Catholic church struggles to rebuild congregations

The Diocese of Sault Ste Marie is launching a new project to combat problem of aging and dwindling congregation.

Churches in the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie to embark on project to make Catholic faith relevant in today's society

The Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie is launching a new project to help curb the problem of declining congregation numbers.

A two-year program will start next year to attract new members to the Catholic church.

Next year, the diocese will launch a new program called "Arise together in Christ" - a project that makes direct ties between everyday life and scriptural teachings.

In the 25 years since Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe stepped into his role as bishop at the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie, he's closed 25 of the diocese’s churches in the north — a total of seven in the past year.

Bishop Plouffe said it's time for the church to be more relevant and get people back into church pews.

"We really have to really keep on understanding the culture today," he said.

This is something evangelical churches in Sudbury have been doing for years, including All Nations Church, which is led by Pastor Jeremy Mahood.

"People want to know ‘how is this God or how is this bible relevant to my everyday life’," Mahood said.

Sudbury All Nations Church Pastor Jeremy Mahood is all smiles as he watches an environmentally friendly roof being raised on his congregation's new church. Click on the CBC audio link for the full interview. (Jen Norwell/CBC)

The pastor recently stood in the middle of a construction zone to watch workers secure the roof of the church's new building.

His congregation is swelling — 12 years ago All Nations outgrew its old church. And the congregation is still growing.

Mahood said All Nation’s success has been about aligning with the culture and the changing of society.

This is something Bishop Plouffe said the Catholic Church needs to adopt.

"The challenge before us is to reach out, so that [people] have a chance to find the place where they feel they can call [it] their spiritual family," he said. "Or they can call [the church] ‘home,’ spiritually speaking."