Roman Catholics must decide over the Christmas holidays whether it's worth investing more than $600,000 in repairs to fix up the Immaculate Heart of Mary church.

The church is one of the most impressive churches in the Moncton area with its complicated roofline towering over the Petitcodiac River.

Father Phil Mulligan said the church is only 18 years old but it already needs a lot of work.

"The roof, which has been an ongoing thorn in our side for years now, the siding and the windows," Mulligan said.

He said he's also worried there could be mould in the walls.

For the last seven months, Mulligan said the church's building committee has studied whether it's worth it for the church to pay the more than $600,000 in repairs.

Other options might be to tear it down and build an environmentally efficient building or just tear it down and amalgamate with another church in Moncton.

Mulligan said he prefers building a new church in Riverview.

"To close this parish and not to have a Catholic presence in Riverview is really a hard thing for some of us to imagine," he said.

Mulligan said there are 400 families who regularly attend mass in Riverview and they've been given ballots to vote on what they would like to see happen to their church by mid-January.

Church mergers possible

The problems facing Moncton-area churches could lead to mergers in the region.

Donald Langis, the pastoral co-ordinator with the Moncton Archdiocese, said in November the Catholic church in greater Moncton is facing some hard choices in the coming years.

Assumption Cathedral is in need of $8 million in repairs.

The archdiocese is looking at ways of improving the overall situation of Catholic churches in the Moncton area.

There are 16 parishes in Moncton and they all face prospects of declining attendance and the likelihood of future amalgamations or closures.