Attendance woes forcing churches to close in Eastern Canada
Published Sunday, May 7, 2017 10:15PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 8, 2017 9:50AM EDT
When it comes to church attendance on Sunday, there's more on the line than the souls of the faithful in Atlantic Canada. Many churches are shutting their doors for good in the region, as attendance dwindles amid changing attitudes and demographics.
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New Brunswick Catholics, for instance, are watching many of their community churches close due to lack of attendance. The diocese conducted a census of sorts among the remaining faithful last week, to determine how many were left – and how many churches they could keep open as a result.
Parishioner Raymond Laforge says it's a stressful situation.
"Whose church are they going to pick? I don't want my church to be picked to close," he said. "But somebody is going to have to close and who it's going to be, I don't know."
Most of the region's churches were built at a time when they were more central to family and community life, and when the collection plates were routinely filled with donations. But church officials acknowledge that simply isn't the case anymore.
"The status quo can't happen, because we can't afford it," Bishop Robert Harris of the Saint John Catholic Diocese said.
In Mahone Bay, N.S., three church communities have taken to combining their congregations to keep all three buildings open as long as possible.
"We're at a point right now where we have to think about how churches can exist differently," Mahone Bay pastor Adam Snook said.
Church attendance has been dropping across Canada, forcing many to close. The vacated buildings have been repurposed into homes and businesses.
Jewish synagogues have also paid the price for a decline in attendance. In Saint John, for instance, one historic synagogue was recently sold to a seafood company to be used as a head office.
Statistics Canada is slated to release its immigration and ethno-cultural diversity results from its 2016 census in October.
With a report from CTV's Todd Battis