Outremont church finds band-aid solution to ban on processions
Published Friday, April 13, 2012 5:16PM EDT
MONTREAL - An Outremont church has come up with a way to celebrate Orthodox Easter Sunday despite the borough's recent ban on parades and procession.
With Orthodox Easter Sunday quickly approaching, preparations were in full swing Friday at St. Nicholas Russian Cathedral in Outremont.
But this year's midnight procession, an annual tradition dating back 50 years, was banned by Outremont earlier this month.
"For us it's like somebody is taking something very dear from us," Father Michael Metni at St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church told CTV Montreal.
The procession was banned as part of new rules prohibiting parades and processions in Outremont. The rules were introduced following a conflict caught on video between members of the local Hasidic community and a municipal councillor.
After days of phone calls, Outremont's mayor made a concession, allowing worshipers to hold a procession on church grounds. They will be able to use the sidewalk, but not the streets. Not good enough, says one longtime church member.
"They didn't think about it very much," said Peter Paganuzzi. "It probably happened on the spur of the moment and it was too hasty."
Neighbors say tensions have been escalating between the Hasidic community and Outremont city hall, but that this church was simply caught in the crossfire.
Normally upwards of 300 people take part in the Easter procession, but because of the restrictions only 50 will be allowed this year.