Renews residents hoping to give local landmark a face lift

The members of a committee of Roman Catholic parishioners and residents in Renews are hoping an injection of energy from a Spirit of Newfoundland performance will rally enough contributions to save the deteriorating façade of Holy Apostles Church.
The registered heritage structure was built in the 1870s and is still used regularly for Mass. Perched on a hill overlooking a Grotto with its famous Mass Rock, the building is a community landmark as well as a place of worship. In past years, the steeple on the church was used as a landmark for hunters returning from the woods and fishermen heading home from the fishing grounds.
But with Church attendance down and no funds available from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese Corporation to keep it up, the responsibility of maintaining the building rests with local citizens.
“The Church is in bad shape,” allowed Lois Berrigan, one of the members of the Holy Apostles Church Properties committee. “The front of it is woodpecker infested. For the first time ever we’ve seen that a lot of woodpeckers have eaten the front of the Church. Structurally it’s great, we’ve had it checked out, but it needs a lot of cosmetic work.”
The problem is finding the money to fix the problems. Due to declining populations and the limited availability of priests, parishes in the Archdiocese have been reorganized. There is only one parish now – and one priest -from Cape Broyle to Cappahayden. Proceeds from the collection plate circulated at the Masses held in the communities throughout the parish have to be shared throughout the parish. So when a particular church requires major renovations or repair, an outside injection of funds is needed. Hence the fundraiser set for Regina Mundi Cultural Centre on Lady Day, August 15, featuring Spirit of Newfoundland Productions.
Berrigan said the committee can qualify for a grant from the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland on a 70/30 basis. But the local committee has to come up with its 70 per cent first before the foundation will contribute its 30 per cent, up to a maximum of $50,000.
“We can also get new steps on the church through an Inclusion grant (from the provincial government), Berrigan pointed out. “So we’re applying for that.”
Berrigan said she would like to see $100,000 raised this year, but is doubtful the group can reach that figure. “But if we could raise probably $30,000 or $40,000 at least it’s a big start,” she said.
The money would be used to replace the clapboard and the corner boards, which appear to be rotted. “There’s a lot of rot,” Berrigan acknowledged. The steeple and roof also need attention.
Some people are sceptical about the notion of saving churches, because they aren’t used as much anymore, even for weddings and funerals, Berrigan admitted,. “But you don’t want to lose the church – it’s such a heart of your community, even the structure itself.”
The dinner show fundraiser is being organized by Natalie Brazil, who put together a similar event on Lady Day last year. This year’s entertainment features a performance by Spirit of Newfoundland Productions of their Beatles: Back in the NFLD show along with a three course meal for $65.

Posted on July 24, 2015 .