Parishioners are pitching in to raise funds for Sacre Coeur


Last year, as many as 50 people a week arrived at Sacre Coeur church for a warm meal.

But since the Out of the Cold Program has been running at the church this fall, the number of people participating in the program has nearly doubled to about 80 each week.

If the church hadn’t spent more than $180,000 in the summer rebuilding steps that lead to its front doors, it’s likely the increasing number of people visiting the church hall Monday nights might still be out in the cold.

In addition to serving as a way to access the church, the church’s facilities maintenance worker Daniel Roy said the huge concrete staircase also serves as a ceiling for part of the church’s basement hall. It had been leaking for decades, despite numerous repair efforts.

As the damage caused by the persistent leak continued, he said, something needed to be done or the church would have had to close the basement hall where community programs such as Out of the Cold are held.

“It was becoming a safety issue,” Roy said.

The church reached out to retired architect Ralph Belvedere, who volunteered his time to help the as project manager. Belvedere said past repair efforts poured new concrete stairs atop old ones, “thinking that would stop the leak in the basement.” It didn’t.

The actual repair work cost $180,000, and required the staircase to be rebuilt and waterproofed from the ground up.

“We had to take out three sets of stairs,” Belvedere said.

“It was more expensive than originally anticipated, but we’ve solved the problem for at least until I’m gone.”

And even when that day comes, Belvedere said parish priest Rev. Julien Beaulieu told him: “I’ve got Air Miles to heaven for doing this.”

When the cost of recent work at the church is added to the bill — including demolition of the old church building and creating a parking lot where it had stood — Roy said the church’s debt exceeds $300,000. Parishioners are pitching in to raise funds to help pay off that debt.

Roy said the church is running a lottery, selling tickets at $10 each hoping to reduce the debt load.

“It’s one of the projects that we kicked off to put a dent in the expenses,” Roy said.

He said the lottery is limited to 5,000 tickets, with a top prize of $5,000 and five prizes of $1,000 each.

“The odds are pretty good, and the prizes are excellent.”

Tickets are available at the Hasty Market on East Main Street, the Blue Star restaurant, Hicks Lumber and Plymouth Cordage Retirement Community. Parishioners will be selling lottery tickets at Pupo’s Food Market on Nov. 19, 25, and 26 and on Dec. 2 and 3; and at Seaway Mall’s community booth on Dec. 18 and 19.

Roy invited people interested in more information or wanting to purchase tickets to call him at 905-735-1289.

Winning tickets will be drawn Dec. 18, at Sarce Coeur following mass.



Photo Credits: Ralph Belvedere and Daniel Roy stand on the new front steps at Sacre Coeur church. Parishioners are now struggling with the cost of recent renovation projects, selling raffle tickets in the weeks to come to help with the costs. Allan Benner/Welland Tribune