Catholics asked to sponsor Cathedral doors and windows
"Be part of history", the advertisement on page eleven of the Sun's issue of 26 January 2021 tempts in black, yellow and red. "Contribute to the rehabilitation of the historic Roseau Cathedral."
That promotion is the latest effort by the Diocese of Roseau at raising millions to complete a slower-than-expected refurbishment of the 104 - year old Cathedral of Fair Haven in Roseau.
With the promotion, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire expects the faithful to sponsor doors or windows and in exchange have their names displayed on plaques at the entrance of the Cathedral.
"The estimates for the windows project are $333,000 and we have divided it so that people can take it," Bishop Malzaire said. "The cost per window is $4,727.47 and per door is $12,905.15, we have 54 windows and six doors and we are asking families to sponsor a door or a window".
Bishop Malzaire said he expects the doors and windows, built with wood from Brazil, to be completed in July 2021. Started more than seven years ago, the renovation of this century-old tourist attraction has come some way but there's much more work to be done before priests and bishops and choirs and the faithful sit on pews and sing together and praise God.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Fair Haven of Roseau, originally known in French as Église de Notre-Dame du Bon Port du Mouillage de Roseau, is an example of European creolization influence in Dominica, says Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.
Built in the Gothic Romanesque revival style, the Cathedral's consecration, in its present form, is dated to 1916. Though it may appear small from the outside, the interior is spacious and well lit.
"When this project was conceived way back in 2004, with the fund raising it was just to replace the roof and so when we started the termite infested roof in 2012/ 2013 at a cost of 2.5 million dollars but as we progressed, we felt the need to do some seismic test to the integrity of the foundation and the result was that the entire foundation was not wholesome and had to be retrofitted," he said. Hence, the cost of the debilitation moved from 2.5 million to 12 million dollars and given the delays Malzaire said it almost certain will be more.
"We had Hurricane Maria, which was devastating, and for two separate years we had a yearlong delay and this has stretched us," he said. "We had to put in new foundation, redo the floor, the choir loft, new doors and windows and electrical and painting so the cost just keep climbing and climbing".
Then COVID-19 appeared from out of the blue. Bishop Malzaire said the pandemic has drastically affected local fund raising activities-people just do not have money to donate.
"I know that the general public is itching to see the completion of the project. I first thought it would have taken us three years but as we go along and I see the amount of work, I have grown to become patient sometimes.
"We never had all the money for the roof project and so we had to go to the National Bank of Dominica to secure a loan of $3.8 million and it has been a struggle and the struggle still continues. So far we have spent $10.2 million. Remember the estimate is 12 million so you can see. The fund raising must continue as we have lots of work," he said.
Asked about a timeline for completion of the project, Bishop Malzaire said it's difficult to say but once the windows, doors, electrical works have been completed he expects fewer delays.