Fate of churches is in our hands

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

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

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