Volunteers with the Friends of Notre Dame are planning on ditching around the historic Arichat church and repairing the front steps.

ARICHAT: Volunteers with the Catholic church here are confident they can undertake the repairs and raise the money needed to keep the historic building operating.

Odilon Boudreau, with the Friends of Our Lady of Assomption, said volunteers Gerry Samson and Jacques Martell spent three days welding new headers on the church’s furnace. He explained this work entailed approximately 72 welds on various parts of the piping which leads from the top of the furnace. He estimated work of this type would cost in the vicinity of $5,000 to $6,000.

“The only problem we had is that this header piece… was rusted out and it was getting really bad, it was really ripe and that had to be done,” Boudreau said.

Photo by Jake Boudrot
Volunteers have been busy repairing the headers on the furnace serving Our Lady of Assomption Church in Arichat.

Before undertaking this work, Boudreau said the ventilation was checked throughout the church, and contrary to an engineer’s report which recommended removing all pipes, it was determined the pipes were in good condition.

“The rest of the pipes all through the church, we got a machine from Nova Scotia Power,” Boudreau recalled. “Eddie Rideout came through and he tested every pipe, the thickness, the top, the bottom, the sides. The pipes are okay, all through the church, no problems.”

Boudreau said humidity problems previously cited by the engineer were also identified and addressed.

“We had some for a while and we solved them,” Boudreau said. “The humidity problem we had was one of our radiators was leaking and the steam was going into the attic.

“Then the engineers came from Antigonish and didn’t catch that. They told us we had to vent that and they were giving us a bill that was scary.”

Aside from the tireless work of Samson and Martell, Boudreau pointed out the project received support from AFL Tanks which provided a portable welding machine, a package of welding rods, and even filled a gas tank for them. HBJ Contractors then brought the portable welder to the church and Andre Boudreau was instrumental in gathering up the construction material needed for the job.

Armed with encouraging support from the community, including a $25,000 individual donation, Boudreau is confident the group can attain their fundraising goals and do the work needed to the structure. Despite this help, the Friends will still have to pay for some project costs and their fundraising efforts are ongoing.

“It’s a community effort,” Boudreau stated.

“The fact we have two men that are willing to do it, that volunteered to do it, it’s a big thing.”

Boudreau said there are plans to repair a corner of the foundation, upgrade the front steps and do some ditching around the church. The Friends are also considering more upgrades to the structure and surrounding property.

“For us it’s a tourism package too, it’s a part of the tourism thing for Isle Madame and for Richmond County,” Boudreau said. “We have ideas how to grow it out.”

Boudreau added that the Friends want the community to know that the church belongs to them.

“The doors are open and everbody is welcome,” Boudreau added. “It is their church.

“They need to know that the two churches on the island.., are their churches and it is the people that make the churches…”