Anglicans and Catholics to share church for Christmas after structural issues force one to close

In true Christmas spirit, St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in Callander will welcome its Anglican neighbors to share its church, after structural issues made the Anglican Church unsafe.

Not having a home to celebrate Christmas was a concern for Reverend Kevin McAllister, holder of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Callander, after the 131-year-old building faced a number of security concerns.

St. Peter’s is looking for a new home and had its eye on the Funeral Chapel at 87 Lansdowne Street, but that failed according to Archdeacon Jay Koyle.

See: Will Callander Become a “Hopeless Town?” “

St. Peter’s Church, built in 1890, was temporarily closed by the Diocese of Algoma, to address current issues with the construction of the church.

Some joists and floor beams have been subjected to careful examination.

“The concern was that if there were too many people in the building, would the beams under the floor be safe,” Koyle explained.

“A structural engineer has been hired to review the current load, conduct a site visit and prepare a report,” he told BayToday. “The engineer’s conclusion was that the joists and beam are significantly undersized and would not meet the requirements of the current Ontario Building Code.”

His opinion was supported by the observations he made when he visited the church and noticed a significant “check” in the main beam, as well as a “sag / bounce” when he walked on it. along the ground floor.

“Archbishop Anne Germond was very grateful for the diligence shown by the ward leaders in carrying out the study. With the information provided, she determined that it was prudent to take immediate action. Therefore, to As of December 15, the space was no longer to be used for worship or any other gathering. “

She wrote to the congregation, “Please know that I did not make this decision lightly but in the interests of the health and safety of the congregation. As your Bishop, I don’t want to risk allowing you to continue worshiping / gathering in such a dangerous space, and I hope you will receive my decision in the spirit in which it is intended. It comes from a place of deep love and concern for your well-being.

So, with the Christmas celebrations in the air, the Anglican congregation turned to its Catholic neighbors at St. Alphonsus Liguori Catholic Church, located across the same street in Callander.

“I knew we had to do something to help,” said Fr Daniele Muscolino, pastor of St. Alphonsus Liguori since 2018, “so we opened our house to our neighbors in time for Christmas”.

The two fr. McAllister and Fr. Muscolino worked together to organize a smooth transition for both communities.

“The Catholic community has shown incredible grace and hospitality in our difficult times by giving us a home,” said Fr. McAllister, who only recently arrived at St. Peter’s Church in October. “Our community being homeless is a reminder of the struggle of Mary and Joseph who had nowhere to go, appropriate for this time of year.”

“Our community of Callander is strengthened when we work together, as is the faith we share in Jesus Christ,” said Fr. Muscolino, “as we anticipate the birth of Jesus who brings joy to our lives, we are happy to share this joy with our brothers and sisters of Saint-Pierre ”.

Bishop Thomas Dowd of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, and Archbishop Anne Germond, of the Anglican Diocese of Algoma, expressed their approval and joy at the new arrangement.

“It’s beautiful when people live the gospel, and that’s what’s happening here,” added Fr. McAllister.

Both parties have established good rapport and relationship according to Archdeacon Koyle.

“So I was not surprised that this happened, but we were very happy that they showed this type of hospitality to our people as we had to close the church rather quickly due to serious concerns. regarding security issues in the building. “

The lights of St. Alphonsus will shine brightly on Christmas Eve, with St. Peter’s offering an Anglican service at 5:00 p.m., while St. Alphonsus will celebrate Catholic Mass that same evening at 8:00 p.m.

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