Parish house in Greenwood has sold

Shara JJ Cooper
By Shara JJ Cooper
June 29th, 2013

Greenwood’s Roman Catholic Church, the Sacred Heart Mission, has closed a historical chapter in its more than century-long story.

The Parish House, built in 1905, has been sold. On June 22, the Catholic Women’s Club (CWC) hosted its last tea and bake sale at the Parish House and visitors took a walk down memory lane.

“It was beautiful. It went really well. We had very good attendance but we’ve always had good attendance from people of all faiths,” said CWC president Rose Boltz. “Everyone has always been very cooperative and helpful. They’ve always enjoyed coming to the ‘big house.’”

The tea and bake sale has been an annual tradition for over 40 years in Greenwood. The event is a fundraiser for the CWC with proceeds going back into the community. The sale started in the Parish House but the house has seen many uses since it was built.

Father J. Bedard built the house when Greenwood was a booming mining town at the turn of the century. Travelling priests would need a place to stay so the Parish House made an ideal resting place.

“Priests would be going on horseback from one place to another — from one town to another. They would stop there,” said Boltz. “It was used that way for a long time.”

In the 1940s it was sold to a parishioner who lived there with his family until he passed away. His family wasn’t able to maintain the house after his passing so it was sold back to the Greenwood parish.

“It hasn’t always been owned by the Parish,” said Boltz, recognizing that it still felt like it was in the family, since it was owned by a parishioner.

After the sale, it stood idle for a few years. The local church had living quarters and there wasn’t as much demand for a second house. However, in 1968 Father Agnellus Pickelle started to restore it.

Boltz has fond memories of the priest and his work.

“I’ll never forget him. His chosen name was Father Agnellus. It means little lamb. He had a heart of gold,” she said warmly.

She went on to tell how Father Agnellus restored the church so that visitors could use it.

“He wanted to make people feel welcome. We used it as a place to gather if we were having a confirmation or first communion. We (CWC) started having a bake sale and tea once a year.”

It wasn’t just the house that Father Agnellus restored. He also loved collecting old, rundown organs and bringing them back to life.

“He stored a lot of those organs at the house. It was so full, sometimes we didn’t know if we would have room for tea,” laughed Boltz.

He also brought in an altar from another Catholic church that had closed in the Boundary and would hold a private mass at the house.

“We had all the fixings to say mass. Some of the guests would come from his former parish in Vancouver just for mass. That is very unusual,” said Boltz.

Recently, the house’s main use has been for the annual tea and bake sale and the lack of use has taken a toll on the building.

“It was not being used and when a building is not being used, it’s not being heated. That can cause it to deteriorate,” said Boltz. “It was going to need a lot, a lot, a lot of upgrading. A lot of hard money would need to be spent. Even just to keep it in the condition it is in now”

A tough decision had to be made and the parish decided it was time to let the house go. It’s a decision that many have a hard time accepting.

“It was a hard decision. It’s one that some people are still struggling with. I know it had to be done. I’m just going to put it in God’s hands. It’s not as if we are closing our Parish. It’s not being used often and the taxes are so high…,” said Boltz.

Boltz doesn’t know a lot about the new buyers but believes they are from the Boundary and want to restore the house so it will still be part of the community.   

The CWC will continue to hold their annual tea and bake sale, but the new location is currently unknown. 

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