St. Francis Parish, Belmont
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Built On Goodwill

Built On Goodwill

Built On Goodwill

(With The Kind Compliments of The Catholic News)

Belmont Pastoral Centre opens for Triduum

By Lara Pickford-Gordon

Belmont parish priest Fr Thomas Lawson OP is extending an invitation to the “Belmont diaspora – people who have left Belmont – to come home”.

“We have a place for you to worship,” said Fr Lawson about the new air-conditioned St Francis Pastoral Centre at Belmont Circular Road, where the Sacred Paschal Triduum will be celebrated.

In addition to the Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Gloria Saturday liturgies, there will be Masses on Easter Sunday and Monday. When completed, the Pastoral Centre will accommodate 300 people. It is located on the same compound as the St Francis of Assisi RC Church, which is closed for restoration.

In a telephone interview with the Catholic News, Fr Lawson commended the people of “goodwill [and] influence”, as well as “big business [and] corporate donors who came to the rescue” by assisting with the construction of the Pastoral Centre. He said assistance was given by Solo Beverages, the HADCO Group, NWT Enterprises Ltd, Republic Bank, other corporate donors and local philanthropists.

Fr Lawson thanked too those persons who contributed their expertise and talent. “While Belmont is economically weak, we can’t take away that there are highly qualified people living in Belmont who helped…,” he said, noting that their generosity was in keeping with Archbishop Joseph Harris’ appeal in his Ash Wednesday homily for professionals to do more pro bono work.

“They all gave their time, professional advice and cooperation free, at no charge. There was no fundraising for the centre; it was done out of goodwill,” he added.

Providing background to the project, parishioner Douglas James said a project proposal was submitted to Archbishop Harris in March 2013 and approval was given within the month.

The project site was fenced and a clear route was left for the pupils of Belmont Girls’ RC whose school is also housed on the compound. James said a team was formed comprising professionals living in Belmont or who had “strong ties to

Belmont and who wanted to give back” and they were charged with the responsibility of coming up with a design and advising on the project.

He said a very simple design was decided upon so that the Centre would not overshadow the church, which was a heritage site.

Work began on the Centre early last year, with Belmont residents involved in laying the foundation.

“Once the foundation went up, things took off,” he said in an interview at the parish hall of St Francis. He disclosed that the labour for the project was given at no cost to the parish.

James said a collection was taken up at Masses for the restoration of St Francis but with regard to funding for the Centre, “everything taking place has nothing to do with parishioners.”

He described the assistance given as “more than a gift”, especially as restoration of St Francis Church would be a long-term project.

The Catholic News was given a tour of the Pastoral Centre last Tuesday and work was still taking place inside and outside the building, including painting, tiling and electrical work.

It was just before Easter last year that Belmont parishioners began attending weekend Masses at Holy Name Convent chapel, with weekday Masses being held at the parish hall.

James said the Belmont residents were “extremely grateful and thankful” for the Pastoral Centre, and he expressed confidence that Belmont parishioners would return to the parish.

“We’ll get them back and others,” he said.

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