WATERVILLE — The former Sacred Heart Catholic Church complex on Pleasant Street could be transformed into an events center catering to weddings and other gatherings if the city approves a zoning change that would allow for such a business there.

The Planning Board on Monday will consider recommending to the City Council that the property at 72 Pleasant St. be rezoned to allow such a commercial business in the largely residential area. As part of the rezoning, the office building on the site would be used for commercial purposes and the rectory would continue to be used as residential.

The Planning Board does not have authority to rezone properties but may recommend rezoning to the council, which would make the final decision.

Jennifer Bergeron and her business, ABACAS, are requesting the zone change and say the event center would host events such as weddings.

Sacred Heart, which has been closed for a few years, is part of the Corpus Christi Parish, which is part of The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. A call Friday morning to the parish was not immediately returned, but the parish website says its office in Waterville would be closed all week as it moves to its new office at the St. John church property at 17 South Garand St. in Winslow.

“Bishop Deeley has signed a purchase and sale agreement for the Sacred Heart property including the church, rectory, and office building,” the parish website states. “To our understanding, it will be used for community purposes.”


The site goes on to say the parish office was closed this past week while moving to the St. John campus in the former convent/faith formation building and would reopen at the new Winslow location this coming Monday. Renovations are in progress there, featuring improved heating/cooling, a handicapped-accessible bathroom, and a new accessible ramp, the site says.

The entryway to the former Sacred Heart kitchen is shown at the bottom left in Waterville on July 13, 2020. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file Buy this Photo

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland announced in March that Corpus Christi planned to put the church building, parsonage and rectory on the market. A soup kitchen that had been in the basement of the building for 40 years closed last summer because of the pandemic, but officials said the soup kitchen was unable to find a suitable alternative site so it closed permanently. The soup kitchen rented the basement space.

The fate of Sacred Heart follows the razing in 2013 of the 137-year-old St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church on Elm Street which the diocese purchased and replaced with the St. Francis Apartments, an affordable apartment complex project funded by a federal Housing and Urban Development grant. The apartment complex opened in 2014. The diocese had tried for four years to sell the church before demolishing it.

The Planning Board meeting will be held virtually at 7 p.m. Monday and those wanting to attend should contact the city’s planning office prior to 5 p.m. that day to receive a Zoom link.

In other matters, the board is scheduled to consider a request by Next Grid to approve a previously approved plan for a solar farm at 101 Webb Road.

Also, the Kennebec Water District is slated to request an informal pre-application review for a proposed fleet operation and business office building at 131 Drummond Ave.

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