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Downsizing parishes.

Bathurst, N.B.--The small diocese of Bathurst recently illustrated the difficulties of downsizing parishes. Bishop Andre Richard ordered a halt to the Mass in English in the bilingual parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The reason for the switch to a French-only parish: the shortage of priests (30 priests for 62 parishes).

Some English-language parishioners refused to listen to the bishop and to reason, and insisted on "their" Mass in English despite meetings and explanations and the fact that three neighbouring parishes each have an English Mass, one of them only one kilometre away.

Front-page headlines ensured province-wide interest: "Parishioners fight to keep English Mass"(Moncton Times Transcript, May 3); "English Mass supporters in Bathurst ask Vatican envoy to reverse decision" (New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, June 11, '99), etc. But as an editorial in the Telegraph Journal pointed out (June 29), this was not a fight about language discrimination.

The bishop had the final word: the last English Mass in the 75-year-old parish was celebrated on June 20.
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 1, 1999
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