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Cathedral renovation on positive path


Over ten years into its renovation project, the Lady of Fair Haven Cathedral is finally on “a positive path” of development but remains short by EC $4 million for its full completion, according to a Dominica News Online report.

While he remains empathetic toward this setback, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has decided to refrain from any more financial contributions toward the “National Monument”.

The online news source reported that in 2012, the Cathedral renovation project commenced with the initial goal of roof repair. Seismic tests performed on the building proved the need for more extensive work on its foundation as the Cathedral would not be able to withstand seismic activity.

“Evidence of leaks and termite infestation soon grew into the issue of asbestos which hastened the desperate need for an overhaul,” the April article said.

According to Diocese Engineer Tarik Rolle, as of March 2024, EC $11.6 million has been invested in the restoration efforts. This includes $500,000 donated by the local Government in 2014.

At his most recent press conference, the Prime Minister revealed that his government’s donation in 2014 had attracted some negative criticism and backlash specifically from Church leaders.

In response, the nation’s leader lamented, “I stop giving churches money because even a couple of priests were saying that I wanted to influence the Church. I don’t need the Church to win elections. I go to the people directly to win elections and for somebody to have said I was trying to influence the Church politically, it’s really baseless and unfortunate. That’s not my interest.”

The article mentioned that PM Skerrit disclosed that the reason for the Government’s donation lies solely in his belief that the Church plays a fundamental role in society and the “Cathedral is a national monument” which deserves to be sponsored by the State as it relates to the well-anticipated renovations.

“Whatever religion you are in, you cannot deny the fact that the Cathedral is a major monument in the country, a national symbol,” he reiterated.

Rolle disclosed that the renovation project was divided into several lots, each addressing specific aspects of the restoration process.

“With careful planning and execution, significant milestones have been achieved. Notable progress includes the removal and replacement of the timber roof structure with stainless steel tiles and the strengthening of the walls and foundation. The bell tower and spire have been successfully retrofitted to preserve and secure the historic bells,” he said.

Once allocation of the requested amount is successful, people are expected to return to the Cathedral for normal activities within one year. Additional funds are critical to complete further renovation while the church is in use.

“Regrettably, without sufficient financial support, the timeline for completion will inevitably be pushed back, further delaying the restoration of this iconic landmark,” Rolle said.

Meanwhile, faithful are called upon to render a contribution toward the completion of the Roseau Cathedral. Regardless of the Prime Minister’s refusal to assist financially, he has informed of plans to meet with Dean of the Cathedral, Fr Nigel Karam and engage in discussions, while encouraging others to donate to the restoration process.