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Concert to celebrate Immaculate Conception planned for Sunday

The Cape Breton Post

SYDNEY MINES — The rich history of the Immaculate Conception parish will be celebrated during a special concert on Sunday at 7 p.m. at the parish.

Performers scheduled to take the stage include a long list of current and former parishioners like the Barra MacNeils, Andrew Doyle, Leanne Aucoin, Kimberley Fraser and the Immaculate Conception choir.

“Everybody that is in the concert has, over the past few years, contributed their talents to the parish,” Fraser said. “The Barras used to play a Christmas mass for a number of years on Christmas morning, Andrew used to do the Saturday mass and Leanne Aucoin and I used to play for Christmas Eve.”

She added that the longtime church choir has also been an integral part of the music of the parish.

“For me the music was a huge part of going to mass and hearing the choir every week and getting to see the Barras growing up during Christmas. It was a very special part of it.”

Plans for the concert began several months after the Diocese of Antigonish announced the parish would close on June 22 as part of a series of parish closures across Cape Breton.

“We looked at it around April, just the idea of it, and then it was just trying to get a date sorted with everybody’s busy schedule,” she said.

“Everybody is busy but it is something that everybody wanted to be a part of so we made it work.”

Though there is a lot of emotion surrounding the closure, Fraser said the concert is simply a night to celebrate the history of the parish and its people.

Special guests on Sunday will include Fr. Danny MacLennan, former parish priest, and Fr. Patrick O’Neill, who spent his pastoral year at Immaculate Conception as a seminarian.

Admission to the show will be a goodwill donation at the door for the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

When the decision to close the parish was announced in January, the Diocese of Antigonish said a new Northside parish would be established in Sydney Mines in June that will include parishioners from Immaculate Conception, Saint Pius X in Sydney Mines and St. Stephen in Florence.

As part of that process, Immaculate Conception and St. Stephen will close in June while Saint Pius X will be used as the church for the new parish.

Letters sent out to parishioners indicated that the reason the churches would close is because, as the population in Cape Breton declines and grows older, fewer church buildings are needed.