A weather-beaten century-old stone church in Cape Breton has seen salvation thanks to a devoted volunteer group and help from the Canadian army.

When the Catholic Church decommissioned St. Alphonsus Church 10 years ago, the group that bought the structure planned to repair it in the future.

It wasn’t long before they realized repairs couldn’t wait.

Melanie Sampson, president of the volunteer-based Stone Church Restoration Society, said that if the church doesn’t get a new roof, “she won’t survive after this winter.”

“[It’s] very stressful, very frustrating worrying from day to day if the plug was going to have to be pulled on it,” she said.

A resolution came in the form of Canadian troops in Cape Breton for training, including army engineers hoping to exercise skills required in disaster zones.

Capt. Jamie Tobin called it a great opportunity to not only help a local community organization but also to “help our soldiers get the training they need.”

After some paperwork, the soldiers moved in.

Master Cpl. Michael Galbiati-Bourassa said it’s the type of work soldiers might do overseas.

“As a construction technician, a lot of times I have combat engineers who work beneath me, so they don't get this kind of training in their trade,” he said.

The Canadian military’s repairs are being done free of charge.

Sampson said she can’t thank them enough: “We will be forever grateful,” she said.

With a report from CTV Atlantic Bureau Chief Todd Battis