Bishop: $10 Million And “Everything Would Change” For Assumption Church
Saturday August 30th, 2014
Posted at 8:21pm
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Ten million dollars may be the only thing that could save historic Assumption Church in West Windsor, according to Bishop Ronald Fabbro of the Diocese of London, something the bishop confirmed while he spoke to reporters after mass, Saturday evening.
A 2007 report indicated the heritage church needed $9.8 million for repairs, including major structural work, while Fabbro said Friday the amount had climbed to $15 million after a 2012 re-assessment.
But the bishop confirmed today that $10 million would be needed to change the fate of the building.
“I’d be very happy to see ten million dollars,” Fabbro said.
“Everything would change.”
The bishop announced a plan to shutter the church building on Friday, along with a move for parishioners to Holy Name of Mary church on McEwan Street slated for this November.
But a generous cash donation could change that.
“I’ve said that it’s a done deal, we’ve tried two campaigns. We don’t have any problem with the will to fix this church, I want to fix it, it’s a beautiful church, the only problem is that we need ten million dollars to do it,” he said.
The 172-year-old church needs substantial structural repairs, and only companies skilled in restoring heritage buildings would be permitted to take on the work, Fabbro said.
“The challenge for this building in particular is that it’s an historic, heritage building, and we have to have people who have an experience working with heritage buildings to do any work on it,” he said.
When asked if offers from local construction companies to fix the building at no cost would be accepted, Fabbro stated specific expertise would be a requirement.
“A lot of people who have experience with construction, they do not have experience with heritage buildings. So we have to have that assurance before we let anybody work on this.”
When asked if he knew the total monetary sum that was pledged or raised as part of a recent fundraising campaign, or if $3 million or $7 million had been committed, Fabbro said he was not aware what had been secured.
“I’m not aware of those figures,” he said.
windsoriteDOTca has reached out to fundraisers numerous times but phone calls and emails have not been returned.
Fabbro expressed sorrow for the decision and the pain parishioners and community members will feel.
“It’s very, very painful for the people,” he said. “This church is part of their life, part of their faith and it’s heartbreaking for them.”
“We’ve been trying so hard to get the funds to repair this church, but to hear we have to close it is just devastating.”
Social media reach
In the midst of the planned closure, an effort on social media to save the church has attracted nearly 300 Facebook likes since Friday evening.
“Our Lady of Assumption: Operation Basilica” is a Facebook page created by parishioner Kyle Vermette to keep the church open and to “recognize the layers of significance spiritually, historically, culturally, not only for Catholics and for Windsor, but for others across the region and province.”
Vermette and parishioner Cyril Bagin spoke to reporters after mass and emphasized the architectural and historical aspects of the 172-year-old building.
“Literally that’s why Huron Church is called ‘Huron Church,'” Bagin said referring to the major roadway that runs beside Assumption. “This is the Huron church.”
Find the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/operationbasilica
Call to action
Parish council member Agnes Szczesniak said a ‘call to action’ was needed to save Assumption.
“We need a call to action, we need people in the greater Windsor and Essex County area, all of Ontario, and all of Canada [to help],” she said.
Szczesniak stressed a need for people to donate their time performing specialized services such as grant writing, help with proposals and people who have worked to restore historical buildings.
But time is running out.
The church is set to close November 3rd.