Cathedral renovations begin for centennial preparations

Tyler Clarke
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Built 98 years ago, Prince Albert’s Sacred Heart Cathedral is undergoing a lot of work to ensure it’s in tip-top shape for its centennial celebration, set for June of 2014.


Sacred Heart Cathedral rector Father Matthew Nguyen, is seen in the cathedral, which is currently undergoing renovations that will continue to its 2014 centennial celebration.

While a group of contractors work diligently on redoing the cathedral’s front steps, Father Matthew Nguyen took some time to explain the lengthy and costly renovations that will take place during the next to years.

As rector, Nguyen is charged with overseeing the church’s renovation projects.

“We’re so proud of our cathedral,” he said. “Our cathedral is the oldest one in Saskatchewan … This is the first time we’ve done a major repair, and that’ll be costly.”

“It’s one step at a time, so this time we’re looking at the steps which we hope will be done by the end of August … because this month we have lots of weddings,” Nguyen said.

The steps have caused quite the headache over the last six years, at which time they were last redone.

They’ve continued to crack, with each year seeing additional patchwork take place.

During last year’s patching, contractors found longstanding moisture problems, which they alerted Nguyen to.

“There was too much moisture underneath because for many years the water falling down from the roof and the eaves trough would get into the bottom of the stairs,” Nguyen said.

“They said, because of this the steps can no longer be used … because of the safety of people, and that’s why we decided to have major reconstruction of the steps.”

After construction delays, work on the steps should be completed by the end of August, at an estimated cost of up to $90,000.

Then, they’ll continue down their list of renovation items, which includes additional time-consuming and costly projects, which are all in keeping with the historic structure of the cathedral.

The next projects down the list will be the replacement of the church’s nearly century-old window frames.

We’re so proud of our cathedral ... Our cathedral is the oldest one in Saskatchewan … This is the first time we’ve done a major repair, and that’ll be costly Father Matthew Nguyen

“I know there are some that are rotten and some that are very old, so we have to change the original window frames,” Nguyen said.

Then, a major repainting of the cathedral’s tall ceiling will take place, with extensive scaffolding pushing parishioners into the basement for at least a month’s time.

“Because of the moisture getting into the church … we’re going to have to repaint the whole church,” Nguyen explained, noting that in some locations the paint is peeling and dropping off the ceiling.

“Before we do the re-painting we hope that we can have the sound system changed. The sound system is not so good in the cathedral — there’s lots of echoing.”

The carpets — some original, some 20 years old — will also be replaced at this time, and the church’s five aged boilers will be looked at and possibly replaced.

Although the total cost to these renovations and upgrades have not yet been calculated, Nguyen said that the hope is that the entire Diocese of Prince Albert will chip in, and not just the cathedral’s approximately 850 families of parishioners.

The Diocese of Prince Albert was established in 1891 and is the oldest of the three Roman Catholic dioceses in Saskatchewan. It stretches across the province west to east, and from Prince Albert National Park south to the Wakaw area. It includes 87 rural and urban parishes, including 17 on First Nations reserves, with a total

Catholic population of about 40,000 people.   

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