Church gets a bailout

Terry Roberts
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Development corporation to buy hall, make donation to Long Harbour parish

The local development corporation here is going to extreme lengths to ensure the continued operation of the Roman Catholic church in this tiny Placentia Bay community.

That's despite the fact that an average of only 30 to 40 people attend weekend mass on a regular basis, and the parish has been snowed under by mounting debt and growing maintenance concerns.

A donation to the Long Harbour parish from the local development corporation should keep the church afloat in Placentia Bay. - Photo by Terry Roberts/The Telegram

Long Harbour-Mount Arlington Heights -

The local development corporation here is going to extreme lengths to ensure the continued operation of the Roman Catholic church in this tiny Placentia Bay community.

That's despite the fact that an average of only 30 to 40 people attend weekend mass on a regular basis, and the parish has been snowed under by mounting debt and growing maintenance concerns.

The corporation announced last week it will purchase the parish hall and an adjacent block of land for $130,000, plus HST of nearly $17,000. It will also contribute a "gift" of $7,000 to the parish once the purchase agreement is finalized.

It follows a $14,000 contribution to the parish last year to help it cover expenses, and an investment of $20,000 three years ago in order to carry out roof repairs and sewage system upgrades at the parish hall.

In all, the corporation will have spent nearly $194,000 on the purchase and other support for the church since 2007.

It may seem like an unusual investment for an organization whose mandate is to promote economic development in the town. But nearly all of the approximately 280 residents here are Catholic, and the corporation is flush with money following the sale last year of the former ERCO port facility.

The corporation netted some $2.35 million from the sale of the wharf to Vale Inco, which is constructing a US$2.8 billion nickel processing plant near the community.

Gary Keating, the town's mayor and head of the Long Harbour Development Corp., said helping ensure the continued operation of St. Francis Xavier parish was a natural thing to do.

"We knew they were in some trouble, and the possibility of probably losing the church and/or the parish hall was not something we felt would be in the interest of the town," Keating said.

"A contribution of this sort is unheard of in this province."

The town, which has been in an economic tailspin for years, is enjoying a reawakening because of its proximity to the megaproject. New homes are being built, business is picking up, and local residents are finding jobs at the construction site.

There's mixed views on whether the town - located about an hour's drive west of St. John's - will experience significant growth. But after losing its schools, lounge and even its lone gas bar over the years, Keating said there's a determination to hold onto the church and the parish hall.

"The amount of people going to church has changed. But there are faithful people here. It's part of their life and we wanted that to continue in terms of having the facilities to profess their faith and be able to have a social building," he said.

One resident, who asked not to be named, questioned the investment. He suggested the money would be better spent on infrastructure upgrades, such as pavement.

Doreen Greene, who chairs the parish council, said the corporation has been "very kind" to the church. Without its support, she said continued operation would be difficult.

"We would be in debt about $100,000, plus we would have a church with a leaky roof and badly in need of repairs," she said.

As part of the agreement, the parish will pay down its debt by $80,000, and spend $50,000 on church repairs.

A volunteer committee will be established to operate the hall, and the corporation has committed to paying any future operating deficits.

"We all want to preserve the unity and friendly character of our community, and the church is one aspect of that," Greene said.

troberts@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Long Harbour Development

Geographic location: Long Harbour, Long Harbour-Mount Arlington Heights, Placentia Bay ERCO St. John's

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Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    I was christened catholic only because I had no say in the matter. Later in life I realized what a bunch of hocus pocus the catholic religion is. They ruled by fear centuries ago but today people are more scientifically in tune. Give me all your money and land and I'll speak to the powers that be or you will burn in hell...lol. I wouldn't give 5 cents to salvage a church that protects the pedophiles roaming its corridors. Interestind Keating's comments that after losing schools, the lounge and only gas bar, they are determined to hold on to the least important business in the community. If the 30 to 40 patrons pray hard enough, maybe it will all come back, albeit unlikely.

  • Brad
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    What a waste of money, 30-40 people out of 250 people isn't worth sinking money into. Just another prime example of how that money will be wasted and spent before anyone knows what happened to it. Eddie Maher came out of this deal the best when he sold off his lease to the Erco site for almost as much as the council made. The town having money is a good thing, but this town had alot of money in the past, and we saw before that it can disappear in a hurry.

  • L
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    This is great news for the LA community! The hall and church is the only social aspect we have left in the community and it keeps our elders spirts and hearts alive.

  • Crazy
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    phonse ward from marystown, nl writes: Long Hr. is fortunate to have a Mayor that respect the wishes of the people that made Long Hr. their home and built the place. The nay sayers and anti church crowd took God from our schools, government and will not we satisfied until they take Him out of our lives all together.

    Really so if you are not Catholic this represents your benefits you how? I love the school thing, first and foremost there is not one scintilla of truth that god exists, secondly even if there were there is nothing that says that god is Catholic (I mean he supposedly sent his son, which there is no historic proof that he existed, as a Jew). So as far as taking God out of our schools - Phonse how would you portray God in schools that are attended by all religions? How would you teach Vishnu? Buddha? Of course if that were taught that would be something unacceptable to you because Jebus is the only way to salvation. Hence it is better to keep this idiocy out of schools.

  • tometoe
    July 02, 2010 - 13:33

    Looking are the spiritual needs of the Catholic people is the responsbility of the Archdiocese of St. John's not a town council.Perhaps the church should tender out its services to the private sector. The RC Church can afford to build and maintain a dozen churches without going in the red. Perhaps the recent Church lotto is an indication of the church's greed rather than need !

  • Tony Brake
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    The Catholic Church has had to pay out so much money because of the child molesting done by some of its priests they are probably happy to see some churches close. This idiot Pope they have now is possibly the worst thing that has happend to them in years.

  • Polly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    What Mayor Keating is doing for Long Harbour Parish is an act of insightful leadership.His ability to recognize that the community is its people, indicates forwarding thinking and comprehension of a fundamental need.

  • David
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    The separation of church and state...a pretty fundamental, sensible policy everywhere else.

    Regardless, they sold a wharf and bought a church. Good luck with that ''investment''.

  • phonse
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Long Hr. is fortunate to have a Mayor that respect the wishes of the people that made Long Hr. their home and built the place.
    The nay sayers and anti church crowd took God from our schools, government and will not we satisfied until they take Him out of our lives all together. Ironic that they are among the first to ask where God is when things go wrong. Keep up the good work Mayor Keating someone got to show example to our young people and a little time in church could do us all a lot of good.

  • Lena
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    It is good news for Long Harbour in having Vale Inco buy the town and not let it die. Too bad the company does not feel the same about it's workers that are on strike for decent wages, benefits and keeping pensions for its retirees (formerly) Inco. Remember people of Long Harbour we had ERCO that left a mess don't let Vale Inco do the same.

  • Polly
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Taxpayer IV ----------- It is said, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder .

  • Chris
    July 02, 2010 - 13:14

    Taxpayer and Polly,

    That is the hall, not the church.

  • Huh?
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    How is an 'economic development' corporation's mandate sufficiently broad to allow for this? It might be locally popular, from a governance perspective, it's outrageous.

    There's nothing wrong with any level of government generally playing a role in maintaining vital community infrastucture, but surely there's a better way than having a local development corp finance a church parish.

  • Frank
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Lena from Hamilton....think you are on the wrong story. Mainlanders!

  • Margaret
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Greene mentioned that they all want to perserve the unity and friendly character of the community, and the church is one way of doing that; well,
    it doesn't seem so because it has only 30 to 40 members attending when the whole community is mostly Catholic.

    I'm a former Catholic but am, in recent years, totally disgusted and ashamed and fed up with this richest organization in the world.
    The Service of God....what a joke!

  • Melissa
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    What a waste of money!!!

  • Taxpayer lV
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    Man, that's one hard lookin' church.

  • darls
    July 02, 2010 - 13:08

    isn't it ashame that the richest mafia in the world ...THE VATICAN...don't put something in the pot to try to keep these churches going ....they keep taking our money and we get nothing in return....with the money newfoundlanders send over there i guess the POPE can add some more gold to his palace....

  • Frank
    July 01, 2010 - 20:24

    I was christened catholic only because I had no say in the matter. Later in life I realized what a bunch of hocus pocus the catholic religion is. They ruled by fear centuries ago but today people are more scientifically in tune. Give me all your money and land and I'll speak to the powers that be or you will burn in hell...lol. I wouldn't give 5 cents to salvage a church that protects the pedophiles roaming its corridors. Interestind Keating's comments that after losing schools, the lounge and only gas bar, they are determined to hold on to the least important business in the community. If the 30 to 40 patrons pray hard enough, maybe it will all come back, albeit unlikely.

  • Brad
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    What a waste of money, 30-40 people out of 250 people isn't worth sinking money into. Just another prime example of how that money will be wasted and spent before anyone knows what happened to it. Eddie Maher came out of this deal the best when he sold off his lease to the Erco site for almost as much as the council made. The town having money is a good thing, but this town had alot of money in the past, and we saw before that it can disappear in a hurry.

  • L
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    This is great news for the LA community! The hall and church is the only social aspect we have left in the community and it keeps our elders spirts and hearts alive.

  • Crazy
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    phonse ward from marystown, nl writes: Long Hr. is fortunate to have a Mayor that respect the wishes of the people that made Long Hr. their home and built the place. The nay sayers and anti church crowd took God from our schools, government and will not we satisfied until they take Him out of our lives all together.

    Really so if you are not Catholic this represents your benefits you how? I love the school thing, first and foremost there is not one scintilla of truth that god exists, secondly even if there were there is nothing that says that god is Catholic (I mean he supposedly sent his son, which there is no historic proof that he existed, as a Jew). So as far as taking God out of our schools - Phonse how would you portray God in schools that are attended by all religions? How would you teach Vishnu? Buddha? Of course if that were taught that would be something unacceptable to you because Jebus is the only way to salvation. Hence it is better to keep this idiocy out of schools.

  • tometoe
    July 01, 2010 - 20:22

    Looking are the spiritual needs of the Catholic people is the responsbility of the Archdiocese of St. John's not a town council.Perhaps the church should tender out its services to the private sector. The RC Church can afford to build and maintain a dozen churches without going in the red. Perhaps the recent Church lotto is an indication of the church's greed rather than need !

  • Tony Brake
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    The Catholic Church has had to pay out so much money because of the child molesting done by some of its priests they are probably happy to see some churches close. This idiot Pope they have now is possibly the worst thing that has happend to them in years.

  • Polly
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    What Mayor Keating is doing for Long Harbour Parish is an act of insightful leadership.His ability to recognize that the community is its people, indicates forwarding thinking and comprehension of a fundamental need.

  • David
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    The separation of church and state...a pretty fundamental, sensible policy everywhere else.

    Regardless, they sold a wharf and bought a church. Good luck with that ''investment''.

  • phonse
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Long Hr. is fortunate to have a Mayor that respect the wishes of the people that made Long Hr. their home and built the place.
    The nay sayers and anti church crowd took God from our schools, government and will not we satisfied until they take Him out of our lives all together. Ironic that they are among the first to ask where God is when things go wrong. Keep up the good work Mayor Keating someone got to show example to our young people and a little time in church could do us all a lot of good.

  • Lena
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    It is good news for Long Harbour in having Vale Inco buy the town and not let it die. Too bad the company does not feel the same about it's workers that are on strike for decent wages, benefits and keeping pensions for its retirees (formerly) Inco. Remember people of Long Harbour we had ERCO that left a mess don't let Vale Inco do the same.

  • Polly
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Taxpayer IV ----------- It is said, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder .

  • Chris
    July 01, 2010 - 19:53

    Taxpayer and Polly,

    That is the hall, not the church.

  • Huh?
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    How is an 'economic development' corporation's mandate sufficiently broad to allow for this? It might be locally popular, from a governance perspective, it's outrageous.

    There's nothing wrong with any level of government generally playing a role in maintaining vital community infrastucture, but surely there's a better way than having a local development corp finance a church parish.

  • Frank
    July 01, 2010 - 19:47

    Lena from Hamilton....think you are on the wrong story. Mainlanders!

  • Margaret
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Greene mentioned that they all want to perserve the unity and friendly character of the community, and the church is one way of doing that; well,
    it doesn't seem so because it has only 30 to 40 members attending when the whole community is mostly Catholic.

    I'm a former Catholic but am, in recent years, totally disgusted and ashamed and fed up with this richest organization in the world.
    The Service of God....what a joke!

  • Melissa
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    What a waste of money!!!

  • Taxpayer lV
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    Man, that's one hard lookin' church.

  • darls
    July 01, 2010 - 19:43

    isn't it ashame that the richest mafia in the world ...THE VATICAN...don't put something in the pot to try to keep these churches going ....they keep taking our money and we get nothing in return....with the money newfoundlanders send over there i guess the POPE can add some more gold to his palace....