‘We haven’t heard anything’: Cape Broyle community group caught off guard by sale of local Catholic church and scramble to save it


CAPE BROYLE, NL — The Cape Broyle Church Committee had been trying for months to figure out how to retain community ownership of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in the community. So it came as a big surprise to them late last week when they were told by a real estate agent the building would go up for sale on Monday August 1st.

Committee chair Paula Hawkins said they contacted the Roman Catholic Episcopal Body of St. John’s in February to find a way for the community to gain legal ownership of the church, and received a response there. a few weeks ago he would need to be referred to the company’s legal department. This followed a meeting with the Archbishop the same month, where he told them that all church property would be on the chopping block.

“We heard nothing after that and when the northeast Avalon[church properties]came up for sale and they had so many months to make an offer, to see if they wanted keep their churches. We had none of that. We received a call from a real estate agent, our church would be for sale in 72 hours.

The Cape Broyle Church Committee is urging people not to bid on the community church that went up for sale this week, in hopes the community can buy it. – Contributed – Contributed

Hawkins said they expect a bidding process to occur for the Cape Broyle Church and about 70 other rural properties in the southern Avalon and Burin Peninsulas owned by the company, and had no communication from the church indicating that the properties would be sold in this manner.

On July 13, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador approved the sale of these 70 properties through real estate agents, instead of the bidding process used for properties in the St. John’s, as well as unsold properties from tenders.

“We didn’t hear anything at all,” she said. “At first they sent out some general bulletins, then there was the meeting in February, but we had no idea that was going to happen. We didn’t have time to do anything, really.

The sales are part of the company’s ongoing bankruptcy over its vicarious liability for the sexual abuse of children at the Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s by some members of the Congregation of Irish Christian Brethren 1940s in the 1960s. The money raised from the sales will be used to compensate the victims of abuse.

The committee issued an appeal asking people not to bid on the church, hoping the community could be the only potential buyer, but Hawkins said he’s already heard from someone from out of town interest in property.

It’s part of the town’s history, she said, and integral to community life in the town of about 500 people.

Donations from the community built the church, which is about 75 years old, Hawkins said, and the committee has taken care of upkeep and maintenance ever since.

“We still don’t quite understand how the (Catholic) Church can own something that they didn’t invest anything in building and didn’t even pay the bills,” she said. “Just last week we had to pay the light bill. Last year we had the roof redone, and now it’s for sale.


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