Aging on many fronts force church closures

  • June 21, 2019

An almost 50-per-cent decline in Mass attendance since just after the turn of the century has led the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth to take drastic measures concerning little used churches on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. 

As of July 28-29, five parishes in the area will be closed and three that remain open will be combined into one new parish for the area.

Declining attendance, an aging congregation and extensive repairs needed to maintain the buildings are blamed for the restructuring, Archbishop Anthony Mancini told parishioners in a statement read at Masses June 16. 

He said the changes are needed as the archdiocese faces the realities facing many dioceses across the nation.

“While recognizing the drastic changes and profound sense of loss this course of action causes to individuals and to various levels of the community, I believe these measures are necessary to position the new parish with the realistic human and financial resources to carry on with the needed missionary actions for our times,” said Mancini in the statement.

The new parish will consist of three churches — St. Genevieve in East Chezzetcook, St. Denis in East Ship Harbour and St. Peter in Sheet Harbour — to be overseen by two priests. Closing will be St. Anselm in West Chezzetcook and its mission of St. Anne in Lake Echo, and the mission churches of St. Philip Neri (Musquodobit Harbour), St. Michael (Quoddy) and St. Martin in Tangier.

The eight parishes currently spend more than half of their funds on building maintenance and require an estimated $660,000 in repairs. While they can seat 1,600, total attendance in the region is less than 600 each weekend.

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