Macoun church closes

By Frank Flegel

MACOUN, Sask. — It’s always a sad occasion when a church closes its doors forever but closing this one was a little different: Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Macoun, Sask. hasn’t seen a mass in close to a year.

“In the last year and a half when we’ve had a shortage of priests and having to do lay services people opted to go to Weyburn and Estevan where there is a priest presiding,” said Laurie Dekker, a member of the parish council.

After mass attendance dropped to between three and six, the decision was made to close the doors. It was the last Catholic church on Highway 39 between Weyburn and Estevan in south-east Saskatchewan. St. Joseph’s Church, Midale, 15 km north of Macoun, closed in 2011.

Dekker said the parish was still financially viable but with only a few showing up for mass and most going to St. John the Baptist in Estevan just 27 km down the road, the decision was made to close. Artifacts will be distributed to other churches and funds realized from the sale will follow parishioners to their new parish.

CHURCH CLOSURE — Laurie Dekker reads a history of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Parish before the final mass. (Flegel photo)

“It is sad to see it disappear and dissipate away,” said Dekker. “We’re following society which is sad because a lot of people are going away from Jesus and we were hoping we could get people to come back and enjoy friendship and fellowship with Our Lord.”

According to the archdiocesan history, Macoun Catholics became part of the Weyburn parish sometime between 1926 - 1935, with masses held in various homes, similar to the beginnings of most early parishes. The Catholic community in 1939 purchased a former drugstore and converted it for their use and that served until 1949 when the original St. John the Baptist Church in Estevan was purchased from the Salvation Army who had been using it as their church.

The current church was erected in 1991. Dekker said she and her husband Kellen Mack with Helen and Gerry Wock have cared for the building, and it remains in good shape. The building will be sold and Dekker said a potential buyer will decide by October 15 whether to make the purchase. She wouldn’t reveal any details but it seems the building will continue to serve a religious purpose.

Archbishop Daniel Bohan in his homily said closing the church is really an act of responsible stewardship. “We need to use our resources wisely if we are able to do what our saviour asks us to do.”

He acknowledged, however, that there is sadness because the church contains a lot of personal history. “We cannot leave this building easily. Like anything that has attached itself to our heart, we cannot let it go without feeling the sadness of loss.”

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