Report on Assumption Church outlines strained relationship
A report critical of a botched fundraising campaign for the restoration of the historic Assumption Church in Windsor is highlighting the deep divisions between those in charge.
The report is being seen by those tied to the church as a chance to clear the air and move forward.
Lawyer Paul Mullins, in his 43-page report, outlines a strained relationship between Assumption Parish, the Diocese of London and the company hired to run the fundraising campaign Philanthropic Management Consultants.
“I was aware of a lot of unhappiness and discontent in the community about the church not being restored,” says Mullins.
“The thing that I found most disturbing was how so much anger and hostility had evolved between the bishop and the diocese and the local volunteers,” added Mullins.
PMC was hired on a five-year contract paying $20,000 a month and was tasked with raising $10-million for the restoration of the church built in 1842.
Bishop Ronald Fabbro suspended the campaign in 2012 after years of conflict and $450,000 in losses split equally between the diocese and the non-profit group Assumption Heritage Fund, which helped manage the campaign.
In his report, Mullins outlines there isn't any missing money.
“They've all been accounted for but that doesn't say they were all spent wisely, or prudently or effectively,” says Mullins.
A second fundraising effort failed in 2013 and a $10-million anonymous donation was pulled off the table over due-diligence concerns.
Parishioners like Tim McKinley want to see Assumption Church restored and regular service brought back since ending in 2014.
“There was a lot of anger at the start but we'll have to see what happens,” says McKinley. “My wife and I were married in the chapel 45 years ago so it has a lot of memories.”
He says the Mullins report is bringing new optimism and thinks a new campaign can be trusted.
“I think that they can trust it again because there's a lot of love for this church and all the history,” you know, last year we celebrated 250 years as a parish which you know 100 years older than Canada, it's kind of a real heritage spot.
Bishop Ronald Fabbro has released a statement in response to the report accepting responsibility for mistakes made and local philanthropist Al Quesnel just this week has committed $5-million towards assumption church's restoration.
Mullins says he's a lot more hopeful the restoration will happen now than when he started his investigation.
“I just did not believe then and I do not believe now that this community would let this incredible part of our history disappear,” says Mullins.