As an historic event draws near for the Greater Trail Catholic community, Vicki Bisaro, 90-year church member, took a moment to reflect on the creation of Holy Trinity Parish.
“I came to Canada in 1924,” she said. “I have been attending mass since that time and I think having one church brings people closer together.”
Bisaro, a spry 96-year old Trail resident, was speaking of the canonical suppression (dissolution) of the city’s two remaining Catholic churches earlier this year, and the unification of congregations under one roof in the former Our Lady of Perpetual Help in East Trail.
The church was renamed Holy Trinity Parish (Trinity defines God as three divine persons) in May, and has been stripped down and renovated for its inaugural mass Sept. 15 at 10:30 a.m.
“When there is more than one church, people become so involved with their own parish that they forget there are others who believe in the same things,” said Bisaro. “That separates people instead of bringing them closer together.”
Since June, Tom Hart, an engineer by trade and the project’s volunteer manager, has been devoted to renovating Holy Trinity Parish using his expertise in building design and construction.
Hart has been a member of the Catholic community since the early ‘80s and was responsible for the drawings and budget to makeover the 76-year-old church.
“We’ve had a few glitches, in particular repairing the return air system under the floor,” said Hart. “We didn’t have any drawings for what was under there so we kind of had to take it one step at a time.”
The renovations, which include refinishing the original floors, installing new laminate, and a bright new wall colour, will be completed on schedule confirmed Father Jim McHugh.
Over the summer, parish volunteers put their hearts and elbow grease into the labour intensive job that involved pulling up out-dated carpet and hand scraping tiles from the floor of the 3,500-square-foot interior.
“Our parishioners have saved us well over $50,000 by volunteering labour,” said Father McHugh. “Holy Trinity really looks great. I love it and it is a big change.”
In addition to refreshing the church’s interior, volunteers dug into the project outside, and upgraded the site’s drainage systems to prevent future flooding, widened the steps, and built a new sign (yet to be unveiled).
The most obvious upgrade, a wheelchair accessible entrance, is right outside the Third Avenue doors.
“Our volunteers did it all,” said Father McHugh, adding, “People want to go out and stay active. With the community pitching in to build this, now anyone can come into Holy Trinity with ease.”
Although the church will not reveal its new look to parishioners until next Sunday, Bisaro is hoping for a sneak peak in a few days.
“I was there when the renovations first began,” she said. “It was such a mess I never went in. Now I am thinking about driving over Monday to see how welcoming it looks.”
Once the church opens its doors to all the people, another will close its place of worship forever.
The last mass at St. Anthony’s (St. Anthony’s of Padua), built by Trail’s Italian community in 1938, will be Sept. 14 at 7 p.m.
“We are looking at maybe a year before the committee makes any permanent decisions about the building,” said Father McHugh, adding, “But that will be the very last mass before the church closes its doors.”