Gesù: Phase I Launched
by Fr. Leonard Altilia, SJ

February 28, 2019 — Projet Nouveau Gesù is a multi-faceted apostolic initiative with the mission to develop the Gesù into a place of encounter that responds to the needs of the people of downtown Montreal and beyond in four main areas of focus:

  • Spirituality and religious practice
  • Arts and culture
  • Education
  • Social justice

Each of these areas of focus, called ‘hubs’ in the Feasibility Study, will have a key person leading it, with the four leaders joining the Project Director as the Leadership Team, working collaboratively and creatively to ensure interconnectedness and mutual support.

New Gesù Project: Leadership Team

The most ambitious element of the project involves constructing, on the Gesù property to the north of the church, a multi-purpose building of some 22 stories that would provide social housing and space for various non-profit organizations that offer service to the poor in the downtown area, and for traditional users of the theatre and artistic space on the lower level of the church. There is also the possibility of attracting commercial interests that align with the apostolic priorities of the Society.

Certainly, there are many legal and political steps that must be followed, beginning with the transfer back to the church of ownership of the land to the north and west, once sold to the city of Montreal for $1. Then, after various formal studies and public consultations have been completed, applications for a zoning change and development permit will follow. If we are able to navigate all of this successfully, we expect a grand opening sometime in 2022.

For the moment, our efforts are focussed on building relationships in the downtown area with social agencies, various professionals, and groups that align with the overall mission of the project. We are also working on the development of an Advisory Board, drawing on the expertise of those who know the City and the Jesuits in Canada.

In the coming months, expect to hear more about each of the hubs, and an explanation of the process. A key point is that the mission is first, not the construction! Above, you will see some of the people helping us along the way. For now, I ask for your prayerful support to help us through the challenges that lie ahead. Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam!!

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