Moncton cathedral hits 'roadblock,' faces closure
The Diocese of Moncton is warning its parishioners that time is running out to save the historic Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption Cathedral as efforts to raise $7 million for repairs have hit a roadblock.
Archbishop André Richard wrote a letter to all parishioners in the Diocese of Moncton, which was read at Sunday services, saying the diocese has run out of options for saving the downtown cathedral.
Donald Langis, the diocese's spokesman, said the cathedral needs at least $7 million in repairs but there's no money.
"We have basically hit a roadblock, we now know that there's no financing available anywhere," Langis said.
"So we have to inform the people in the diocese, the faithful in the diocese that we're going to have to explore other options."
Langis said the church has no money to pay for the repairs, a consultant says a fundraising campaign won't work and the government won't contribute.
He said this fall the congregation will be asked for opinions about what to do with the cathedral.
"We have to give the faithful that last chance to say what they feel," Langis said.
The parishioners will have to discuss the possibility of tearing down the historic cathedral, selling it or attempting to find another way to raise money to pay for the needed repairs.
The diocese's preferred option was to find the money to save the cathedral but so far that plan has failed.
"There are a lot of opinions out there but these same people who have all these opinions have not come forth with money," he said.
"There is no money there."
The cathedral is more than a house of worship for many Acadians in southeastern New Brunswick. It is also a cultural landmark, completed in the late 1930s, a symbol of the resilience of the community.
Along with the needed repairs, the church spends many thousands of dollars more every year for regular maintenance of the building.
Langis said almost every parish in the diocese is short of money and saving the cathedral is just not a priority.
The diocese has said in the past that it would be difficult to raise the required funds to save the building with the local parish shrinking to roughly 300 families from about 1,000 over the years.
The Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption cathedral is not the only church in the Moncton area that is facing difficult decisions as repair bills keep mounting.
Roman Catholics in Riverview were told last December it will cost more than $600,000 to fix up the 18-year-old Immaculate Heart of Mary church.
The church leaders told their community that it is looking at options that could save the church, tear the building down and construct an environmentally efficient building or just tear it down and amalgamate with another church in Moncton.