There’s wreckovation, and then there is this.

In Iraq, ISIS is bulldozing churches and turned the Cathedral of Mosul into a mosque.   Meanwhile, many thousands of miles away…

… in the National Post:

What’s happening to Montreal’s churches? Quebec finding new ways to preserve its heritage in a secular age

MONTREAL — Weight machines fill the space where once there were pews, and visitors sip nutritional green smoothies, not communion wine. But despite its dramatic transformation into a private gym and spa, the onetime Dominican St. Jude’s Shrine on Montreal’s St. Denis Street remains a temple of sorts.

“It becomes almost a religion for some people,” Sonya Audrey Bonin, general manager of the Saint-Jude Espace Tonus gym, said this week. “I see it with yoga, with taking care of yourself, being careful about what you eat, having a healthy lifestyle.” And in a secular age when people are more likely to hit the gym than attend mass on a Sunday morning, the upscale facility is being hailed as a model for preserving the religious buildings that constitute an important part of Quebec’s architectural heritage.


When the council did an inventory in 2003, it identified 2,751 places of worship in the province, the vast majority of them Catholic churches. Since then, about 400 have closed, and Mr. Boucher said the rhythm is accelerating. “A church closes every week. It is a huge phenomenon,” he said. “Everyone needs to make a compromise so the buildings find a useful life in society and continue to convey their historical significance.”


Read the rest there.

Some of the pics:

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Luvadoxi says:

    Weelll….I kind of like the pool. I guess if this can preserve the structural integrity from the outside especially, maybe when the Faith returns, they can be converted back into churches, hopefully. At least they didn’t tear them down.

  2. Andrew D says:

    Disgraceful and the people in this article seem rather proud that they’re living the secular life, going to the gym instead of Sunday Mass. I’d rather see these beautiful parishes demolished than desecrated like this. Yoga in the sanctuary of a former Catholic Church?!?!

  3. vox borealis says:

    I live here in Montreal. The local church leaders basically whistle in the dark or mumble the words “vibrant” or “fruits of the council”, all the while ignoring the collapse.

  4. Second from the bottom. What are they going to change that one into? I just love the intimate circle seating instead of regimented pews and the musicians up front where you can really hear those catchy hymns.

  5. M. K. says:

    Towards the end of the article: “Where once Dominican brothers prayed and welcomed the faithful, the Saint-Jude aims to build a new kind of community — with membership fees of $200-a-month — around a lifestyle that values exercise, healthy eating and stress management….”

    It’s interesting to me that people who presumably were not willing to contribute to the upkeep of historic churches qua churches by going to Mass and putting money in the basket are apparently quite happy to fork over $200 per month to work out in the same space.

  6. Charles E Flynn says:

    Upon reading “I see it with yoga, with taking care of yourself, being careful about what you eat, having a healthy lifestyle” all I could picture was a man dressed in camel’s hair holding a small sack of locusts, rolling his eyes at what he had just heard.

  7. mysticalrose says:

    This is just depressing. Is there anything positive happening in the Church of late?

  8. So yoga has replaced catholicism. Wonder how smooth the transition was for some of these places?

  9. iPadre says:

    I prefer raising them, than moving them to secular use. “When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

  10. jflare says:

    Honestly, reading the article and looking at the pictures… I don’t know whether to scream with rage–or agony–cry, or just groan.
    Sadly, as patronizing as the one lady was regarding the local ordinary’s attitude, I don’t see much evidence to suggest that she’s entirely wrong. It’s very tragic, but too many simply do not understand–or don’t care about–the value of the faith they’ve abandoned.
    On a more positive note, who knows? Maybe a few will have cause to consider the reason for the state of the architecture.

    iPadre, I must say that can be a rather haunting note. If Christ returns and sees these former houses of worship being used in this way, given what He did to the Temple moneychangers, I dread what he might do to these people.

  11. Chiara says:

    Fr. Z –

    This is painful and distressing. My husband and I have made personal pilgrimages to the Basilica of Ste. Anne de Beaupre near Quebec City for the past several years. I must say, in the smaller towns and villages such as Ste. Anne, there is more reverence and devotion, which is very gratifying. But Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec City are becoming very anti-Catholic and secular, far more so than any area of the United States that I am aware of. Sadly, I am afraid these people will not realize what they have lost until it is too late.

  12. wmeyer says:

    I have been no more than a visitor to Montreal, but I have also seen some of the small towns and cities, especially along the St. Lawrence, and it is plain that those places truly preserve–and better, live–their heritage.

    Toronto has been on the downhill slide to multi-culti, no standards secularism for decades. At least twice, Ontario has come close to ratifying Sharia Law as a second standard in their courts. That surpasses all understanding.

    The photos provoke weeping and prayer.

  13. APX says:


    There seems to a dichotomy with a priest wearing an alb and cincture while flamenco dancing.

  14. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The Spanish language reporting says that the dance happens at the end of Mass on the big local feastday of Nuestra Senora del Carmen (of the Song). He takes off his stole and starts the procession with the local dance called the Sevillanas. It’s a very small church, so starting an outside procession inside the church means he’s necessarily doing the dance in the aisle; but he doesn’t do it by or at the altar, but rather in the aisle.

    This seems well within the normal range of Spanish feast day customs. It doesn’t look good in the videos because of the angle and the Spanish ladies wearing spaghetti straps, but it would look a lot more dignified in the traditional Malaga outfits.

  15. Suburbanbanshee says:

    1. It looks like the main reason it’s the priest doing it is that no men bother to show up for church on the feast day. He’s taking one of the traditional feast day roles of the laymen, who should be processing with the laywomen while the priest just leads the procession out with the altarboys carrying candles and crosses, and some guild is carrying Our Lady outside for the procession.

    2. He or the press quotes the popularized version of the St. Augustine quote: “Dicen que quien reza cantando reza dos veces, así que quien lo hace bailando reza por tres.” (“They say that those who pray singing pray twice; and so one who does it dancing prays a third time.”)

  16. Suburbanbanshee says:

    3. Oh, and here’s how he puts it — The women want to dance “at the feet of theVirgen del Carmen.”

    So yeah, it’s not how I’d run things because I’d like it with more dignity, but as part of a July 16th feastday when it’s hot, in a sort of down-market neighborhood, it’s not the worst. (I suspect it may also have something to do with the congregation including some Roma/Gypsies; but the article doesn’t say that so maybe I’m imagining it.)

    [It might be good to think through your points and have one comment. No?]

  17. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Oh, and he’s been caring for his two parishes in Campanillas for 16 years, but next year he’s being moved by the bishop to take care of two other parishes in Miraflores: Nuestra Senora del Pilar and Nuestra Senora de los Angeles. So the videos were in honor of it being the last fiesta with him there. They said there are also some parish videos up of their 66th anniversary celebration, with a dance and song group called el Coro Raices (The Prayers Chorus).

  18. marnold says:

    I would much rather tear a church down, brick by brick, than see this type of desecration of our holy places. As an added benefit, if we (as Catholics) made that our standard plenty of funds would come our way from secular authorities who don’t want the external beauty of the church to be destroyed. Maybe a few of them might even discover the inner beauty of the sacraments.

  19. Art says:


    Canada has always taken the multicultural approach rather than the American melting-pot one – it’s one of the difference between the two countries. The only reason why you see small towns and cities preserving their heritage is only because new immigrants tend to congregate in the major cities and have not moved out there yet.

  20. MarkG says:

    >>>Montreal’s Théatre Paradoxe preserved much of the original interior, right down to wood from the confessionals that was used to make the bar.

    Strange that they wouldn’t try to give (or even sell) the confessionals to another Church that needed them.

  21. wmeyer says:

    Art, I do understand the differences, as well as the mechanics. My accumulated residence in Canada totals 13 years, most of it in or near Toronto. Downtown Toronto is, like downtown in most American cities, the intense heart of secularism and disdain for morals. However, while in many American cities, it is a matter of toleration, Toronto seems to need to wallow in it.

  22. Supertradmum says:

    Well the gym is the worship of the body and materialism and the restaurant is the worship of entertainment. So, the idols of Western society have pushed the One True God out of the picture.

    What a visual statement of these times. Jesus is ignored.

  23. incredulous says:

    Supertradmum, I’d certainly like to see a YouTube video of Father Z or some AudioSanctum sermons blasting through the machine area at my YMCA rather than Rachel Maddow or Anderson Cooper on those large LCD TV’s… LOL. That would be “getting the smell of sheep” on us… or at least the smell of something unpleasant… wow.

  24. incredulous says:

    Sorry, audiosancto. My Latin is about as bad as my Spanish or Italiano…

  25. Art says:


    Thanks for the clarification, I see what you’re saying now. And things are going to be a lot more interesting here in Canada and not in a good way. Please keep Canada in your prayers.

  26. edwardswyco says:

    I remember my first trip to Quebec City – it was about a year before I became a Catholic. I was mesmerized by the various churches in the city and there was this one that I had my eye on for a couple days, determined to track it down and enter it to see what it looked like inside (I could tell from the outside that it was fairly old and was really curious). So, I finally tracked down the street that would lead me to the doors of the church. I was taken aback as I strolled up the sidewalk, seeing college-aged men and women lounging in the graveyard, some even laying upon sarcophagus-style tombs in order to work on their tan. As I walked into the church, was was sick to my stomach to see myself standing within a BOOKSTORE; it had been converted from a church into a lousy bookstore.

    Before I left at the end of my trip, there was another beautiful church I had seen from the main highway that I finally tracked down – that one had some broken stained glass windows boarded up and the doors had been chained shut who knows how long ago.

    All hail the glorious silent revolution. *spits*

  27. Reconverted Idiot says:

    I feel a bit sick after looking at those photos.
    Ugh to yoga especially. Funny how Buddhist ‘inner life’ waffle marries so well with the worship of physique and commoditization of health. Well, not really funny; not even uncanny, when one gives it a moment or two of thought.

  28. kittenchan says:

    Why can’t dioceses and archdioceses close down the ugly churches instead? Why can’t the modernist warehouses carefully designed with highly sophisticated “hidden meanings” and “subtle symbolisms” be abandoned, sold off, or demolished? Why does it have to the the beautiful ones that get treated this way? On the other hand, if there isn’t enough money to keep the old, beautiful churches open, then why are so many millions being spent to buy, wreckovate, or build ferociously ugly churches?

    The comment above about forking over $200 a month to work out their physical muscles in the same place they wouldn’t pay a dollar to work out their spiritual muscles was on the nose. We worship our bodies and do not love ourselves.

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