Sudbury

Lively church reopens 3 years after it was closed by mysterious mould complaint

Three years after being forced out of their church due to mould concerns, a Catholic congregation in Sudbury has returned home.

Health unit didn't condemn church building, but recommended services be held elsewhere

St. Pius X in Lively hosted its first mass in three years this past weekend. It had been closed after mould was discovered in 2013. (Tara Ward)

With full pews and happy faces all around, Tara Ward says the first mass back in St. Pius X reminded her of growing up in the church.

"Being back in the building and seeing everybody again where they're happy and comfortable, it was a really great feeling," said the 25-year-old who has attended the Catholic church in Lively for most of her life.

For the last three years, Ward's "church family" has struggled, ever since St. Pius X was closed due to mould.

Documents obtained through access to information laws show the Sudbury and District Health Unit responded to a complaint at the church in the Fall of 2012.

Inspectors found "mold-like markings" and "mold-like substance", but decided that the building would not be condemned without "concrete evidence that exposure to a certain number of mold spores will result in a specific adverse health reaction."

But the health unit did recommend that the church move services to another location until the mould issues could be resolved.

Since then, the St. Pius X parish has held services in the gym at St. James school, But, it's also been dealing with speculation about why they had to leave their church in the first place.

'All of a sudden'

Some parishioners question the extent of the mould problem, and others feared the diocese was using the mould as an excuse to close the church, sell off the building and save money.

"No one was saying anything and it just popped up all of a sudden. There were a lot of those rumours going around," said Ward.

The building was put up for sale last year for $527,000, but there were no takers.

No one from the Catholic Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie could be reached for comment, but it has decided to clean-up the mould, and that's why the congregation has moved back in.

Parishioners had started raising money to build a new church, but now those funds will go toward the clean-up costs at St. Pius X.

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