A philanthropist has committed to a $3.5-million challenge pledge to Windsor's Assumption Catholic church.

Al Quesnel, who owns health clubs across the province, said he will match any donations, up to $3.5 million, meaning the church could receive $7 million in total.

Quesnel previously donated $1.25 million for preliminary restoration work.

"I donated a million and a quarter to the church, because I knew if I didn't, the church was going to close, and it's actually the oldest church in Canada, excluding one in Montreal," Quesnel said.

The total repair bill for the 170-year-old church at the foot of the Ambassador Bridge is an estimated $10 million.

Father William Riegel said $7 million would be enough to start renovations to the historic church, possibly as early as next year:

"Absolutely this is a catalyst," Riegel said of Quesnel's pledge. "We're looking forward to the other Windsor members of the community to come forward to save this very, very historical, living place called Assumption parish and church."