Work at Mountain church expected to begin in coming days
By Mark Newman, News Staff
The Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic Church building is about to become more accessible and less bumpy.
About $200,000 worth of renovation work is slated to begin in the next week or two in the 5,400 square-foot building and take 8-12 weeks to complete.
“We’ll be tearing out the whole floor,” said Chuck Emberson, a member of the Viewpoint Avenue church’s advisory committee that is overseeing the renovations.
Emberson noted the old pipes under the concrete floor that were once used to heat the church have begun to rust causing some breaks in the floor.
“We’re getting cracks and lifts into the floor, some tripping hazards,” Emberson said. “We’ve had engineers look at it and the only thing to do is replace the whole slab.”
The wood-frame alter church also has also worn over time and will be replaced by a steel and concrete structure covered by tiles.
In addition, an accessible washroom will be installed near the main entrance off Mountain Park Avenue and the walkway and stairs into the main entrance will be replaced by a concrete ramp.
Emberson said a number of plumbing and electrical upgrades will also be done to the church.
That includes adding plugs to the church floor for audio-visual equipment use and the fluorescent and incandescent lights in the church will be replaced with energy-saving LED lights.
To ready the church for the contractor, a crew of church volunteers will take apart and remove the 52 wooden pews and put them in storage.
Emberson said some of the benches will be repaired.
While the renovation work is being done, Emberson said weekend church services will be held in the gymnasium of Sacred Heart school next door and daily mass will be shifted to the nearby Casa Maria house that is operated by the Legion of Mary.
Emberson said about 250 people attend weekend services and 30 or so are on hand for the daily mass.
About $166,000 of the cost has been covered by grants from the Diocese of Hamilton and the Ex Corde Foundation, an arm of the diocese that helps parishes with special projects. Ex Corde is Latin for “from the heart”.
The balance will be collected through church fundraising.
Emberson said it’s unlikely all the renovation work will get done before Labour Day.
“It’s probably going to be into September before we get in there,” he said.
Sacred Heart pastor Father George Palamattamu said the work will help keep the church going for many years to come and he’s hopeful it will encourage parishioners with accessibility issues to return to the church.
“We have a good tradition,” he said.
Sacred Heart is the oldest Catholic parish on the Mountain with its roots reaching back to 1908.
A small white frame building at the corner of Mountian Park and Viewpoint avenues was the first home for worshippers who become an official parish until 1921.
The existing wood and stone building that replaced the original church was built in 1951-52.