Nearly four years after the former building was destroyed by fire, St-Isidore Roman Catholic Parish members in the village of St-Isidore will soon be worshipping in a new church building.

“It’s probably 95 per cent done,” said Jean Souligny, the Vice-President of the parish construction committee.

“We should be in by mid-March,” he said.

Construction has been underway for more than a year.  The new church is being built on the same site as the old one, which was 137 years old when it was destroyed by fire on July 23, 2016.  A lightning strike on a particularly stormy summer day was believed to be the cause.  Only three ciborias—the vessels used for storing communion hosts, were saved from the former building.

According to Souligny, the new building is roughly the same size as the former church at approximately 10,000 square feet.

Weekday and weekend masses at St-Isidore parish have been taking place in the Centre Joseph-Roy building in St-Isidore; that building is owned by the parish. Souligny estimated that 40 to 45 people attend mass on Saturdays and 80 to 90 people attend Sunday mass.

Souligny said that the final cost of the new church building is not yet fully known, but $4 million was budgeted and construction is being financed from the fire insurance payout.  He said some additional fundraising could take place if it is needed for additional interior furnishings.  No financial contributions were made from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ottawa.

The new St-Isidore church is laid out differently than the former facility.  Instead of the main entrance being directly from the wall fronting the street, it is from the south side from the parking lot.  A canopy is included over the main entrance and pavement so people can be dropped off or picked up without getting wet when it rains or snows.  Unlike with the former building, more space has been set aside for the hall, kitchen offices, and washroom facilities in the new building.

“The shape looks like a church,” said Souligny, commenting that it looks more traditional than other modern church buildings.

However, the parish has been able to add some modern flexibility to the inside of the building, which can comfortably seat 160 people.  There are two collapsible walls, one within the church, and another in the parish hall which allow space for extra church seating if it is needed for a larger ceremony such as a wedding or funeral.  Souligny said that when both walls are open, there is seating for up to 400 people, and the view from the back is still “perfect.”

Souligny explained that the construction of a new, modern church with a parish hall is simply about maintaining what St-Isidore already had in terms of a place of worship.

“We’re just rebuilding our church,” Souligny said.

St-Isidore is the Catholic patron saint of farmers and lived in Spain from 1070 to 1130.

Illustration of St-Isidore, patron saint of farmers, on the new St-Isidore church building. Photo: James Morgan