Dupre church and area landmark to be demolished
In a few days a “powerful symbol” and Dupre landmark will be burned to the ground.
After sitting empty for the past five decades, the Ukrainian Catholic Church located along Dupre road will be desanctified and demolished on Sept. 6.
“It will be sad. I guess we should have done something earlier and looked at restoring it,” said parishioner Ray Kahanyshyn, who’s father was part of the crew that built the church.
“It was a tough decision, but there is just so much work that would need to be done. The roof is rotting, the windows are all broken and there are pigeons inside. It was left and vandalized,” he added.
Originally built in 1938, the church served the faithful in the region for 35 years until a larger church was built in Bonnyville.
“The church represents a very powerful period in history. The Ukrainians came to Western Canada and one of the very first things they did was build a church,” said Father Mark Sych, Ukrainian Catholic Priest for the St. Paul District.
“It was a powerful symbol of what was most important in their lives and was something they needed to be successful and persevere. It is a powerful emblem and evidence of an amazing period of time for the Ukrainian Catholics in this part of the world.”
Sych will lead the “desanctification” of the church this Saturday, which will start with what he described as “a divine energy at the parish in Bonnyville” at 10 a.m. to commemorate the families that have been a part of the parish. The parish will then go out to the Dupre site at 2 p.m. for a short prayer service for the deceased before the Bonnyville Fire Department carries out a controlled burn of the building.
“The process of desanctifying or burning a church is like a funeral,” said Sych. “We will stake things out so that we can locate approximately where the alter would have been. It is there a hole will be dug and the ashes (of the church) will be put in there and buried.”
The spot will then be marked with a commemorative monument and fenced off, similar to the memorial across the road, where another church used to stand.
Sych says it is human nature to want to hold on to things and understands that there are some people out there opposed to the idea of burning a church. He says they have a number of different reasons for burning it.
“The best way to understand the idea of a church or parish is that it is basically like a life,” said Sych. “The church gets built and there is a reason why it is built; to serve the faithful in that community. Over a period of time it has a life. At some point in time changes happen, which results in the church not being used anymore. Then there is a death.”
Kahanyshyn, who attended the church as a child, has a ton of memories from time spent in the building. He knows it will be tough to see the church go.
“It will be sad,” said Kahanyshyn. “A landmark in the Dupre area will have disappeared.”
“It is a very significant occasion,” added Sych. “People will be coming from near and far and really won’t completely know why there are doing it, but there is a very beautiful spirit there from a longstanding history of faith. That is what we are commemorating.”