Parish merger gets Pope’s bless­ing

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON News Staff

A lit­tle more than a year after he started con­sult­ing with lo­cal Catholics to get their views on a po­ten­tial merger be­tween the Alexandria-Corn­wall Dio­cese and the Arch­dio­cese of Corn­wall, Arch­bishop Ter­rence Pren­der­gast says that the two will be united “in the per­son of the bishop.”

Bishop Pren­der­gast spoke to the me­dia briefly on Sun­day morn­ing at St. Fin­nan’s Cathe­dral in Alexandria, where he was over­see­ing the con­fir­ma­tion of sev­eral Grade 2 stu­dents from St. Fin­nan’s and Iona Academy. He said that the de­ci­sion came from Rome and that he is no longer the Apos­tolic Ad­min­stra­tor if the Dio­cese of Alexandria-Corn­wall; now he’s its bishop. A sec­ond Aux­il­iary Bishop will be ap­pointed to as­sist specif­i­cally with the Alexan­dri­aCorn­wall ter­ri­tory.

“I rec­og­nize that this de­ci­sion will not sat­isfy ev­ery­one and that some peo­ple may be up­set,” the new bishop said. “How­ever, it is my hope that this de­ci­sion will ul­ti­mately

con­trib­ute to the cre­ation of vi­brant faith com­mu­ni­ties in Alexandria-Corn­wall, which will be evan­ge­liz­ing pres­ences in our midst.” In­deed, one of the most com­mon com­plaints about merg­ing the two dio­ce­ses would be that the one in Alexan­dri­aCorn­wall would lose its bishop. At a pub­lic meet­ing held at St. Francis of Sales Church in Corn­wall in April of 2017, sev­eral area Catholic pushed for this very thing. One went so far as to say that the shepherd should “live among the sheep, not from a dis­tance.”

Ron Eamer, a Wil­liamstown res­i­dent who is also vice-chair­man of the Catholic District School Board of Eastern On­tario, was also in favour of this. Last April, he li­on­ized Bishop Mar­cel Dam­p­housse (who was trans­ferred to Sault Ste. Marie in 2015) and his pre­de­ces­sor, Bishop Paul-An­dré Durocher, for their vis­i­bil­ity through­out area schools.

Reached on Mon­day morn­ing, Mr. Eamer said that the de­ci­sion has been made and that lo­cal Catholics should ac­cept it.

“I felt, as a lot of peo­ple did, that it would be bet­ter to have a lo­cal bishop,” he said. “When an Aux­il­iary Bishop is ap­pointed, things should go well. I think it’s the de­ci­sion that had to be made and that ev­ery­one will un­der­stand.”

In any case, the arch­bishop says that most of the re­ac­tion has been pos­i­tive and that he’s re­ceived emails from sev­eral priests who say they’re happy with the an­nounce­ment.

When asked if he can ad­e­quately serve the Catholics in two dio­ce­ses at the same time, he said “I’ve been do­ing that for two years.”

Bishop Pren­der­gast said that Rome’s de­ci­sion is just ad­just­ing to the way so­ci­ety is chang­ing. A lot has changed since the Dio­cese of Alexandria (Corn­wall was not added to the name un­til 1976) was cre­ated by the Vat­i­can in Jan­uary of 1890. Farms are get­ting big­ger, ru­ral pop­u­la­tions are get­ting smaller, and the num­ber of peo­ple at­tend­ing Sun­day Mass is shrink­ing.

An April 30 press re­lease says that “as the uni­fi­ca­tion of dio­ce­ses is ex­tremely rare, the tran­si­tion pe­riod will take some time as plans are elab­o­rated to ef­fect the change.”

STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON PHOTO

NEW BISHOP: Arch­bishop Ter­rence Pren­der­gast, seen here at St. Fin­nan’s Cathe­dral in Alexandria Sun­day, is the new bishop of the Alexandria-Corn­wall Dio­cese.

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