The Diocese of Antigonish says it's moving ahead with a five year plan for church renewal.

About 300 people from every parish around the diocese gathered in Membertou this week to endorse the plan.

David Nearing from Reserve Cape Breton helped organize the event. 

He said the conference is a response to various issues: a decline in church attendance and the number of priests, the closure of churches and sexual abuse legal settlements against clergy.

The diocese also did a survey to find out what people see as their priorities for the church.

"The first one would be the revitalization of parishes and the revitalization of the dioceses itself," said Nearing.

Bishop Brian Dunn said long standing issues such as the ordination of women, celibacy for priests, and exclusion from the Eucharist for divorced and remarried people were also discussed.

"There's a whole groundswell of support for that; there's also another group of people who wouldn't be supportive of even looking at it at all," he said. "But I hear their concern, I hear their concern for fidelity to the teaching of the church so those are very important concerns for them and I hear those as well."

Dunn said he will bring all of those concerns to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and to the appropriate office at the Vatican.

Irene LeForte of Antigonish said getting together with a large group of dedicated people has given her confidence in the future.

"The will and the ability to rebuild our church in the Diocese of Antigonish, very evident here."

A committee will be appointed by Dunn to make sure the plan is carried out.