A new year and new hope for Our Lady of Mercy Complex

TC Media newsroom@thewesternstar.com
Published on January 2, 2017

It’s a new year and with it comes a time of new hope.

That can certainly be said for Our Lady of Mercy Heritage Church and complex, which as of Jan. 1 is under a new lessee.

Our Lady of Mercy Complex Committee was recently formed after the Gravels Development Group, which was mainly made up of seniors in the community of Port au Port West, decided they gave pretty well all they had to give with such a monumental task.

That’s the task of keeping the heritage church going and constantly carrying out maintenance and improvements over the years.

The Diocese of Corner Brook and Labrador was looking at options for the property and held a public meeting in the fall, prior to the Gravels Development Committee giving up their lease on Nov. 30.

A group of nine local people decided to take on the task of leasing the church and properties that make up the complex, which include a gymnasium that has been converted into a community centre-style building and the former rectory, which now functions as a museum.

The committee members are not going into this not knowing what type of task they have before them, as members of the Gravels Development Committee made it crystal clear at the fall meeting the needs of the church are like a living thing and require lots of work and attention.

After being the lessee of the church and complex for 12 years, the development committee learned a lot about the requirements and did get a lot of work done on the church, but recognized the work needs to continue and that it will take a lot of money.

Our Lady of Mercy Complex Committee has some plans they will start almost immediately and have others they will roll out as the year progresses.

The fact is this group of people didn’t want the church or complex to go to a private entity and not know what it might end up being used for or that it would go by the wayside and fall into disrepair and possibly fall down eventually.

This group needs to be supported by at least the Bay St. George region and, really, the entire province.

Some people may wonder why they should support the church if it’s not in their region. Simply put, it’s because of the church and museum’s historical value to the province and to the tourism industry.

The complex is a tourism destination in the summer and just another attraction for people to come see when they visit the Bay St. George and Port au Port Peninsula area.

It’s something that needs to be supported, to bring new hope for these longstanding structures.