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NNSL Photo/graphic

Father Bart van Roijen, left, and Tyrone Larkin shake hands after installing the new sign that Larkin built for the Catholic parish. - Photo courtesy of Tyrone Larkin

A new sign for Sacred Heart

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services

Fort Simpson (Nov 17/06) - Those who've passed the Sacred Heart Catholic Parish in Fort Simpson recently might have noticed that something seemed a bit different.

The building itself is the same, but the welcoming sign in front of the church is entirely new.

Swinging gently beside the church, the new sign was a gift from Tyrone Larkin, a village resident.

Larkin said he decided to make a sign because the church needed one.

"I just felt really inspired to do it," Larkin said.

He first noticed the old sign early in the spring while working with Father Bart van Roijen on the church's fire safety in his role as the assistant fire marshal.

"I thought I could do better than that," Larkin said.

The previous sign was made of three hanging logs cut in half with the name of the parish carved into them. Someone must have built it with love and dedication a long time ago, but it hadn't weathered well, Larkin said.

Needing a fall project to work on in his shed, Larkin started on the sign at the end of August.

The sign is now made of stained plywood and two-by-fours purchased locally.

The entire project took a month.

Most of the time was spent waiting for the paint and stains to dry, Larkin said. Along with the name of the church and the time mass is celebrated, the sign is also decorated with a painting of a stained glass window.Larkin chose the pattern after searching on the Internet.

It shows Jesus with a sacred heart icon so it fit perfectly with the name of the parish, Larkin said.

The sign has been well-received.

"We were overjoyed," said Father Bart, about the gift of the sign.

Father Bart said the old sign was becoming a liability.

"It was in really bad shape," he said. With the top beam rotting from the inside out, Father Bart said he was afraid the approximately 250-lb sign might fall on someone.

He isn't sure when the sign was originally built. The new sign was first installed on Oct. 21 with Father Bart, Larkin, John Hazenberg, Drayton Alger and William Alger all chipping in to make the process easier.

The sign was then placed inside until the cement anchoring the new posts had hardened.

The sign was hung outside for all to see and blessed during a service on Nov. 5."It's a beautiful sign," he said.

Father Bart is quick to point out that Larkin went to the trouble of making the sign but he isn't even a member of the congregation.

Larkin, who is Baha'i, said he's met some very nice Catholics in the village.

"It's my present to them."