Newfoundland Catholics bid farewell to parishes

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As the reality of the loss of their parishes becomes clear, Catholics in Newfoundland are feeling a wide range of emotions.

For many, a sense of tragedy is foremost, both for today’s parishioners who have lost their place of worship and for those whose suffering has led the Archdiocese of St. John’s to sell a number of properties. from the church.

During his last homily as a celebrant at St. Agnes Parish in Pouch Cove, Newfoundland, on September 18, Rev. Fr. Paul Lundrigan said he wanted to “speak spontaneously” about the reality of the situation.

“I wanted to acknowledge that we have gone through a real tragedy because of bad choices made years ago for decades. We are now suffering the consequences many years later,” Lundrigan said, referring to the sexual abuse that took place at Mount Cashel orphanage, run by the Christian Brothers of Ireland, which left the archdiocese on the hook for victim compensation.

“Everyone thinks the same about compensating victims of abuse, even though it happened before many worshipers were born – or when they were very young children. As a family, we take care of our own. These victims are ours.

However, this pain has now spread beyond the victims.

“All of our parishioners feel this, but they still feel pain because losing their parish is like losing a sense of identity. There is anger at Church leaders for choices made long ago, and the fact that they had little or no say in what happened to their properties when all of this collapsed.

St. Agnes along with St. Pius X Parish in St. John’s were among the Catholic churches in Newfoundland that celebrated their last masses in September when the buildings were sold to pay for repairs to Mount Cashel survivors who were abused in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.

In mid-July, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador finally approved the sale of 43 properties that the Archdiocese put up for sale after being found vicariously liable for the debts of the Christian Brethren, which were put out of business by the original settlement, after the bids were submitted. At the beginning of June.

Lundrigan, who also served at St. Michael’s Parish in Flatrock, spoke with The Catholic Register about the transition many Catholics in Newfoundland are undergoing as they assimilate into a new congregation. Lundrigan, ready to minister to Holy Trinity parish in Torbay in the future, did not mince words.

“The (change) will be very difficult. I think it will succeed over time, but there are always adjustments to be made. Your congregational experience is like a family. Two people who choose to establish a relationship, each already having children, decide to move in together and build a new house hoping that it will work out,” he said.

“There’s a dynamic in every family, so it will take time to adjust, for people to find a place in the new community setting.”

Prof. John Sullivan, the pastor of Pius X, spoke to CBC about the “anger, sadness and sense of helplessness” his congregation – and other Catholics in Newfoundland – have experienced over the course of the past year, while acknowledging the “suffering and pain and hurt and damage suffered by victims of abuse.

“So it’s always been there,” he said. “Furthermore, there is a prayer for the victims and also for healing, even more healing, to happen for them through this process.”

The strong emotions experienced across the province due to this seismic realignment dissuaded the Archbishop of St. John’s, Peter Hundt, from accepting any media interviews. Hundt issued a statement to The register beginning of September explaining his reasoning.

“The sale of churches and the corresponding merger of parishes is a painful and emotional process for all the people and clergy of the Archdiocese. It is accompanied by feelings of anger, loss, sadness and, for some people, sometimes even a feeling of hopelessness. Out of respect for parishioners and priests dealing with these feelings and emotions, we will be declining all media requests for video and audio interviews at this time. »

Meanwhile, on September 13, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador approved the sale of Mary Queen of the World Parish in Mount Pearl to Calvary Baptist Church. The Mary Queen of the World community will leave the building after the final Mass on October 2.

The parishioners are about to join the neighboring parish of Saint-Pierre. Prof. Wayne Dohey, who has served as a priest for both Mary, Queen of the World and St. Peter’s, said there are plans to change the name of St. Peter’s to signify a new beginning.

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