The future of parishes
The history of the Catholic Church in the Gatineau region was marked by a long period of expansion: creation of many parishes following demographic trends; foundation of education and health institutions; arrival of men’s and women’s religious communities dedicated to teaching and spiritual accompaniment. The beginning of the Quiet Revolution coincided with the apex of this development. The nationalization of hospitals and schools, accompanied by a decline in the number of priests and nuns, brought about the increasing secularisation of these institutions, now led by lay men and women. The decreasing number of priests was accompanied by a decreasing number of people attending church on a regular basis. We built churches not so long ago; now, we have to close some down.
What is the future of our parishes? Or, to make the question more dramatic, what is the future of MY parish? This age-old institution embodies, for many people, a very personal story, interwoven by many intimate relationships, joyful and fraternal collaborations, important events, and meaningful celebrations. Being forced to leave the parish that we’ve known for so long is like having to leave the house where we raised our children: you can’t do it without it breaking your heart.
However, behind this difficult reality, there is an even more dramatic question: is the disappearance of our churches a sign that the Church itself is dying in our region? Is not the closing of a parish church a sign of the erosion of our Christian communities themselves, their dissolution and their slow degeneration? We must face the question: what is the future of our parishes? However, a more fundamental question needs to be raised: what is the future of the Gospel among us?
Thus, we cannot truly discuss the question of the future of our parishes without taking on the question of evangelization, of the engendering of new Christians. Can our parishes become a place where someone can meet Christ, come to embrace his teachings and become his disciple?
This is the sense in which Pope Francis calls us to a pastoral and missionary conversion, where each member of the Church must become a true disciple-missionary. The future of my Church depends on me!
- Read what Pope Francis says in Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) concerning «pastoral and missionary conversions» and the future of our parishes (in particular, Chapter 1, and especially no. 28).
- Download the document by the Quebec bishops on the missionary shift of Christian communities.
- Participate in diocesan pastoral launches, where we discuss the future of our parishes.
- Read the report by the Diocesan Committee on the financial situation of our parishes.
- Download the text by the Canadian Bishops’ Doctrinal Commission: The Missionary Dynamic of the Parish Today
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