Our Lady of Assumption Church
Having closed its doors back in November 2014 due to the building’s deteriorated condition, this September marked a new and exciting chapter in the 277-year history of Our Lady of Assumption Church. Located right next to the University of Windsor, Assumption is the first Catholic Parish in Canada west of Montreal, sitting on the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy.
This new landmark in the church’s long history wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment of the Parish’s loyal attendees, Pupatello & Sons—who completed the contract under budget and on time—and past and present donors, including the Roman Catholic Diocese of London, the City of Windsor, the Toldo Foundation, and Anne Safranyos, who together raised the $1,513,000 required for Phase 1 completion.
Phase 1 of Assumption’s restoration involved the installation of a new copper shingle roof by Double AA Roofing, a new hot-water heating system by Encore Mechanical & Building Services, and Asbestos Remediation by R.C. White.
During asbestos remediation and the installation of the new heating system, a new temporary opening was created through the east wall next to the parking lot. With the intention of also enlarging the interior access through the boiler room wall to provide permanent access for future maintenance, the asbestos remediation proved challenging to say the least.
On top of having to wear protective clothing and use respirators in the heat, a series of tunnels cutting into the dirt floor in the service area meant that the access was so shallow that workers were forced to crawl twenty feet just to reach the closest tunnel.
This all came to a halt one day when the workers deepening the tunnel access from the boiler room came across some bones buried in the soil.
These remains are believed to belong to Rev. Pierre-Philippe Potier, S.J (1700-1781), who was the first pastor of Assumption Parish, and Sr. Marie-Clotilde Raizenne who was a nun belonging to the Order of the Congregation de L’Enfant Jésus (1766-1829). Rev. Pierre and Sr. Marie, along with two other priests, had died years before the current church was built, so their bones are believed to have been moved from the former church.
Following the discovery of the remains, all plans to expand access to the boiler room were abandoned. The bones have since been covered, and have been encased under a plastic membrane and concrete floor, where an appropriate marker will be placed.
Phase 2 of Assumption’s restoration will focus on plaster and paint restoration. According to the architects and historic plaster consultants, the church will need to secure the plaster before it is exposed to the potential trauma from work on the brick and stone exterior walls.
Work has begun on the architectural design, contract document preparation, and the approvals required from the City of Windsor, the Ontario Heritage Trust and the Diocese of London for all of Phase 2. Phase 2 has been budgeted at $1.4 million, with completion expected to total $3.55 million.
Our Lady of the Assumption Church is asking the public for donations to restore the church. Every donor will have their image displayed in the vestibule of the church. Also, a 3D printed replica of one of the stars embedded in the ceiling of Our Lady of the Assumption Church is awarded to individuals who donate more than $1000.
Our Lady of the Assumption Church has had a rich history over the past 244 years in the Windsor-Essex community. Our Lady of the Assumption Church closed its doors in 2012; due to structural concerns. But the Windsor-Essex community came together and campaigned enough money to finish phase 1 of Assumption Churches restoration. Let’s continue this movement, so Our Lady of the Assumption Church can complete the second phase of the project and ensure this beautiful church survives for generations to come.