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Church in state! Lebanese cathedral on Remsen needs help

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Brooklyn Heights’ own Notre Dame is in line for a multi-year makeover of Biblical proportions.

Father James Root of Our Lady of Lebanon Catholic Cathedral, which is the seat of the country’s entire 100,000-member Maronite Christian community, is helping spearhead a campaign to raise funds to restore the 165-year old edifice on Remsen Street.

“We need about $3 million,” said Root, noting that the church has not undergone any major restoration in recent memory. “The stained glass needs to be cleaned, the pipe organ needs to be rebuilt, and we’d like to install air conditioni­ng.”

Root led The Brooklyn Paper on a survey of the building, proudly showing off historical artifacts, such as marble tiles from the French and Lebanese pavilions at the 1939 World’s Fair, and massive bronze medallions taken from the 1930s French luxury liner Normandie that are possibly the building’s most recognizable exterior features.

But he also interrupted himself to point out several spots in need of repair.

“Here’s some water damage from the bell tower,” said Root. “And here’s a piece of marble that I am very afraid could fall off the wall. The sidewalks are also terrible.”

The Maronite faith dates back to early fifth-century Lebanon, and its members constituted a majority of the population of Lebanon until the mid-20th century.

Members of the roughly 2,000-person congregation met last Tuesday night to discuss fundraising plans, which will include seeking donations from churchgoers and a Lebanese food festival on May 29–31.

The work, once it is begun, could take three to four years, estimates Root, but plans have already been set in motion.

“We’ve started getting permits, and an architectural firm has been hired,” he said.

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