The little walk you have to take using the path between the meticulously maintained garden is good enough to reflect on the beauty of Saint Joseph oratory located in the heart of Montreal. Apart from being a place of worship, it’s also a spot of attraction for many tourists owing to its architecture and the natural surroundings.
The green dome of Saint Joseph can be viewed anywhere from Montreal, and its terrace provides a breathtaking view of northeast and west of the city, including the famous orange julep, hwy 40 and the runway of Pierre Trudeau international airport.
There’s also a garden located on top of the mountain next to the church. It’s easy to find people sitting calmly on the benches admiring the beauty of that flower garden, and the birds singing. It’s a peaceful location to spend time during spring and summer.
The church also provides shutter services to the disabled and the elderly. The shuttle buses carry these people from the ground to the top of the hill, where the basilica is located them to pray in silence and to leave behind their sorrows.
There is a coffee shop and a mini cafeteria on the third floor; it’s usually busy with people helping themselves to the variety of sandwiches, pasta, soups, pastries and hot beverages. There are also three boutiques in the church where you can purchase gifts items such as God idols, chains and religious books.
During the evening hours, a handful of worshipers can be seen sitting on the pews, praying in pin-drop silence — that is on the main prayer hall located on the ground floor; right next to it is a corridor consisting of various statues of Jesus Christ where one can light candles. The candles can be lit at a certain cost, ranging from two to six dollars. The burning candles help create a warm comforting ambiance. Counseling services are also offered, free of charge.
All these beautiful aspects of Oratory Saint Joseph were taken away by the novel coronavirus. It had left many worshipers stranded and nowhere to turn to, especially in times of uncertainty and despair. The church was offering online services, but the virtual experience can never match the physical experiences.
Luckily, the chaos surrounding COVID 19 is coming to an end, and the local government began easing off the restrictions. It was not too long for the government to announce the reopening of religious centres. As expected, Legault’s government allowed churches, temples, mosques and synagogues to reopen on June 29th. Nevertheless, it’s a great relief for all the religious groups, including the pilgrims and visitors of Oratory Saint Joseph despite the social distancing measures in place. With only a limited number of people allowed to gather inside, they could pray in a lot more silence now than before.