Montreal

Quebec City's Très-Saint-Sacrement closed after final Sunday mass

Parishioners gathered by invitation only in the ageing church on Sunday for one last mass. Bishop Marc Pelchat led the service, saying the ceremony was kept intimate “to avoid endangering a large crowd.”

Church first opened in 1924, its two towers dominating skyline on Ste-Foy Road

Très-Saint-Sacrement was officially closed in late July after it was determined to be a danger to the public. Due to a risk of collapse, the security perimeter extended to the parking lot. (Daniel Coulombe/Radio-Canada)

Nearly a century old, the Très-Saint-Sacrement Catholic Church in Quebec City has been closed permanently.

Parishioners gathered by invitation only in the aging church on Sunday for one last mass. Bishop Marc Pelchat led the service, saying the ceremony was kept intimate "to avoid endangering a large crowd."

"It was a very sad moment," he said.

The city condemned the building in late July after inspectors determined the structure to be dangerously unstable. 

Located on Ste-Foy Road with two towers standing more than 43 metres tall, the church is in need of some $3 million in repairs. 

The two imposing towers, the building's most distinguishing features, are at risk of collapsing. 

The parish says it does not have the funds to undertake the needed renovations or to maintain the building which is large enough to hold 1,400 parishioners.

Thousands of dollars were invested in recent years in an effort to prolong the building's life but, eventually, the situation became dire, church officials said. The church has joined a rapidly growing list of condemned or abandoned houses of worship across the province.

Thousands of dollars were spent in recent years in an effort to prolong the church's life, but eventually the building's degradation became too much of a risk. (Radio-Canada)

One of the towers will be partially demolished before winter for security reasons. Due to a risk of collapse, a security perimeter also extends to parking lot.

Generations of church-goers

Quebec City Coun. Yvon Bussières was one of the few who attended the ceremony. 

The building is brimming with memories dating back to his grandfather who attended its opening ceremony 1924. Bussières, a minister, was baptized and married there. 

Years later, he fought to protect the building, calling on the Quebec government to designate it a heritage site to avoid its demolition.

Part of the church's wall collapsed in 2017. (Marie-Michelle Lacroix/Radio-Canada)

That call for government assistance has not been answered, despite the previous administration's allocation of $15 million over 10 years to preserve eight heritage churches in the Quebec City area.

That funding, approved in 2017, was in addition to Quebec City's own $15-million pledge, but the Très-Saint-Sacrement  was not among those chosen for repairs.

That same year, part of a wall collapsed as the building reached an advanced state of degradation. 

Last month, the building was cordoned off. Due to a risk of collapse, the security perimeter was extended into the parking lot.  

The church has been up for sale since November. Pelchat said the building may be transformed or demolished by the new owner.

With files from Radio-Canada

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