The new St. Isidore’s Church serving the French-speaking community in St. Isidore, Ont. The new building replaces the church destroyed by fire four years ago. It was consecrated and blessed by Archbishop Terrence Prendergast July 23. Photo courtesy of Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall

New life for parish after devastating fire

  • July 31, 2020

ST. ISIDORE, ONT. -- When the historic church in St. Isidore, built in 1879, was destroyed by fire after a lightning storm in 2016, the community vowed off that the spiritual centre of the small French-Canadian community in eastern Ontario would rise again.

“There was a commitment in the community to have their church again,” said Fr. Pascal Nizigiyimana.

That commitment has come to fruition.

The community may have lost an historic stone church, but a new church now stands as a focal point of the community in its place on Ste-Catherine Street, the main street in St. Isidore.

Reconstruction took more than a year to complete at a cost of close to $4 million, primarily covered by insurance money. Its pastor is pleased with the result.

“It is a wonderful place, it is a treasure for the community,” Nizigiyimana said.

The pride of the community was on full display July 23 when, four years to the day fire destroyed the original church, Ottawa-Cornwall Archbishop Terrence Prendergast presided over a special ceremony to consecrate and dedicate the new spiritual and community facility.

“I remember the day of the fire very well,” Prendergast said, adding when the fire broke out he was visiting nearby Cornwall.

“I was devastated by the complete loss of the building, even to the walls of the structure, as were the people of the village and parish,” Prendergast said. “I am very pleased that after a lot of hard work by the parish priest and committees of the parish we can begin anew.”

During the dedication ceremony, Prendergast blessed the new church and praised the community for rallying together.

“The most daunting and traumatic event in this parish’s history was the fire four years ago today, when lightning strikes set fire to the roof of the church, a blaze which spread quickly and whose effect was devastating,” he said.

“Now, having built this new church — not without its own challenges — you are prepared to begin anew. New life, a new church and new beginnings are what we celebrate this evening.

“This is cause for celebration. We can rightfully cry,
‘Hallelujah,’ ” he said.

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