It's been 15 years since the original Sacred Heart Parish shut down, and since that moment the community has been hard at work bringing a new Parish to Strathmore. Raising 4.3 million dollars during that time, the Sacred Heart Parish council is finally ready to put all their funds to use, as construction on the old IGA grocery store downtown will begin this June to turn it into the church.

Chair of the Sacred Heart Parish Council Tomas Rochford said the efforts of the council, incredibly generous community members, and the Diocese has them in a position to begin construction on the roof and exterior of the old IGA grocery store. That's expected to take around 3 months, and from there work on the interior of the building can begin, and that's expected to take around 12 months. If all goes well, the new parish could be set to open in the summer of 2024.

Beyond the obvious factor of this new parish being a place of worship for Catholic community members, Rochford is looking forward to all the good this parish could do for the community.

"We envisioned running a Saint Vincent de Paul Society, which is an organization that's been around for hundreds of years in the Catholic Church, and specifically to help those who might be experiencing homelessness or need food. Maybe we'll offer a soup kitchen out of the hall because we'll have a professional kitchen in there," Rochford said.

The location of the parish is something Rochford is very happy about, as it's right in the heart of downtown so he's confident it's in a good spot to reach as many people as possible. While charity is a big focus of this new parish, Rochford added it will have other benefits for the community.

"Obviously a hall is a meeting place and there will be meeting rooms, we'll see how that will be offered to community groups. Some have already contacted us with interest."

Even though the building was an old grocery store, Rochford emphasized the parish will not be just another building. His vision is to create a beautiful building that looks like a church and has "a real architectural beauty to it." He said the church will have the Catholic Neo-Romanesque architectural tradition behind it but also combined with Strathmore's history.

Even though construction is set to begin, the Sacred Heart Parish Council will continue to be hard at work fundraising. You can donate on their website here, or support the group in other ways like their upcoming golf tournament fundraiser this July. The $4.3 million raised by the council is only around half the costs, as another $1.5 million will be funded through a mortgage, and $1.5 million more will be donated by the Diocese.

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