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Saving Sacred Heart


SYDNEY — An association which has been working behind the scenes to plan for the future of Sacred Heart Church is now reaching out to the public to help them in their efforts.

Jane MacNeil, a member of the Friends of Sacred Heart Church association, visited the historic Sydney church this week. The association is hosting a public meeting Sept. 24 to discuss the future of the church.

The organization, now incorporated as Friends of Sacred Heart Church, is planning a public meeting for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the church, as part of its ongoing efforts to save the Sydney landmark.

"We're really hoping people come out and show us some support and share their ideas," said association treasurer Jane MacNeil. "The hope of the committee is to sustain and maintain the church in its present state, as it is today, or make it better than what it is today. We want to be able to use it for meetings, events, concerts, different things."

MacNeil said as they work to find ways to keep the church vibrant, they want the wider community involved.

"Our committee can do only so much, so we need to reach out to everybody else to give us a hand," she said, noting they're hoping for ideas, support and new members to help out as they move forward.

The Diocese of Antigonish officially closed the historic Catholic church, located in Sydney's north end, earlier this year. The final mass was celebrated June 22. In the months since, the Friends of Sacred Heart Church association has been in an ongoing negotiating process with the diocese to lease the building. There's no lease agreement currently in place, but the diocese is allowing the association to use the church as negotiations continue.

"We have a good working relationship with (the diocese), which we're very grateful for," she said. "Hopefully at some point we'll get a lease."

Since the church's closure in June, the association has continued to welcome thousands of cruise ship passengers, who visit the church while touring the north end.

"We've been very busy with the cruise ships," said MacNeil, one of several volunteer tour guides. "A lot of (the visitors) love the beauty of the church itself, and they sit and reflect and some light candles, and they enjoy the stained glass and the paintings and the architecture. And I think they're amazed, with how old the church is, what good shape it's in."

Founded in 1825, the Sacred Heart parish has a long and storied history in the community and MacNeil said they are committed to maintaining the sacredness of the church in the future.

"Even though it's been decommissioned, it'll always be considered to anyone who has gone in there as a sacred space and you have to keep that respect in place," she said.

Friends of Sacred Heart Church has a Facebook page, and anyone looking for more information can also send an email to friendsofsacredheartchurch@gmail.com.

 

 

ljgrant@cbpost.com

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