N.B. Catholic churches face merger possibility
The shrinking number of parishioners in the Moncton area could cause some of southeastern New Brunswick's Catholic churches to amalgamate.
Donald Langis, the pastoral co-ordinator with the Moncton Archdiocese, said the Catholic church in greater Moncton is facing some hard choices in the coming years.
This week, the archdiocese announced it was postponing a fundraising campaign for the Assumption Cathedral, which is in need of $8 million in repairs.
With the fundraising plans on hold until next March, the archdiocese will be looking at ways of improving the overall situation of Catholic churches in the Moncton area.
"When you consider that you have quite a few churches that will have one mass on Sunday, you really have to ask yourself some questions. And financially, it is very difficult for quite a few parishes to keep on going," Langis said.
The Assumption Cathedral is more than a house of worship for many Acadians in southeastern New Brunswick.
It is also a cultural landmark, completed in the late 1930s, a symbol of the resilience of the community.
Now it needs a significant amount of repairs and many thousands of dollars more every year for regular maintenance.
Langis said with the local parish shrinking from about 1,000 churchgoing families to 300 over the years it will be difficult to raise the required amount of money.
And, Langis said, that problem is raising questions about the future of the building.
"I hear people all the time tell me, when I come to Moncton, that's the first building I see," Langis said.
"But at the same time, skylines can change."
Other churches in trouble
Langis said the cathedral is certainly not unique in its trouble with dwindling congregations.
There are 16 parishes in Moncton and they all face prospects of declining attendance and the likelihood of future amalgamations or closures.
Instead of ignoring the reality, Langis said the church should use it to make some changes, including more community outreach.
"We can have all sorts of campaigns to save all sorts of buildings," Langis said.
"But if we have nobody in those buildings, we have a major problem."
Meanwhile, Langis said the archdiocese will do everything it can to help keep the Assumption Cathedral but he said its future rests with its parishioners and anybody else who wants to see the landmark preserved.