A prominent Acadian author is hoping his book on the Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Cathedral will revive interest in trying to save the historic Moncton building.
Robert Pichette said he's concerned about the lack of leadership from the Catholic Church and Acadian groups in trying to save the building. He said the cathedral has played a prominent part in the history of the Acadian people in Moncton.
The church has not been able to find the $7 million it needs to keep the downtown cathedral open. It is also estimated another $3 million would be needed to be put into a trust fund for future repairs.
Pichette said his book is expected out in the next few months. He's said the church has abandoned the building.
The author said he hopes his upcoming book will revive interest in saving the historic building but Pichette said he fears it may be too late.
"It will probably be the sort of last will and testament unless something drastic happens," he said.
The cathedral was built in the 1940s and it is a fixture in the Moncton skyline.
When the cathedral was opened it served roughly 1,500 families, now only 300 use it as their church regularly.
Pichette said Acadians are no longer as religious as they used to be, but that's no reason to abandon a building, which contributed so much to their identity.
Leadership is needed
Moncton Bishop Andre Richard started meeting parishioners in October seeking ideas on how to save the cathedral.
A series of studies funded by the church have demonstrated that a traditional fundraising campaign would not be successful.
Many Catholic churches in southeastern New Brunswick are also in need of repair and are reluctant to divert any money from their own reserves to help the Moncton cathedral.
As the church struggles to find cash to fund the repairs, Pichette said the New Brunswick Acadian Society should be showing some leadership in trying to save the building.
"There's no magic recipe, people will have to find money to do it but it must be organized and it has to be seen to be organized and we don't have that right now," he said.
Jean-Marie Nadeau, the president of the Acadian Society, said he will bring up the issue of the cathedral’s future at a meeting next week.
But he said even his group has trouble finding money.
"Even the national society of Acadians is trying to build a fund to shore up its own survival," he said.