Safety concerns have forced Saint Gabriel's Parish, long a cornerstone of Montreal's Irish community, to move operations elsewhere until repairs can be made.
Last week, members of the Catholic church in Pointe-Saint-Charles were given 48 hours to vacate the building because of worsening structural issues.
Saint Gabriel's was built in 1890 and rebuilt after a fire destroyed all but the building's stone walls in 1956, according to its website.
Today, the church's tower is in a state of advanced disrepair, and an architect and engineer advised against going in the rectory at all because "there would be a danger of it falling in," said Gerry Tibbo, a church warden.
In spite of the 48-hour deadline, the parish is still trying to find a place for Father Murray McCrory, Saint Gabriel's pastor emeritus, who currently lives in the rectory. There had been plans for McCrory to move to a retirement home, but they were put on hold because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in seniors' residences.
Repairs are due to begin next spring, Tibbo said. In the meantime, weekly mass will be held at the neighbouring Saint Charles Church.
The food bank, until now run from the rectory basement, will be housed in a vacant storefront nearby.
"I wanted to be on Centre Street and I wanted to be a place where people didn't have to climb stairs because we have a lot of folks who have a hard time with stairs," said Sister Dianna Lieffers, who oversees the operation.