Cape Breton group vows to preserve historic churches

Members of a heritage group are questioning what will happen to several Roman Catholic churches in the Syndey area after they are closed over the next two years.

The Diocese of Antigonish plans to abandon six churches in Cape Breton by 2014.

The president of the Old Sydney Society believes the historic churches slated for closure are under threat.

Ken Donovan said there are ways to preserve local heritage.

"Clearly these buildings are threatened," said Donovan. "So we have to get our antennae up and just be aware of things and be receptive and maybe do some planning and thinking."

Donovan has been researching what other regions have done to heritage buildings. He said good examples can be found in South Carolina and Georgia.

"They actually started buying buildings, fixing them up, putting an historic covenant on them, selling them back to people and using that money that they used from selling it buy another threatened building.," he said. "We are actually doing that in Sydney. We have a revolving fund with the Sydney Architectural Conservation Society in partnership with the Old Sydney Society."

Donovan said there are plans in the works but could no offer details on how they will affect the churches.

Father Anthony O'Connor has been the priest at Sacred Heart for the past 14 years. Scared Heart will close in June, 2014.

O'Connor said many of the parishioners are wondering what will happen to the church, which was built in 1889.

"I think some of the people are saying they'd like to see the building not abandoned, but used and to be preserved as a historic site and heritage site," O'Connor said. "No only for the Cathloics but certainly for CBRM and Cape Breton Island."