Newfoundland Church going through purification process

  • November 25, 2010
Archbishop Martin CurriesTORONTO - Despite the challenges of an aging population, high unemployment and Newfoundland’s Catholic Church recovering from a painful chapter in its history, Archbishop Martin Currie of St. John’s and of Grand Falls, Nfld., says there is an opportunity to evangelize communities in a province with deep Catholic roots.

“I believe with all that has gone on in the Church, in some way it’s part of the mystery of God. God is trying to purify the Church,”  said Currie, who has served as a bishop for 10 years and 42 years as a priest.  

“I think there will be better days ahead. We need to learn how to evangelize again.”

With three other bishops, Currie is on a Toronto-area speaking tour sponsored by Catholic Missions In Canada to raise awareness of mission dioceses in outlying areas of Canada. The bishop was a lunchtime speaker Nov. 18 at the Catholic Pastoral Centre in Toronto.

Currie estimates about 20 per cent of Newfoundlanders are still practising Catholics.  He said there is a plan to have catechesis online and train lay people to help minister to people, many of whom live in remote mission dioceses.

To aid in that ministry, Catholic Missions In Canada provides support by helping priests pay for food and gas. Some priests clock up to 50,000 kilometres on their cars to reach isolated parishes. Most priests in the area are responsible for several parishes and, in one case, a single priest oversaw 11 churches.

Newfoundlanders have been hit hard by changes in the fishing industry, with large fish plants replacing small fish farmers, Currie explained.

“There’s a certain sadness that a way of life is passing away,” he said. “They’re trying to work. They want to work but there’s no fish any more. The paper mills are gone.

“They’ll get through this. Newfoundlanders are a resilient people.”

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