MONTREAL -- St. Raphael Palliative Centre opened just months ago but has already found itself filling a much-needed niche in Montreal.

The Outremont facility is one of just five palliative day centres in Quebec and the only one in Montreal. Spots in the facility are reserved for adults with less than two years to live. Equipped with a music room, massage bed and other equipment, the focus at St. Raphael is on building community, even if time is short.

“You have that awareness and you try to make the most of each moment, of each day,” said Executive Director Rosemary O’Grady.

Residents can take part in daily group sessions with a team of specialists such as musical and art therapy.

The centre is built on the site of the old St. Raphael’s Catholic Church. That church’s pastor, Gerry Sinel, died of cancer at the West Island Palliative Care Residence in 2007. After Sinel passed away the church was deconsecrated to give the community the chance to use the land and building for another purpose. The palliative centre is dedicated to the man known as Father Gerry. The church’s front doors and windows still remain.

“We don’t think we give hope to live more years but we give hope to live a better quality of life every day,” said Clinical Nurse Coordinator Karine Gimmig.

The provincial government picks up a third of the centre’s operating budget with the rest coming from donations. Board Vice President Marco Ottoni said he believes the centre, open for just two months, is making the man who it’s dedicated to proud.

“If Father Sinel were still around today I’d say ‘Well done, good and faithful servant,’” he said.