By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The campaign to save the steeple of historic St. Jean Baptiste Church is a lot closer to reality now that the fundraising campaign is $1,100 shy of its $250,000 goal. The parish learned this fall they could apply for a federal matching dollar grant that could give them up to $250,000 of the half million needed to do repairs to the church’s steeple, damaged by years of rain and wood rot. The catch was raising nearly a quarter million in seven weeks.
St. Jean Baptiste Parish member Simone Chevalier learned Wednesday just how close they were. “We were elated,” Chevalier said of learning how far the campaign had come. “That’s amazing. We did it in seven weeks. It just about makes me cry. It certainly needed caring and generous people. The parishoners have been amazing and the support we have had from the community has been great. It’s wonderful. People care.”
Hitting the $250,000 mark by Sunday’s fundraising deadline is almost a certainty. Chevalier said the Enchantment Under the Sea fundraiser at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre is set for Saturday evening. Organized by Posh Weddings, the event combines a dinner and dance with a silent auction. Additionally, there is Sunday’s collection at the church to add to the tally.
While it is certain the parish has been able to raise the cash needed to apply for the grant, there is no guarantee the application will be successful. That bridge is yet to be crossed. In the moment there is only a sense of relief and a sense of thankfulness for the generosity in reaching the first finish line. It is a thankfulness Chevalier wants to convey to the community on behalf of the parish.
“I feel extremely proud to belong to the parish and this community to have been able to accomplish this feat,” Chevalier said. “It brings tears to my eyes. It’s so emotional.”