The Saint-Bernard Acadian Church is condemned to deconsecration

My brothers and sisters got married in the church, she says. My little brothers and sisters were baptized in this church. It was really part of us.

With a shrinking population, declining attendance and a building in need of extensive repairs, those community traditions came to an end on Sunday as the iconic church was deconsecrated.

The purpose of deconsecration is to render the building unusable as a church or for secular use.

Plaster tiles from the ceiling of the Saint-Bernard church collapsed.

Photo: Vernon Ramesar/CBC

LeBlanc said she expected a flood of memories on Sunday.

I’m definitely going to look at where our pew was in church and where my whole family was sitting and think, you know, it’s the passage of time. »

A quote from Louise LeBlanc

I think that for us Acadians, we don’t want to see the church disappear, but we are also very realistic and we understand that there is no way for a community of our size to maintain the church.

An idea grand which lasted 32 years

The idea for the church was conceived by Edouard LeBlanc, who became the parish priest in 1907.

According to Louise LeBlanc, the priest had an idea grand to build a church that resembled European churches and got the community behind it.

The foundation stone for the structure was laid in 1910, and the community spent the next 32 years completing it.

According to a church booklet, more than 8,000 blocks of granite were hauled by Shelburne oxen to the site over 20 years and cut using hand tools.

Exterior view of St. Bernard Church, Acadian Community of Digby County.

Photo: Vernon Ramesar/CBC

The imposing building is 65 meters long, 28 meters wide, and the top of the Gothic ceiling towers rise to 21.5 meters.

Despite the building’s ancient appearance, the walls are supported by steel beams and what appears to be a stone ceiling is, in fact, plaster over a metal mesh.

I guess there’s such a sense of pride in this church because people built it, underlined Louise LeBlanc.

My grandfathers were fishermen, were farmers and other things, they came and did the masonry work and they used blood and sweat and tears to build this church. »

A quote from Louise LeBlanc

At its peak, LeBlanc said there were two weekend masses with over a thousand people in attendance for each. When COVID-19 arrived, she said about 35 people attended Mass one weekend.

In the years immediately before the pandemic, masses were held in the basement because it had become too expensive to heat the entire building, Louise LeBlanc explained.

The small congregation simply could not afford the heating and repairs needed to keep the church going.

The interior of the Saint-Bernard church.

Photo: Vernon Ramesar/CBC

Today, there are places where the plaster covering the planks that make up the roof crumbles as water seeps into the structure.

LeBlanc estimates it would cost millions to restore the church to its original glory, and the decision to deconsecrate it was made after consultation with the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth.

A central part of the community

Describing the church as a central part of the community Rev. Robert Doyle, Deacon of the Archdiocese of Halifax, said it was a sad day and the decision to deconsecrate the church was not an easy one.

Doyle warned that there would be a liturgy that locals could attend. Then people will leave and the doors will close.

All religious items that can be removed will be removed, he specified.

The altar itself would not necessarily be removed during the liturgy, but soon after it would be removed from the church or destroyed. If it is a fixed item, it will be destroyed and can no longer be used.

He revealed that sacred objects like statues will be removed.

Louise LeBlanc accepts the fate of the church.

You can’t consider the church as religion, she compares. The church is a building. You just bring your religion to this church.

According to a CBC report

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