Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 4, 2004
Whitecourt parish to rebuild church
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The Catholic community here is getting ready to rebuild following the devastating overnight blaze Sept. 14 that destroyed St. Joseph's Church and its attached Knights of Columbus Hall on Mink Creek Road.
In the meantime, parishioners are attending weekend Mass at St. Joseph's School at 3804-47 St.
"We are definitely going to rebuild," said parish pastoral council member Peter Debour. "Exactly how are we going to rebuild hasn't been decided yet but we are moving forward." He said the parish is currently setting up a building committee to lead the rebuilding process.
The fire destroyed the church and the hall and caused extensive damage to the Knights of Columbus council meeting room located south of the hall.
RCMP have concluded the fire was deliberately set and is currently holding a criminal investigation, Staff Sgt. Tom Pickard said Sept. 28. He said there is no evidence the fire was a hate crime. No charges have been laid.
The fire disrupted everything "but if anything I think it's brought people closer together," said parish pastoral council vice-chair Laureen Foster. "In my mind I think there is more community; people are constantly asking what they can do and want to get involved."
The Masses at St. Joseph School are going well with good participation of the students, noted Debour. "I think everybody is actually coming together and they understand that things are different. And the community as a whole has gotten closer because of the situation."
Other Christian churches in town have offered their quarters for funerals and weddings if need be. And the Knights have been offered a room at a local hotel to hold their Tuesday evening bingos if they decide to continue with that activity.
Father Limneo Zamora, the new parish pastor, could not be reached for comment. He celebrates weekday Mass at St. Joseph's School chapel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 5 p.m. The weekend Masses are held at the school gym on Saturdays at 5 p.m. and on Sunday at 9 a.m.