OUTREMONT – Saint Raphael the Archangel Church in Outremont closed its doors eight years ago.
Now, thanks to a group of volunteers, the church is getting a second lease on life.
It’s being turned into an end-of-life care facility – Montreal’s first day centre for the terminally ill.
Volunteers have been working tirelessly for years to make this happen.
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The palliative care centre would have 12 beds while the daycare centre, in the church’s basement, would offer respite care for those living their final days, as well as their families.
Services include art and music therapy, board games and even manicures and hairdressing.
Most of the volunteers trying to get this project together were part of the congregation lead by the church’s last priest, Father Gerry Sinel.
One volunteer, Marco Ottoni, quit his job to devote his time to the project.
“He always wanted this place to be a palliative care home or residence,” said Ottoni of Father Gerry, whom he calls the driving force behind this project.
“I think he’d definitely be proud, he’d want us to continue going. He’s watching over us.”
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Their efforts got a huge boost after the Montreal Archdiocese agreed to lease them the property in exchange for maintaining and renovating it.
“It’s an inspiration for them, but also for the whole as a diocese,” said Montreal’s Archbishop Christian Lepine.
“As a church, we need to be involved towards the sick. There are many ways to be involved and to have a palliative care centre is one.”
Fundraising efforts are underway and have already racked up a couple of million dollars, but they need $10 million to get the job done.
The groups is looking for donations and volunteers to run the centre once it’s complete.
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“We’re always in need of any welcome support,” said Marie-Josée Privyck, one of Maison Saint Raphael’s board members.
Currently, about 30 volunteers are taking part in the project.
As soon as the facility opens, they would need about 300 volunteers.
The goal is to start renovations by the end of the year and to open by 2017.