Historic Assumption Church to close after 170 years
Assumption Church is Canada's oldest church west of Montreal
Assumption Church in Windsor is closing.
The Diocese of London confirmed the information on its Facebook page Friday afternoon.
- Seating for 850 people.
- Small chapel.
- Located next to University of Windsor.
- Offices and rectory next to the church.
- No adequate meeting space.
- In need of $15 million in restoration work.
- In 2013, on average each Sunday, approximately 1,300 parishioners in total attended the four Masses celebrated in this parish.
Source: Diocese of London
"After seven years and two fundraising campaigns, the leadership of the Diocese of London and the Basilian Fathers have come to the difficult realization and decision that the future of the Assumption parish community requires a different location with a renewed focus on mission and ministry," the statement reads, in part.
The parish was originally founded as a mission in 1728 and is the oldest parish west of Montreal. The current Assumption Church is also Canada's oldest church west of Montreal.
The church will close Nov. 3. The parish will relocate to Holy Name of Mary church on nearby McEwan Avenue.
The current church, the fourth Assumption church, was built in 1842 with additions completed in 1925.
It is now in need of approximately $15 million worth of repairs.
Parishioners upset about closure
Anne Snagg has been going to Assumption Church for decades and said the building is very special to her.
"It's a very comforting place. It's a nice place to come to," said Snagg. "It's beautiful in it's own architectural way. In it's own way it reminds you it has a lot of history. I really like it."
"I don't see why the government isn't doing anything to help."
Cameron Rankin has been attending mass at Assumption Church for the past 18 years with his family. Rankin was an altar boy when he was younger, and sang in the choir every weekend.
"I played guitar there, I played piano. My best friend got married there. We got all of our sacrament there."
Rankin found out about the closing on social media, but said he wasn't shocked.
"I wasn't too surprised, just because it's a huge effort. It's an old building and it's in disrepair," said Rankin. "I'm not as surprised as much as I am just sad."
"As tough as it is to say goodbye to a building, ultimately it's about the community. It's about the people. So hopefully we can bear that in mind as we navigate through the next few weeks."
Church tried to raise money to fix building
The church tried two fundraising attempts but could not raise enough money.
In 2011, Assumption Heritage Trust, a group of citizens lobbying to preserve the church, said the church's "physical integrity ... has been a concern of the church congregation and its regional leadership, heritage professionals and the general public" for several years.
The diocese says the building is not unsafe.
A fence has been installed around the perimeter of the building to safeguard against any potential falling debris.
Bishop Ronald Fabbro is scheduled to address the parish Saturday.
Fabro addressed the closure on the Diocese of London Facebook Page.
"Why close the church now?" Fabbro asked in the statement. "The building is essentially on life support. Is the building unsafe? No. We have taken precautions to ensure the safety of parishioners and staff, but the deterioration will continue.
Fabbro said there are several questions surrounding the church:
- Who would support a church that was on life support?
- Would parishioners accept being in an indefinite debt situation?
- What ministries or programs would suffer as a result?
- How long will the parishioners tolerate the future of their church being undecided?
- What effect does the added stress and unknown future of the church have on the parish leadership, staff and volunteers?
Philanthropist, Al Quesnel, in November 2012 committed to a $3.5-million challenge pledge to Windsor's Assumption Catholic church.
Quesnel, who owns health clubs across the province, said he will match any donations, up to $3.5 million, meaning the church could have received $7 million in total.
Quesnel previously donated $1.25 million for preliminary restoration work.