Over the past few months, the apostolic administrator for the diocese, Bishop Terrence Prendergast, has held meetings with the leaders of the three parishes of Kapuskasing and the parish of Mattice-Val Côté to discuss their future.
Bishop Prendergast has led the diocese since November 2020, since the resignation of Bishop Robert Bourgon.
He says he is initiating these discussions before the appointment of a new bishop, which could take place this summer, and stresses that the latter will make decisions regarding parishes, in consultation with parishioners and parish priests.
One of the consequences of the pandemic is the reduction in the presence of the faithful in the church. It means that there is a decrease in incomehe said, recalling that the parishes must assume the expenses for the priests and the churches.
In Kapuskasing, Bishop Prendergast met jointly with representatives of the French-speaking Immaculée-Conception and Notre-Dame des Victoires parishes, as well as those of the only English-speaking Catholic parish in the diocese, St. Patrick.
He says he asked if we really needed three churches and three parishes in this community.
” For example, can the English-speaking faithful be served by bilingual priests in one of the other parishes. »
He highlights the financial challenges facing St. Patrick’s Parish.
In the case of the parish of St-François-Xavier in Mattice, Bishop Prendergast estimates that the closure of the parish and the church would be the last solution considered, while the faithful would have to travel about thirty kilometers to Hearst. .
However, he points out that few people contribute directly to the parish.
The parish of Mattice-Val Côté shares a priest with the parish of Saint-Nom-de-Jésus in Hornepayne. It therefore travels between the two communities, a journey of approximately 160 km.
With the increase in the price of gasoline, it costs moresays Bishop Prendergast.
A parishioner of St. Patrick in Kapuskasing, Suzanne Plourde, indeed notes that the pandemic has led to a decrease in church attendance.
She thinks it’s
a luxury to have three parishes in Kapuskasing for a population now below 8,000 people.
She believes that one day it will be necessary to merge the parishes.
” It is difficult to make this decision because we all love our parishes and everyone has worked hard to keep them. »
I think the answer at the end will be to close two parishes and we will all be in one building. Which one will it be? I do not know. Everybody wants this to be their buildingshe adds
For their part, residents of the small community of Mattice-Val Côté want the parish of St-François-Xavier to be maintained.
It survives largely through fundraising activities presented by volunteers and also through contributions from a national organization, Catholic Missions in Canada.
In order to reduce expenses, the parish administrator, Rosanne Nolet, proposes to no longer have a resident priest.
What we would like to have is a priest who comes to say mass. We would pay for his mileage and we would pay for the ministry that he comes to doshe points out.
The mayor of the municipality of Mattice-Val Côté, Marc Dupuis, wrote a letter to Bishop Prendergast to emphasize that the residents want to keep their church and to consider a reduction in expenses.
It is certain that we do not want it to close. It is a meeting place. A community without a parish is difficult. I have experienced it before. It’s hard for everyonehe said
In Kapuskasing, discussions between representatives of the various parishes are to resume in September.
Bishop Prendergast believes that the next bishop may also want to examine the situation in other parishes of the diocese, such as Smooth Rock Falls, Gogama and Foleyet, with local representatives.
Several parishes and churches in the diocese have been closed for fifteen years.
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