Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Higher powers to assess plan for South Surrey church

The pending closure of Holy Cross Church in Crescent Beach is under appeal. - File photoThe planned closure of Holy Cross Church in Crescent Beach is under a veil of uncertainty following an appeal of the decree allowing it.

Rev. Joseph Le, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, confirmed Wednesday that “the people have reached out to the archbishop… asking him to recall his decree.”

The step stalls execution of the edict and raises some doubt as to whether the church will close, Le said.

“Only when the appeal is finalized… then we can do what the courts allow,” he said.

Peace Arch News reported last month that an edict regarding the 12268 Beecher St. church was signed by Archbishop of Vancouver Rev. J. Michael Miller on Dec. 12. 

It proclaims that the church – part of the Star of the Sea Parish – “will no longer be a sacred place” effective Jan. 16, citing reasons including the building’s need for significant repairs and that proceeds from the property’s sale would benefit the parish and Star of the Sea school; added to funds “on deposit for the purpose of constructing a new facility.”

Le would not speak to the grounds of the appeal or disclose when it was filed – the decree notes anyone seeking recourse must petition the archbishop within 10 canonical days of its filing – citing confidentiality, but said the archbishop has 30 days to respond.

The intention to dispose of the Crescent Beach site – as well as parish property in White Rock’s Five Corners district – was confirmed in a fact sheet regarding expansion plans that was initially posted to the Star of the Sea parish website but has been removed.

Those plans – with a conservative cost estimate of $13 million – described a Parish Centre on four acres adjacent to the Good Shepherd Church, located at 2250 150 St. in South Surrey.

Father Glenn Dion told PAN Wednesday that plans for the White Rock property are on hold until the city finalizes its new official community plan, which he’s been told “probably wouldn’t be until the spring.”

Dion confirmed the Holy Cross site is up for sale and that offers have been received – “but I can’t speak about that because we can’t talk about that while it’s being negotiated.”

The decree appeal – which “puts a delay on the action,” he said – was filed by members of the group Save Star of the Sea, comprising longtime parishioners and members of the church’s Knights of Columbus ministry, who launched a bid last summer to ensure the parish’s development plans maintain a Catholic presence in the heart of White Rock.

The Knights’ Jim Garnett confirmed Wednesday that he was involved in the appeal, but said he was not a signatory.

If not resolved, it could go to the Vatican for a decision, he said.

Garnett said the committee, which started out with about 20 members and next meets on Monday, is growing. Efforts have included an online petition and a letter campaign. 

The latter has resulted in more than 600 letters of opposition being sent to the archdiocese, he confirmed.

There has been some indication that the committee’s voice is being heard. Garnet pointed to a Dec. 4 bulletin on the parish website in which Dion assures parishioners “that a Catholic Church presence will be maintained within the development” of the White Rock site.

Dion Wednesday described the expansion plans as “an ongoing effort on the part of the parish to do the best for the parish.” He acknowledged disagreement remains as to how that should look.

“Some people are not happy and some people are resistant to change, but that’s just a part of the church,” he said.

Regarding the appeal, Le could not predict when the archbishop would make a decision.

As well, if the appellants disagree with the archbishop’s decision, “they have the right to appeal to a higher court,” Le said.

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