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Growing with gay abandon, weeds cover the lawn at the front of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Fair Haven, the Roseau Catholic Cathedral; construction workers have placed numerous metal poles that look like enormous ribs, along the walls; workmen hammer away incessantly inside its dome-like interior.

Started more than five years ago, the renovation of this 1903 year old cathedral 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.

December 24, 2019 is the date that the Diocese of Roseau has set to return to Our Lady.

"While it is nearing completion, funds are still needed. There are events annually to raise funds," said Father Nigel Karam, Dean of the Roseau Cathedral at a news conference on Wednesday to launch the 2019 Family Fun Day, the Diocese's major fundraising event for the Cathedral's renovation.

The Fun Day aims at raising at least EC$40,000 of the $4 million that is still required for competing the job; the church has raise $8 million since the project started in 2013. Fr. Karam said the Cathedral has been completely covered but there are finishing touches to be added to the roofing. This is expected to be completed by the end of July. Hurricane Maria in September 2017 slowed down the project by causing what Karam described as "extensive damage."

"While we get help from the public, it is still ours and it reflects us. A cathedral is a national monument and even in larger cities it is very important," Father Karam said.

When the renovation project started in 2013, Bishop of Roseau Gabriel Malzaire called on the hundreds of Catholics gathered at the Windsor Park Sports Stadium for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe to make monthly contributions toward the cost of renovation works on Our Lady of Fair Haven Cathedral.

At the end of the celebration of the Holy Eucharist on Sunday November 24, 2013 Bishop Malzaire told the Catholic faithful that foundation work was done, inner columns were being replaced and would be completed in February 2014, and that would be followed by the roof.

Bishop Malzaire indicated then that the renovation was scheduled to take three years if all the money was available. The sum needed for the full project was $8 million. By November 2013, $4.4 million had been raised and $3.6 million spent.

"We need to boost our fundraising", the bishop appealed to his church. He asked members to pledge every month: for example, 1,000 people contributing $100 a month for 12 months would translate to $1.2 million, he said. And for those who could not afford $100, it could be $50 or $25 a month. He called on all parishioners and businesses to make a contribution towards the building of "our cathedral."

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.

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.


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