The people save the steeple

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – The campaign to save the steeple of historic St. Jean Baptiste Church blew well past its goal Saturday night with revenues from the Enchantment Under the Sea fundraiser organized by Jennifer Laurence of Posh Weddings and Kathy MacDougal of Engravit. The dinner and dance drew more than 100 supporters who bought tickets to the event and bid on a large selection of silent auction items.

Laurence was pleased the event was able to add another $6,800 to the fundraising initiative and to help push the goal well over the top. She and MacDougal were thanked by members of the parish for their assistance in the cause.

While Laurence’s event put the icing on the cake, the campaign had met its goal by mid-week. As of Oct. 29 the People for the Steeple initiative was just $1,100 shy of its $250,000 goal. By Nov. 7 the number had grown to $256,138. Saturday night’s event pushed the final number to $262,952.

Finance committee member Gib Boddez was pleased with what had been accomplished. “Seven weeks and we raised $250,000,” he said, adding he was appreciative of the generosity of those who made it happen. “I want to thank all of you guys because without you nothing would have happened. They say many hands make light work so when everybody throws in, this is what happens. We’ve reached our goal. Now if we can get the federal government to come up with their share, we’ve got a half million dollars to fix the church.”

The parish had 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.

While 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 parish member Simone 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.”

From left: Emcee Paul Smith talks to organizers Jennifer Laurence of Posh Weddings and Kathy MacDougal of Engravit. – Rory Turner Photo

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  1. I’m glad to see the goal has been reached without funds from Town Hall. I’m shocked to read that the Federal Government portion of the grant is not 100% guaranteed. What happens if the Feds don’t come through with their matching amount? The church would be left with a lot of cash but not enought to complete the repair. People might want their donations back if the project does not move forward with the Feds help.

  2. I am cautiously optimistic for the future of our town’s greatest icon after hearing this news. A large part of this initial success is a result of Stephen Dafoe and Morinville News giving this story plenty of coverage over the last few weeks. I hope that the federal government approves this grant with haste, unfortunately, I have my doubts.

    Regardless of what happens, this shows what are community is capable of when we come together for a common purpose.

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