Steeple plight brought before Morinville Council

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Members of St. Jean Baptiste Parish brought the plight of Morinville’s oldest church and oldest historical building to Morinville Town Council Oct. 9. Parish member Gib Boddez updated councillors on just where the group was at in their quest to raise $250,000 by Nov. 12 in the hopes of obtaining a federal matching-dollar grant that would allow them to save the steeple of the historic church.

Boddez, in speaking on behalf of the parish, said since raising the plight of the steeple in the community there have been many supportive comments. “Comments that we’ve heard is that it’s the heart of our town. It’s the most prominent landmark in Morinville. It is who we are. It was the town logo for years and is still integrated in the new logo, and it connects us to the past,” Boddez said, adding the church is a prominent tourist attraction and has played host to the Community Christmas Celebration for the past 34 years.”

But in order to preserve what he and his fellow parishioners see as an historic icon, the parish group needs to raise $30,000 a week between now and the Nov. 12 grant application deadline. When the People for the Steeple campaign kicked off, the parish had $60,000 towards further restoration work. That number is now $95,000, putting the steeple initiative one third of the way towards the quarter million number needed.

Although the remaining amount is large, they are optimistic the community will support them in raising the money to preserve the historic building’s steeple.

“This structure has been standing for over 100 years,” Boddez told Council. “We want it to be there in its original majestic beauty for another hundred years for our children and their children.”

The alternative is an historic landmark without a major part of its history. “If deterioration continues, and should we have to remove the steeple, the skyline would be forever altered,” Boddez said.

Council throws out a few suggestions

Councillors had a number of questions for the group, some in the form of suggestions. Councillor Lisa Holmes asked if funding was available from the Catholic Diocese in St. Paul. Boddez confirmed a loan could be applied for which would need to be paid back. The interest rate is approximately 6 per cent per annum.

Other suggestions included seeing if insurance would cover the water damage to the steeple, something the parish has not yet considered, but will now explore with their insurance provider.

Council approves exploring support options

After hearing Boddez’ presentation on behalf of the parish and their plight to save the steeple, Councillor Sheldon Fingler made a motion to have Administration work with St. Jean Baptiste Parish to explore all possible funding options in the restoration of the church steeple.

Fingler said his motion was made due to the historic nature of the church and the significance of the steeple to Morinville’s history.

His motion was carried unanimously.

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  1. I find myself having to address Mr. Kirsop’s comments in the print edition of Morinville News. I do feel that we have indeed paid for Mr. Kirsop’s ‘roof’. At the former Vanier School, the multiple landscape projects, movement of portables off and on the school site and the pouring and immediate jackhammering and removal of concrete sidewalks for the short term accomodation of a small group cost us, as taxpayers, enormously. Is this ‘the pot calling the kettle black’?

  2. If “We” had followed the law. “We” wouldn’t be digesting sour grapes.

    If you want to talk about funding for education facilities let’s have a later discussion about funds dispersed for a playground based on the fact that it serves a community as well as a school.

    And at that time lets talk about just where those funds went.

    Alas that is not the point of today’s discussion.

    If the town wants to support a congregation in need, there is a fairly substantial group that was recently worshiping on a lawn. They don’t have a steeple either, or a roof to put it on, or walls to support that roof,or pews to sit upon beneath it.

    I did find it interesting to read however that the richest religious organization on the planet will for the low, low fee of 6%, loan it’s followers funds for maintenance and upkeep of buildings owned not by those followers, but by the organization itself.

    Nice pyramid scheme someone set up.

    I’ll vote for a rock before I’ll vote for any councillor who supports free money to a steeple that aside from aesthetics, does not serve the needs of the community as a whole without similar donations going out to every other religious and community group for maintenance and upkeep (or rebuilding as the case may be) of their facilities.

    However, perhaps a loan could be arranged. Say 5%. You get your aesthetic steeple, the town gets the interest for community coffers. It’s still a better deal than what the Diocese is offering.

    Humility, your prophet spoke of it, and frankly from my point of view the entire organization from top to bottom has forgotten that discussion.


    Thomas Kirsop

  3. Thomas is bang on. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

    I think that the church, rather than invest money in their own infrastructure, would rather fleece their own parishioners and save the money for settling sex abuse cases.

    The town should NOT get involved in this. If they feel they do have cash that is melting a hole in the coffers, the should pay off some town infrastructure or build something worthwhile like a playground.

    And why play favorites with only one church?

    If you start contributing to the fixing of part of the old building now, what happens a few years down the line when the rest of it eventually crumbles?

  4. Careful Morinville Town Council, be sure to check with Mr. Krisop before making any decisions, or he’ll be voting for rocks. Speaking of which, why did I not see his name on the ballot during the just completed by-election for a vacated council spot? From what I’ve read herein over the past couple of years, he, with a vast and unending knowledge of absolutely everything, would have been an excellent choice.

  5. Can you imagine…..
    The sun rose and the devastation was complete, the Baptist Church had burnt to the ground, everything lost, the congregation not loosing faith continued to worship, outside if necessary….. Meanwhile on the other side of town, the Catholic Church was faced with its own dilemma on how to raise money for their steeple repairs, small congregation and just not enough reach to make it happen…..
    Can you imagine….
    The Catholic congregation, practicing the “love thy neighbour” standard and handing over the money they do have to the Baptists to help them get back on their feet. Not a donation, but an interest free loan until their insurance could be put into place…..
    Can you imagine…..
    The grateful Baptist congregation, elated so much by this generous and selfless act that they all band together with the Catholic Church in raising the money required for the steeple…..
    Can you imagine…..
    The message and example this would bring about religion and brotherhood….

    Sorry…my fantasy.

  6. Gerry G: I trust that your comments towards Mr. Krisop are in jest, and meant to be funny. Otherwise, you would be suggesting that one isn’t entitled to voice their opinion without running for council. This would defeat the purpose of filling out a ballot and taking part in our democratic process, wouldn’t it?
    It would be nice, but unfortunately, our governments aren’t necessarily made up of the brightest people in our society. They are elected to represent the majority and the wishes of their constituents.
    Fifty years ago when the Catholic church and their congregations dominated many towns like ours, it would have probably been acceptable for the town to fix or replace a steeple. The church’s influence has since declined, even in Morinville.
    I happen to agree with Gerry. It’s their building, let them pay for it. Even if I supported the Catholic church, I would respect others’ who do not. Our council should do the same, and leave it be.

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