48 Pews Sent 2,300 km to Rankin Inlet

48 Pews Sent 2,300 km to Rankin Inlet

Files from CMIC staff and Don Proctor

When Father Marcin Rumik reached out to Catholic Missions In Canada with a pressing need for 48 pews for his parish, the Church of Mary our Mother, in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, little did he know the perfect pews would be found 2,300 kilometers away in a former church in Toronto.

Paul Crawford, of the Archdiocese of Toronto and the Ontario Knights of Columbus, became aware of the need for pews for Mary, Our Mother mission in Rankin Inlet, while searching for a tabernacle for the Church.

“I wanted to help.  I knew we had a former church with oak pews, so I talked to the people in charge, asking the Archdiocese and the priest in charge, Fr. Carlos Sierra, for permission to donate them to Fr. Marcin.  When I received the greenlight, I contacted Father Dave at CMIC.

Although the Archdiocese of Toronto was willing to donate the pews, that still left the Rankin Inlet parish pastor at odds with how to cover the cost of disassembling them in Toronto, customizing them to fit, and then shipping them to their new home in the north.

Raising the money locally was not an option. “It is a very poor Inuit community,” says Father David Reilander, President, Catholic Missions ln Canada.

Kathleen Ancker. National Director of Development, CMIC, turned to Ucal Powell, who sits on the Board of Directors, for assistance. Powell, the former executive director of the Carpenters District Council of Ontario, called on members of Carpenters Local 27 to donate their time to disassemble the heavy oak pews at the former church (St. Catherine of Siena) on Danforth Ave.

Ucal Powell, former executive director of the Carpenters District Council discussed customizing the pews with Cliff Donegal, an Instructor at the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades.

“We have good people (carpenters) willing to help out,” says Powell, noting that Tony Currie, program coordinator, College of Carpenters & Allied Trades, and a team of four Local 27 carpenters disassembled the pews and trucked them 40 kilometers’ northwest to the CCAT’s training centre in Woodbridge where they are being sized to fit their new home in Rankin Inlet.

“It was amazing how fast things went when the carpenters and allied trades people got involved. I feel blessed to have played a small part in this project.” says Crawford.

At press time, Powell had raised more than $12,500 in donations, mostly from the Carpenters District Council of Ontario and Concrete Forming Association of Ontario, for the cost of shipping the pews in containers to Churchill, Man., where they will be transported by barge to Rankin Inlet this spring. “It’s not only the goodwill of the carpenters, it is their generosity” to donate money that is helping make the project happen, says Ancker.

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Thanks to Don Proctor for interviewing Carpenters and CMIC staff.