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Alberta parish repurposes grocery store as Catholic church


T R | Fair Use via YouTube

J-P Mauro - published on 04/28/23

Construction and renovations of the former grocery story are expected to last over a year, with the new parish church set to open in the summer of 2024.

With almost daily reports of Catholic churches shutting down, forced to consolidate due to financial difficulties, or sold off and repurposed, it’s refreshing when we hear of a new church opening. In Alberta, Canada, Sacred Heart parish has gone the opposite way, purchasing an old supermarket that the community intends to convert into a Catholic church. 

Last year, the parish shared a video with a digital model of their plans for the new house of worship. The spacious hall that was once an IGA supermarket has room enough for a large worship space, community center, rooms for offices, and even a professional-grade kitchen. With a grocery store sized parking lot, the church would be able to accommodate hundreds for any celebration.

In an interview with Strathmore Now, Chair of the Sacred Heart Parish Council Tomas Rochford hailed the efforts and generosity of parishioners and the diocese in raising the $4.3 million needed for the work to begin. He noted that construction of the roof is expected to take three months, with another 12 months estimated for interior renovations. The Sacred Heart parish is expected to reopen in their new home in the summer of 2024. 

According to the Sacred Heart parish website, the community has been without a church for nearly 15 years. In 2007, both the parish’s church and rectory were deemed unsafe and were closed down. Ever since then, the community has been celebrating their Masses at two local Catholic schools, Holy Mass at Holy Cross Collegiate and Sacred Heart Academy.

Rochford explained that the Sacred Heart community is more than ready for a new home, which they hope to use for more than just Mass. He noted that they have plans to put their high quality kitchen to use with the St. Vincent de Paul Society

“We envisioned running a St. Vincent de Paul Society, which is an organization that’s been around for hundreds of years in the Catholic Church, and specifically to help those who might be experiencing homelessness or need food. Maybe we’ll offer a soup kitchen out of the hall because we’ll have a professional kitchen in there,” Rochford said.

He noted that even though the building was once a grocery store, he is confident that they can make enough changes that it will be unmistakably seen as a Catholic church. He said the church will keep to the Catholic Neo-Romanesque architectural tradition, but also combined with Strathmore’s history.

With $4.3 million raised, and an additional $3 million covered by the diocese and a mortgage, the complete cost has almost been covered. The Sacred Heart community is still, however, seeking donations to ensure everything is taken care of. Visit the Sacred Heart parish website to learn more.

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