Route des églises Unveils Secrets

Priestly robes from times past, religious relics, and symbols adorn the St-Raphael Catholic Church in Bury, and surround its president, Lee Ann Sévigny.

The Route des églises offered churches and activities as varied as the weather of the day, with its fleeting showers, soaring clouds, and luscious sun. Altogether, 11 churches participated, receiving visitors throughout the day on July 14.

There were two Roman Catholic churches: St. Raphael’s in Bury, and St. Camille in Cookshire, which hosted an ecumenical service at 4 p.m., attended by more than 40 people and led by Father Roger Roy, Rev. Tami Spires, Deacon Gabriel Kwenga and Mme Monique Lemelin.

There were four Anglican churches: Christchurch Canterbury, St. John’s Anglican near Brookbury, St. Paul’s in Bury, and St. Peter’s in Cookshire. And there were four United churches: East Clifton United in St. Isidore, Grace United in Brookbury, the United Cultural Centre in Bury, and the Sawyerville United Church Manse in Sawyerville.

Each had its story. The St. Camille bell tower collapsed in 1933. The Sawyerville United church burnt down in 2006, and its bell was stolen in 2016 but later recovered. The back of the United centre in Bury consists of the Presbyterian chapel from Gould Station, moved to Bury in 1958. The chancel of the St. Raphael church consists of its original chapel first erected in 1872.

The tour offered Protestant visitors a chance to explore the many symbols filling the Roman Catholic churches. And Catholics were able to clear up a few mysteries behind the “secret doors” of Protestant churches. In the Trinity United Church, Rev. Tami Spires said a visitor told her, «I always wondered what those numbers on the front wall meant.» (Answer: They’re the page numbers of the hymns for each service.)

For the tour organizer, Ed Pederson, a high point of the day was a ceremony celebrating the newly refurbished stained glass windows in the Christchurch Canterbury. Bagpiper Matthew Fowler led a procession into the church. The Bury Historical & Heritage Society’s president, Praxède Lévesque-Lapointe, made a presentation honouring the master artisans Hugo Baillargeon, who restored the glass, and Steven Aulis, who framed and installed the windows.

Baillargeon, from Montreal, said the «very important» windows were created by M.T. Lyons, a prominent artisan in Toronto, who immigrated from Scotland in 1846. The windows were installed in 1922, the same year that Bury resident Irwin Watson was baptised in the church, remarked Watson himself during the ceremony.

About 40 people attended the ceremony, and 75 persons signed the Christchurch Canterbury guestbook during the day. This cultural centre was just recently moved onto a new foundation next to its previous one, which had been collapsing.

Pederson summed up the tour by quoting a young visitor: «It’s wonderful to be able to come to a cultural event in our own community!»

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