Community rallies around Pointe-St-Charles church food bank following eviction

While the residents of a Pointe-St-Charles church are being forced to leave due to major structural issues, members of the community have rallied to their side.

After enginners inspected the church's crumbling tower, the nuns of St. Gabriel's Parish were originally given just 48 hours to leave, though that eviction notice has been extended for another week.

Sister Dianna Lieffers, who has run the church's food bank for 45 years, said a miracle followed the eviction notice.

“The phone hasn't stopped ringing. People have just reached out. It's amazing,” she said.

The food bank has found a new home on Centre St., just a few doors down from the church. But the new storefront still needs a lot of work, and there has been no shortage of helping hands.

“People were wanting to know what they could do. Could they bring food? Could they help with money? When they heard we had a place and it needs quite a bit of fixing, we have some people offering to do painting, people that came here with money on Friday, $5,000 in cash for the food bank,” said Lieffers. “It needs a new floor, it's not in great shape. But I don't care, we'll get it fixed and I'm going to make it nice for our people.”

Lieffers said one issue does remain: finding a new home for Father Murray McCrory, who grew up in the Pointe as one of seven children. McCrory has lived in the rectory next to the church for decades.

“I'm not too happy but when you get to my age, in my 90s, you have to roll with the punches,” he said.

In normal times, one option would be East End's Angus House, which is a home for retired priests. But that facility is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak and isn't take new residents.

Still, Lieffers said that despite the tough times, the outreach has been inspiring.

“People lived here when they were children, they had families and St. Gabriel's somehow helped them out,” she said. “Well, now they're coming back, they have a job, they have a company and they want to help.”

“I've never experienced anything like this, how people do not forget St. Gabriel's.” 

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