Fate of churches is in our hands
The Editor, It’s not only our schools that are threatened by our shrinking numbers -- especially children, but also our village stores and churches. The unique social life and sense of neighbourhood that they provided are disappearing.
There has been a Catholic and/or Protestant church in almost every village in Glengarry, and they have been important centres of community and culture. In the past year there is a new crisis for the Catholic churches: there is no Bishop for our section of the church, our “diocese,” which covers Glengarry and Stormont. Archbishop Prendergast of Ottawa archdiocese has acted as our administrator and link to Rome. Now a decision has to be made: Do we remain the separate little diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall or should we be merged with the diocese of Ottawa? Archbishop Prendergast wants us all to contribute to the decision-making. He has set up a series of five “town-hall” type consultations or meetings throughout the diocese over the next six weeks, in English, in French, and bilingual. They are open to everyone in the diocese. What can we say? We like being in our small diocese, where we can get to know the other parishes (25) and all the priests (only 16) and even the deacons (15). Right now, the churches at St. Raphael’s and Glen Nevis have no priest to offer the Mass. They are saying special prayers together for nine days (a ‘Novena’) asking God for a priest. If we merge with Ottawa, they’ll probably be given a priest. But Ottawa is too far away for us to get to know the leaders of the diocese, and too far to take part in services in the magnificent cathedral there. We love our own beautiful cathedrals here, (St. Finnan’s and Nativité) and we can listen and even speak to our Bishop if we go for special occasions. But it is expensive to run a diocese that has to communicate with Rome, and so on. These are just a few of the considerations we must discuss at our meetings.
One good suggestion, is that we merge with Ottawa, but be given a Bishop who is an Auxiliary Bishop to Ottawa diocese, who would live in Cornwall and be in charge of our section of the Ottawa diocese. He would act as our Bishop, confirm our children, and preside at the great liturgies (services) of the big feasts. He would make decisions and give permissions as our Bishop, and we would get to know him, and he, us. He would not have to communicate with Rome, just Ottawa. This is something to discuss at our “town-hall” meeting with Archbishop Prendergast. He has invited us warmly, to come and contribute our ideas and opinions and desires.
Moira van Nooten, Alexandria