass.ca

Hun­dreds gath­ered in Har­bour Grace this past week­end for the last chance to wor­ship at the Cathe­dral of the Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion.

On Sun­day af­ter­noon, Nov. 4, ve­hi­cles filled the streets as cit­i­zens from the town and the re­gion came for the last ser­vice in­side the Catholic church.

In Oc­to­ber it was an­nounced the cathe­dral, which has stood in Har­bour Grace for hun­dreds of years, had been pur­chased by Craig Flynn and Brenda O’Reilly – own­ers of Yel­low­belly Brew­ery and O’Reilly’s Irish Pub in St. John’s – to be used as a ho­tel, spa and brew­ery.

The cathe­dral has been va­cant for a num­ber of years. Sun­day af­ter­noon was a last chance for peo­ple to gather there to hear the story of the cathe­dral, en­joy some mu­si­cal per­for­mances and sim­ply ap­pre­ci­ate the build­ing for what it is, was and will be.

Bishop An­thony Daniels noted in the Sun­day ser­vice the de­ci­sion to sell the church was not a pop­u­lar one among paris­hon­ers.

“It was not a rec­om­men­da­tion they (church) wanted to make, but it was one they felt they needed to make,” he said. “So we come to a time when . . . as lov­ing par­ents, we’re hand­ing off to new par­ents this pre­cious build­ing.

“In do­ing so, we’ve come to know Craig and Brenda, and their love for this build­ing, as well as their com­mit­ment to trea­sure it, re­store it and to give it a new life.”

Daniels added it was the help of many peo­ple who vol­un­teered with the church’s restora­tion com­mit­tee that kept the build­ing go­ing for so many years.

He said with­out those ef­forts, a de­ci­sion such as this would have been made long be­fore now.

Don Reg­u­lar, a res­i­dent of Har­bour Grace, said the next step for the build­ing was a great op­por­tu­nity for the town and, if done cor­rectly, could mean a new chap­ter for the town.

“It’s a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity for the peo­ple in the com­mu­nity, and the com­mu­nity it­self. It’s good to see peo­ple com­ing into Har­bour Grace who want to make some­thing of this build­ing,” he said. “The op­por­tu­ni­ties for a build­ing like this are kind of lim­ited, but when you have in­di­vid­u­als who want to come in and de­velop it, then that’s great; (a) great day for the town of Har­bour Grace.”

Reg­u­lar added he be­lieves this could be a turn­ing point for the town.

“It de­pends on how the devel­op­ment goes, and the re­cep­tion from the pub­lic – not only here in Har­bour Grace, but peo­ple who come and visit from in the province, or even out­side the coun­try. The chance is there for this to be­come some­thing very worth­while, as long as it’s de­vel­oped well.”

While there were plenty of smil­ing faces in the cathe­dral Sun­day af­ter­noon, some of the crowd ad­mit­ted to hav­ing mixed feel­ings.

For nu­mer­ous peo­ple from the re­gion the church has been a set­ting for mon­u­men­tal events in their per­sonal lives; wed­dings and chris­ten­ings among them.

An­gela Ham­mond, a res­i­dent of River­head, told The Com­pass al­though she sees great po­ten­tial in what the build­ing will be­come, she knows there are some peo­ple who may not be as ex­cited.

“There are def­i­nitely some mixed feel­ings here,” she said. “But, I do think this could be re­ally good for the town, too. I’d rather see it change and be­come some­thing new in­stead of just be­ing left here and for­got­ten about.”

“I’d rather see it change and be­come some­thing new in­stead of just be­ing left here and for­got­ten about.”

— An­gela Ham­mond

CHRIS LEWIS – THE COM­PASS

The con­gre­ga­tion takes a mo­ment to pray at the Cathe­dral of the Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion in Har­bour Grace on Sun­day, Nov. 4. This is one of the last times a prayer will be heard in­side the cathe­dral’s walls.

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

The Cathe­dral of Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion in Har­bour Grace is set to be re-pur­posed into a ho­tel, brew­ery and spa.

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