Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 2nd 2013 Contents A14
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, May 2, 2013
The Vatican, the central government
of the Roman Catholic Church in Italy,
has now got involved in the restoration
of the Cathedral of the Immaculate
Conception in Port-of-Spain.
The Vatican has approved an appli-
cation for financial help for the restora-
tion of the 159-year-old cathedral from
the Port-of-Spain Archdiocese, said
Jenny Lee, project co-ordinator of the
Archbishop s Appeal.
The cathedral is one of the oldest in
the English-speaking Caribbean and
was raised to the status of a minor
basilica in 1857.
Lee said under former archbishop
Edward Gilbert an application was sent
to the Vatican but it was not accepted
because it was too late. She said around
the middle of 2012, the church resubmitted
the application and recently got word
from the Vatican representative for this
region that it had been approved. She said
she is awaiting final word on it, but the
church had asked for $300,000.
Some $62 million is needed for the
restoration of the church, which has
been listed as a building of historic
importance with the National Trust,
Lee said. Thus far, $15 million has been
raised and work has begun.
A dilapidation survey came up with
the sum of $58 million for the restora-
tion of the church and when VAT and
consultancy fees were added, the cost
amounted to $62 million, Lee said.
The church is also seeking assistance
from the international T&T RC diaspora
and is continuing its fund-raising drive
with the corporate community, she
said, but the local Catholic community
has been the backbone of the fund-
The Government has given the
church $2 million for the restoration,
but Lee said the appeal committee was
putting together another proposal for
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bisses-
sar, when she presented the $2 million
cheque to Archbishop Joe Harris, said:
"Our objective is clear. We want to
ensure we continue to support the good
work that is being done by our fellow
national stakeholders like the Roman
Catholic Church and other religious
groups and bodies."
Harris had said restoring divinity to
the sacred place of the cathedral will
help citizens have more respect for each
other and will certainly lead to a change
in the behaviour of the nation.
Lee said she would rather not say how
much money the church is asking the
Government for, but said the cathedral
is much more than the mother church
of the Port-of-Spain Archdiocese.
In addition to being a significant
national heritage site, because of its
location in the heart of the capital city,
it has a transient population of many
who seek spiritual solace.
Lee said work is coming along nicely
and rapidly on the cathedral and the
committee is confident that with God s
good grace, the money will be found
to finish it on time.
Aside from God s grace, she appealed
to each citizen to walk into the bank
and make a donation to the Archbish-
op s Appeal.
Architect Rudylynn Roberts, a member
of Citizens for Conservation (CFC), who
is involved in the restoration project, said
the completion date was set for 2015 but
those working on the project are trying
to see if they can shorten the time.
Minister of National Diversity and
Social Integration Clifton de Coteau
said he is waiting for an application
from the church to see how best he
"I have received nothing so far and
have no idea of the cost except what
the archbishop said, he added.
"The cathedral is listed as one of our
important sites and I am only too will-
ing to see how we can help."
De Coteau said he had asked for a
report on the cathedral restoration from
the National Trust, which falls under
his ministry, and is awaiting a recom-
mendation from CFC.
"Then I will go to the Prime Minister
with it," he said.
Louis Homer, who works with the
National Trust, said four other Catholic
churches are in need of repairs.
As fund-raising drive continues...
Workers conduct refurbishment work at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Independence
Square, Port-of-Spain, recently. PHOTO: KEARRA GOPEE
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