By Robert Frank
Some 400 parishioners, priests and guests from other congregations filled the new Coptic Orthodox parish in Pointe Claire for its official opening, May 9. Two bishops presided: Bishop Paul Boulos (Africa) and Bishop Youssef Anba Paula (Bolivia).
A joyful congregation celebrated as Bishop Paul and St. Peter and St. Paul parish priest Peter Saad cut a ceremonial red ribbon to mark the inauguration of its new liturgical home. They were joined by federal cabinet minister Candice Bergen, Lac St. Louis MP Francis Scarpallegia and Pointe Claire Mayor Morris Trudeau.
Other dignitaries on hand included local Conservative candidates Valerie Assouline (Pierrefonds-Dollard) and Éric Girard (Lac St. Louis) and Pointe Claire Councilor Paul Bissonnette.
Parishioners were relieved to move into their new home at last. They had endured long delays after the congregation discovered that the derelict church that it bought from the Catholic diocese two years ago needed massive repair work.
The congregation shelled out some $2 million to clean and renovate the premises from stem to stern. It had to replace the entire leaky roof, remove all the mould and asbestos, gut and rebuild the interior, replace the building’s lighting, windows, heating, cooling and plumbing systems and install multimedia systems.
“It’s very bright and modern now,” observed church deacon Shahir Guindi.
“We want to make the same kind of investment in the school that we have made in the church, if ever the city allows us to tear down that eyesore,” Guindi promised. “We want to invest that kind of effort and money in beautifying the whole neighbourhood and would love to get going on the school, as soon as the city permits us.”
Many members of the congregation, from young children to senior citizens, spent days preceding the event to spruce up the exterior yards, lanes and parking spaces of both the church and the school.
During the first liturgy, the morning after the opening ceremony, the bishops ordained several new deacons to serve in the church.