Completed in 1914, St Patrick’s church is a fine example of the Gothic Revival style. That’s
what Canada’s Historic Places registry states about its imposing significance. I once thought it’s
real significance lay in the faith of its parishioners, but I was wrong. The building plays a pivotal
part in a person’s spiritual life. I never thought this to be true until the Catholic Diocese closed
my church, Christ The King in 2001.
Christ the King Catholic Church was located on Queen Street. (Another building I have to paint)
I’m not sure how active the community was at St. Pat’s church, but I know at Christ the King, we
were a tight knit bunch of families. Each family sat in the same pew every Sunday. There was no
marker to announce this, but after many years of attending mass, everyone knew where you
could sit and which pew was already taken. The Dumanowski’s were often second pew from
the front row on centre, left side. The Starks were directly opposite on the center, right side. The
Gutfriend’s often sat in the centre front pew on the right. The Portuguese clan: the Mello’s and
the Pimento’s as well as the Italian clan: the Ciannavei’s and the Iannattone’s sat on the very
right side of the church. The Schneider’s and the Hellman’s sat on the very left side of the
church, as they were a major part of the choir.
I grew up to feel a part of something larger than myself because my mother was a devoted
Catholic. As a family, we went to church once on Saturday night and twice on Sundays. Mainly
due to the fact that we sang in the choir, and for many years, while I was growing up, there was
only one choir for all the services. My two sisters and I walked the path from our house on
Dominion street to the church so many times I think our names were worn into the sidewalk.
Looking back, I realize the church was my mother’s refuge and support system. These families,
the physical space and the connected memories of events we attended in the church are etched
in my character. When the church closed down in 2001, I stopped going to church. I just didn’t
have the same feeling of being a part of something special. The feel of the old pews, the vaulted
ceiling I stared at and the same people greeting us after church, could never be duplicated and
transferred to a new space.
Lucky for the community at St. Pat’s Church that they still have this beautiful space as part of
their Sunday routine.
30 x 62 in
Acrylic & Mixed-Media on Birch
Photo Credits, Frank Webber