New Beginnings: Rebuilding St. Jean Baptiste Parish with Hope and Determination

More than two years have passed since the destructive fire that devastated St. Jean Baptiste Parish in Morinville, Alta., leaving behind a painful void. However, instead of dwelling on the past, the focus now lies on the future and the construction of a new church that will honor the legacy of the original.

The tight-knit community of parishioners has come together to work towards healing and rebuilding. Ron Cust, a long-time member and former fire chief, emphasized that the investigation into the fire remains unsolved, but the community has shifted their attention towards the future. “We are talking now about building our new parish. It is just a blip in time. We are building a church for the next hundred or so years like our forefathers did in the 1900s.”

Denise Touchette, who has been attending St. Jean Baptiste since 1975, echoes this sentiment. The pain of losing their beloved church lingers, but the community looks forward, focusing on the progress of the building committee. With the support of dedicated parishioners, the committee has already raised $370,000 for the project.

The building committee has made significant strides in planning the new church. They have finalized a building footprint and floor plan, aiming to replicate the traditional look of the original structure while making cost-effective adaptations. The exterior will be manufactured with fire-resistant cement boards, trimmed with bricks that match the original color, creating the illusion of an all-brick church. The bell tower, instead of being attached to the main building, will be situated independently in front of the new chapel.

With construction companies set to present their proposals in March, the committee hopes to begin construction on May 21, with the grand opening scheduled for Christmas 2025. A parish-wide survey indicated that the majority of members wished for the new building to resemble the original as closely as possible, a desire the committee aims to fulfill.

The community is confident in their ability to fund the project without burdening the diocese or resorting to loans. Additionally, the Diocese of St. Paul has received a generous bequest of $7.2 million from their insurance company, contributing to the goal of completing the new church with a budget of $6.2 million.

Looking ahead, once phase one of the project is complete, the parish community may consider fundraising for a new welcoming center, further enriching their spiritual home with a projected cost of $2.2 million.

Q: When did the fire occur at St. Jean Baptiste Parish?
A: The fire occurred on June 30, 2021.

Q: Have there been any suspects or arrests made in the criminal investigation?
A: No, the investigation into the fire remains unsolved with no suspects or arrests at this time.

Q: How much money has the building committee raised for the reconstruction project?
A: The building committee has raised $370,000 for the project so far.

Q: When is the grand opening of the new church expected to take place?
A: The grand opening is scheduled for Christmas 2025, with construction set to begin on May 21.

Q: Will the new church resemble the original St. Jean Baptiste Parish?
A: Yes, the new church will strive to replicate the traditional look of the original structure while incorporating cost-effective adaptations.