Friday, January 08, 2010

Possible church closures

Regarding this article.

I hate to see this happen, but there is no doubt that church closures will have to happen in my home province. Priest enrollments are down, people are dissatisfied with the ways of the Catholic church, and fewer people are attending services. Everyone has the right to choose if or how they worship. It seems as though a lot of people just don't care about church or religion, and that is their choice.

What bothers me are those who seem to make it a seasonal event. If you go at Christmas, Easter, and insist that your wedding or funeral be held at a particular church, why aren't you there the rest of the time? Is it truly *that* hard to attend weekly, or even monthly? I'm not even talking from a totally religious perspective -- churches need money. If you want this building, this institution, to remain available for you, then you need to contribute more than a few times/year. I am not trying to single anyone out in particular. I am just concerned by the seeming indifference by some people that the church will always be there when they need it. I have heard stories of demanding brides and families over weddings and funerals. Some act as though the church and priest must bend over backward to appease their every whim. The priest is going to be much more accommodating to a parishioner with whom he is familiar, and who contributes to the community, whether it be financially or volunteer activity, etc.

The Catholic church is rich. My local church is not. Are we suddenly going to see the Vatican sell off its riches and dole the proceeds out to the local communities? Not likely. Therefore, it's up to the parishioners of a church to contribute time/money/etc. to keep their church alive, both spiritually and structurally. My church recently asked its members for an additional $2/week to help cover a new rent payment we must make for our rectory/office space. Do I sit back and whine about how much gold is at the Vatican? I can, but that doesn't solve the problem.

I can see the writing on the wall when it comes to possible closures. We have had at least two bishops over recent history who have done nothing to address the problem. We simply have too many buildings compared to demand, and demand doesn't appear to be increasing anytime soon. It makes financial sense that some buildings will have to be shut down and combined with others.

My church is one that I would assume to be on the chopping block. It was built in the 1880s, and requires a lot of maintenance that we can't afford. We're not currently making our operating budget. In this area of the city, there is another church that is only 50 years old, and large enough to accommodate both congregations. There is a third church, the smallest of the three, that remains open despite having a very small congregation. Realistically, we can only support one church in this area, not three, but no one has been brave enough to take action. I would hate to see my church go. I am attached to the building, the organ, the feel. I know it makes sense that we should all go to the newer church and close the other two, but it's a hard pill to swallow.

The harsh reality is that people are moving away from the church/organized religion. We can't keep ignoring it, we have to do something to stem the monetary bleeding. I hope my financial and volunteer contributions can help my church stay afloat and open for people. If you want to keep the doors open too, you need to help more than a few times per year.

1 comment:

John said...

Realistically, they should close the smallest church first, and make that congregation choose between your church and the bigger church. That might be enough extra people per church two churches to stem the tide.

Then, down the road, make the determination if another church needs to go.

Hopefully the town of Saint John would mark your church at leas as a landmark for its age, and keep the possibility of using the building alive.