Quebec conundrum

By  Catherine Farrell, Catholic Register YSN
  • October 13, 2006
Being a Catholic in Quebec is definitely not easy, but being a young Catholic in Quebec is even harder — or at least that’s how it seems. As a young practising Catholic, I can honestly say that I’ve struggled to maintain my faith.

I go to Mass every Sunday with my family, and it is rare I see other people between the ages of 15 and 25. There are a handful of young people who attend, but I personally know that many sleep through the Mass or don’t come because they are on holiday at their country home or they are playing some sport instead.

No one I know at school goes to Mass or even thinks about going to Mass and probably would think I’m some kind of extremist for going.

There have been times in class when the teacher has spoken ill of the church, and of the Pope in particular, and other students have nodded in agreement. I get really angry, but I have to admit that I have not spoken up.

On the one hand, I feel that if I responded out of anger, I would not be able to communicate my ideas clearly and therefore misrepresent the faith. On the other hand — which is far more humiliating — I have simply been afraid that my teachers and peers would hold it against me because I’m the only one that feels that way.  

Sometimes a teacher will say something, and I begin to question what I already know. It's not easy when a person of authority shoots down everything I've learned at home.

In the end, I always end up believing what I originally believed, but more profoundly. The sad thing is that most people will believe what they hear without really thinking about it.

It’s very difficult to hear my peers at school say things like: “Yes! The Christians bite the dust again!”  or “The Pope is such a moron to say things like that.” These comments make me feel like telling the person to stop talking, let him know that he’s not very bright and that he should do a little research.

In all fairness, not everyone at my school is Catholic. I can’t blame them for not understanding, but at the same time, they shouldn’t talk about things they don’t understand. I know next to nothing about Islam and I’m willing to admit that. Others apparently don’t feel that way when they begin talking about Catholicism.

In Quebec, the situation with the French community is more or less the same as in the English community. I risk generalizing, but from my own personal observations, there is quite a lot of hostility towards Catholicism coming from the French community that is more personal than that of the English community. But one thing I know for certain is that French churches are just as empty as the English churches.

Thankfully, I have a pretty strong Catholic base at home. My parents are devout Catholics who seem to have an excellent grasp of what the faith is all about. We have other family members and close friends who are ready and willing to help clarify things for me. My friends, who may not be practising, are still supportive and willing to talk about anything I have on my mind. I’ve been lucky.

(Farrell is a first-year student at Dawson College in Montreal.)

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