Nova Scotia

5 Roman Catholic churches to be shuttered on Eastern Shore

Among the closures is St. Anselm's in West Chezzetcook. Its parishioners have been calling for it to reopen since it closed due to mould last November.

'We are losing our identity. Our church is a very important part of our life'

This 125-year-old church in West Chezzetcook has been closed due to mould concerns since November. Now, it's one of five churches slated for closure on the Eastern Shore. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Amid calls from Roman Catholic parishioners to see their church in West Chezzetcook, N.S., reopened, the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth has announced that church will permanently close along with four others next month.

Last November, St. Anselm's was closed due to mould.

But its faithful flock has been determined to see the 125-year-old church reopened. They pushed the archdiocese for answers and even held a protest in downtown Halifax last weekend.

So the news of a permanent closure on Sunday was difficult to hear.

"Before this official announcement, there was always a glimmer of hope," said Beverly Hugli, a lifelong member of St. Anselm's.

"I don't think there's too much that the community can do."

Parishioners of St. Anselm's Roman Catholic Church march on Spring Garden Road on June 9. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

Slated to close are:

  • Church of St. Anselm, West Chezzetcook.
  • Church of Saint Anne, Lake Echo.
  • Church of St. Philip Neri, Musquodoboit Harbour.
  • Church of St. Michael, East Quoddy.
  • Church of St. Martin, Tangier. 

A news release sent out by the archdiocese said the last services will be held at these churches on the weekend of July 28-29.

According to the release, mass attendance along the Eastern Shore declined by 45 per cent between 2001 and 2016 and buildings in that area require $660,000 in repairs.

"What human and financial resources remain must now be directed and invested in securing a better future," Archbishop Anthony Mancini said in the release.

"While recognizing the drastic changes and profound sense of loss this course of action causes to individuals and to various levels of the community, I believe these measures are necessary."

This notice has been taped to all of the doors at the church in West Chezzetcook. Two of the churches listed are now also slated to close. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

A spokesperson for the archdiocese said they have no further comment at this time.

"We campaigned for truth and transparency and accountability. And we still have this wall of silence in front of us," said Madeline Oldham, who attended St. Anselm's for 30 years.

"There's been no dialogue, no discussion with the parishioners."

The parishioners of St. Anselm's want a chance to bring their story to the archdiocese, but Oldham said they have not been able to meet with anyone.

Oldham said she's sad about the news and is "very disappointed" in the church leadership.

"We are losing our identity. Our church is a very important part of our life," she said.

Three churches along the Eastern Shore will remain open:

  • Church of St. Genevieve, East Chezzetcook.
  • Church of St. Denis, East Ship Harbour.
  • Church of St. Peter, Sheet Harbour.

Both women questioned why these churches were the ones selected to keep their doors open.

Hugli said St. Genevieve is "not a large church and it's not new."

Oldham has been going to Saint Anne since the closure of her church. But next month, it will close, too, and she's not sure where she will go to worship.

"I haven't decided yet," she said. "I'm still hoping we will have our church reopened in the future."

Staff from the diocese will hold two information sessions in the area to answer questions next week, according to the release.