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Monday November 11th, 2013

Posted at 7:02pm

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The future is now brighter for Canada’s oldest Catholic Church west of Montreal.

Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church in West Windsor received a huge boost in its efforts to reach its goal to restore the historic building, by way of a $3.5 million dollar challenge pledge from Al Quesnel, which will be set aside and used to match new donations.

The news was announced at a luncheon, Monday afternoon, by Most Rev. Ronald P. Fabbro, C.S.B., Bishop of London and Fr. William A. Riegel, C.S.B., Pastor and was attended by many community, business and parish leaders.

Mr. Quesnel had previously contributed $1.25 million dollars toward the funding of emergency restoration repairs to keep the church building open, of which $800,000 remains for future restoration.

The Diocese of London says it is Mr. Quesnel’s ardent desire that this new pledge will serve as a catalyst for other donors to come forward with donations to support the preservation of this architectural masterpiece.

Mr. Quesnel intends to use this additional pledge to match any and all new donations received by the Our Lady of Assumption Restoration Campaign. “We are deeply grateful to Mr. Quesnel who is a supremely generous individual and an exemplary community leader,” said Father Riegel.

Referencing this exceptional gift to Assumption Church Bishop Fabbro said, “It is evident how much Mr. Quesnel believes in this project and how much it means to him. I greatly admire his leadership and desire to complete this restoration work. My hope is that his ‘challenge’ pledge will inspire other leaders in this community to come forward now with their donations to restore and preserve this important heritage site.”

Mr. Quesnel added, “The time has come for us to join together and embrace the vision of restoring this church for future generations. Let’s stand united in our resolve to contribute generously to the restoration of this living historical icon.”

In his remarks, Father Riegel emphasized the importance of the church to this region. “Our Lady of Assumption Church has been that visible, enduring sign for generations of people in Windsor. This is a place where people have gathered for centuries. It is here that countless and significant moments have been marked in the lives of our people, not only religious events but civic and cultural ones as well.”

Several other leaders in attendance Monday also stepped up and committed significant contributions of their own to the campaign and many remarked on the outstanding example Mr. Quesnel has set for us all. “Matching our contributions is a wonderful way to inspire other donors to follow suit. We all can and should do our part to preserve this piece of Canadian heritage,” said Mr. Daniel Shaheen, who made a $50,000 pledge, to be matched to $100,000, in honour of his late sister Samia Rose and his late friend Todd Ellis.

Gerald Freed, a donor to the campaign said the Freed/Orman family are considering increasing their commitment. “We are thrilled and delighted to receive the magnanimous gift from Al Quesnel for the preservation, renovation and beautification of Assumption Church. This outstanding contribution, which is the largest single charitable gift in Windsor and Essex County, should inspire us to renew our efforts to raise the remaining funds necessary for the completion of this critical project. This will guarantee that the famous landmark – the beautiful Our Lady of Assumption Church will continue to be the magnificent Western Anchor for our very important Windsor Waterfront.”

The Church requires major repairs in order to ensure it remains a safe and viable structure for both parishioners and our community at large to continue to visit and enjoy.

The restoration work of the interior and exterior of the building will take place over a period of five to six years. Construction will commence when $7 million has been pledged, and fundraising will continue until the campaign goal of $10 million is reached.

It is anticipated that construction may get underway as early as spring 2014.

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