During the 20th century, the Notre-Dame-du-Perpétuel Secours church became the center of social life in Ville-Émard, hosting many events and activities within its walls.
In March 1899, Joseph-Ulric Emard acquires the lands that will later form the Ville-Émard district. New streets, notably Monk Boulevard (formerly Davidson Avenue), were laid out there. Families settle down to work in the surrounding industries. In January 1906, a parish was created for the benefit of the Catholic population of the area. Joseph-Moïse Jolicoeur became its first parish priest.
In June 1913, the newspaper Le Devoir mentions in an article the significant growth of the sector: the parish goes from about 150 families (1400 people) in 1906 to 1200 families (6600 people) in 1913. The district probably needs a new church. Between 1914 and 1920, the Notre-Dame-du-Perpétuel-Secours church was built on the boulevard Monk, at the corner of rue Biencourt. Designed by architect Hippolyte Bergeron, the building remained unfinished until 1939. A second architect, Paul-Marie Lemieux, then planned the layout of the interior of the church. The same year, the church received an organ from Casavant Frères. In the early 1940s, Guido Nincheri , a famous religious artist, installed stained glass there.
A brief foray into Montreal newspapers and magazines of the 20th century reveals the importance of the church for the parishioners and for neighborhood life. From the 1920s, the place established itself as a true community center. In addition to the weddings and funerals that take place there, a wide range of events, raffles, parties and other activities are programmed there. In particular, the feast of Saint-Jean-Baptiste is celebrated there. The Knights of Columbus held an oyster banquet there in 1931; the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society organizes meetings and recruitment there. In the 1930s, women from Ville-Émard offered charitable works for the benefit of the less fortunate in the area.
Of course, the church is also the rallying point for most religious activities in the area. In 1932, the parishioners of Ville-Émard and Côte-Saint-Paul were, for example, invited to present themselves in front of the forecourt of the church for a pilgrimage on foot to Saint-Joseph's Oratory. In the 1930s, the church also hosted several religious retreats for the italian community neighborhood. In 1925, the Italians celebrated Saint-Dominique there; a procession follows in the streets of Ville-Émard, followed by fireworks.
The Church to a New Stage
Later in the 20th century, the place continues to serve as a space for community activities. The magazine La bonne parole indicates, for example, that the Fédération Nationale Saint-Jean-Baptiste, a section of which has existed at the Notre-Dame-du-Perpétuel-Secours church since 1916, is still active: sewing and cooking classes are offered in 1940 and 1941 to women and girls in the neighborhood. In April 1966, the “Ladies of Charity of Perpetual Help” organized a card game under the chairmanship of parish priest Gilles Guilbault. The church also serves as a performance hall, in particular for the students of the Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Conseil school who presented a Christmas concert there in 1972. An artistic gala was held there the same year. The organist Françoise Chourot, student of the famous organist Françoise Aubut, gave a recital there in 1975.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the Notre-Dame-du-Perpétuel-Secours church was experiencing difficulties. As it is rarely visited, the Archdiocese of Montreal put it up for sale in 2010. Groupe Paradoxe , a social economy enterprise, officially acquired it in 2013 to transform it into an event venue. on January 24th of 2014, the Théâtre Paradoxe opened its doors to the public: the Notre-Dame-du-Perpétuel-Secours church began its second life.
Contribution to research: Saint-Paul-Émard Historical Society.