Bishop confirms reserve church will be rebuilt after fire

A church that was destroyed by fire last year will be rebuilt, but a lack of money from the diocese means that insurance money is all the money available for a rebuild.

Insurance money is all that's available for rebuild

The only church at Kingsclear First Nation burned down Dec. 11. ((Matt McCann/CBC))

A church that was destroyed by fire last year will be rebuilt, the Bishop of Saint John confirmed today, but it's not yet known when or how much it will cost.

St. Ann's Parish, built in 1904, was the only church on the Kingsclear First Nation.

It burned to the ground last December.

Since then, services have been held in a community school and then training facility.

Until today, residents didn't know if they'd get a new church.

"We don’t have the figures yet. But the rebuild will be based on the insurance money," said Chief Gabriel Atwin. "Unfortunately the diocese doesn't have the money other than insurance money, so that's what we will operate off."

Arson charges were laid against two teenagers for the fire. Both entered not-guilty pleas and face trial in the fall.

Patrick Polchies, a band councillor, was one of the first people at the scene and said even today, the loss is still felt.

"A very poignant moment here for Kingsclear First Nation and the parish. Because it isn’t just us of course. It's the surrounding community as well. Many people married, baptized, [buried] relatives here in our cemetery. So it was a bad feeling."

It was also known as the "miracle church" because of healings attributed to St. Ann. Crutches and other artifacts that used to hang on the walls.

Chief Atwin had a lot of memories inside St. Ann's as well — as an altar boy growing up and later he got married there. He said he wants to see a church back in the community soon.

"We've waited for quite some time now before we've initiated. So I hope we can do this very soon. And I know the community is going to be excited breaking ground."

Although discussions with the diocese are taking place, no time frame is set for the rebuild to begin.

Atwin said he is working on organizing a committee with members of the parish and community to oversee the building of a new facility.