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Attendance is dropping at Catholic churches in Eastern Ontario and church officials are responding by launching a public consultation process that aims to identify why people are leaving. (Photo: Tara Kirkpatrick)

United Church joins public consultation on religion

A protestant church has decided to join the public consultation on the future of religion, which was originally organized by six French Catholic churches in the region.

On October 26, more than 30 people participated in a public meeting with the French Roman Catholic Parish of Ste-Anne de Prescott  and the East Hawkesbury United Church. The meeting took place at the Centre d’Action community centre.

The original Catholic questionnaire was modified, in a local English version, to include the United Church.

The public meeting focused on the role the churches play in the Ste-Anne area. This included discussions on how people express faith and spirituality in the modern age.

“Ste-Anne is a small community, so we all have to pull together, French and English, Protestant and Catholic,” said Neil Fraser, clerk of session of the East Hawkesbury United Church. “People from both groups sit on committees like Antique Day and everybody gets along pretty well. So when we heard the Roman Catholic Church was going to consult people on their spiritual life and how they want to live their religion, it just made sense to join in. Let’s face it, all of the churches face similar issues,” said Fraser.

Louis Brunet, co-chair of the Catholic parish committee, remembers “when we had a fundraising drive to restore the artwork on the ceiling of our church, the United Church invited us to sell baked goods at their Christmas concert and keep the proceeds. When we have a funeral, lots of them come to support our families and we do the same for them. So we have a history of good relations,” said Brunet.

The questionnaire on spiritual and religious life, designed mainly for French Catholics, is available online at www.brunetsherwood.ca

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