In the early afternoon of Christmas Eve, 2016, Chad Geis, chair of the pastoral council at the Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qu’Appelle, Sask., arrived at the church he had known since his childhood to get things ready for the Christmas morning mass.
From the moment he stepped in, it was clear something was amiss. It was oddly cold inside. The thermometer read -5° C. Christmas services ended up being cancelled at the church while Geis tried to find out what was wrong with the boiler.
Two and a half blocks away, at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, there were no Christmas services planned either. Its congregation of eight to 10 active members receives sacramental ministry once a month from a retired priest who also ministers to other churches, and they wanted to offer the priest the option of putting on a service at a larger church with more children, says warden Jean Kurbis. So Kurbis and some other parishioners had made plans to attend the Christmas service at the Roman Catholic church instead. When they arrived on Christmas Day, they were surprised to see a sign bearing the words “Closed until further notice” on the door.