The Catholic church in Manitoba is experiencing a first. A shortage of priests is forcing it to close churches. Five catholic churches will be closed completely. Five more will have their services severely reduced.

Richard Osicki is director of communications with the Archdiocese of Winnipeg.

"Unlike other churches we're not seeing a decline in the number of people coming to our churches, quite the opposite," Osicki says. "The number of people attending catholic churches is increasing but we don't have the priests to serve them so we're having to make other arrangements."

Some of the other arrangements being made to compensate for the shortage of priests, include having priests serve more than one congregation, or having deacons or nuns perform some services.

Osicki says the decision to shut down churches was a hard one to make.

"People go to church because they feel comfortable there, they go to particular church because it's comfortable, it's kind of church they'd like to go to so obviously when you're closing the church, for a lot of people that hurts," Osicki says.

Osicki says some parishoners are having a hard time accepting their church is closing.

"If it's church you've been going to all your life if your family has lot of history with that church, weddings baptisms, holy communions funerals then for that church to close it is painful," Osicki

Osicki says the church is doing what it can to avoid closures, like having one priest serve two or more congregations. Or having deacons or nuns conduct services.

But he says the shortage of priests has made church closures a trend across North America.