Thursday March 16,



Written by Alan Hustak for VMO
Friday April 8th,

The Archdiocese of Montreal and the St. Raphael Palliative Care Home and Day Centre have inked a deal that will allow the former to be converted into a 12- bed home and Montreal’s first palliative care day centre. After several years of negotiation, an emphyteutic lease agreement which covers a 75 year period was signed on March 30.

Construction is expected to begin later this year and the facility is expected to open in 2017.

Marco Ottoni, who left a lucrative job at a Montreal brokerage firm last year to help raise $10 million to convert the building for the project, says the facility will fulfill Rev. Gerry Sinel’s dream of converting the church, located at the crossroads of the boroughs of Outremont, Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Mount-Royal, into a centre for the terminally ill.

Father Sinel, who died of cancer in 2007, was the last pastor of the parish.

“Father Sinel had an incredible gift of bringing people together in their faith, and he was an extremely compassionate man,” says Ottoni. Just before he passed away, the Archdiocese challenged the faith community to find a new community vocation for the church, otherwise its doors would be closed for good. A small group of volunteers studied the needs of the community and looked at a number of different projects, but soon realized there was a significant shortage of palliative care beds on the Island of Montreal. This coincided perfectly with Father Sinel’s twenty-year dream of converting the church to a palliative care home. “When we saw the exceptional care Father Sinel received during his final days at a palliative care residence, we were convinced that the best way to honour his memory was to build a palliative care home for him, as well as the church’s forefathers and community,” says Ottoni.

“The need for the centre is tremendous and growing, mainly because of the aging population,” says Ottoni. “When we first started this project, people 65 years and older represented about 15 percent of the population in Montreal. By 2020, that number will be 25 percent.” At the moment, there are 14 facilities offering palliative care in Montreal, not enough to satisfy the number of patients on the waiting lists. The Quebec government contributes approximately one third of the annual operating costs for each bed.

St. Raphael’s will offer palliative care, which aims to relieve the suffering and discomfort of terminally ill patients so as to improve their quality of end of life. Therefore, it will not offer medically assisted death, as it believes that if a person receives high-quality palliative care in a warm and family-oriented environment, surrounded by loved ones, they will not wish to resort to medically assisted death. “We look forward to making a difference in the end of life of as many Montrealers as possible,” says Ottoni.

Of note, Montreal philanthropist Richard Renaud, a leading afiliate at is one of the Co-Chairs of the major fundraising campaign currently underway.

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