Montreal’s community of English-speaking practising Catholics has shrunk to the point that 14 of the Archdiocese’s 34 parishes could face eventual closure barring an unexpected turnaround in fortunes, according to The Catholic Register.
“I wouldn’t say the glass is empty, there are resources we can tap, we just have to figure a way to turn on the tap,” Bishop Thomas Dowd said.
"The Lord needs a lot of parishes, but realistically, he doesn’t need a lot of buildings. Finances are a real distraction. Given the demographics we can perhaps sustain 20 parishes. At the moment there are 34.”
Although Montreal has 201,760 registered English-speaking Catholics, only about five percent attend Mass on any given Sunday. Only 18 parishes have a priest they can call their own.
Bishop Dowd said there are 141,230 English-speaking Catholics who “don’t participate at all.”
Of Montreal’s 34 English parishes, 11 are having problems meeting their expenses, he said. Several other parishes cannot afford to pay their priest.
“We have two choices. We either close churches or respond to dynamics of viability,” he said.
“Middle-class income Catholics here put one cent of every dollar they earn in the collection plate. If the average donation of those who go to Mass rose by even one percent, almost all of our financial problems would be resolved.”
Photo: Montreal Bishop Thomas Dowd (Alan Hustak)