Most of the churches in eastern New Brunswick that were in danger of closing are going to be able to survive at least a little bit longer, according to Archbishop Valery Vienneau. Last February, almost half of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Moncton’s parishes — 20 out of 53 — were singled out for their financial situations.
One of the churches has since been destroyed. St. Bartholomew’s parish in Bass River was the victim in a string of suspicious arsons, and there was no money to rebuild it.Of the 19 others, three will probably close within the next two years, according to the archbishop. Vienneau had been visiting the parishes that had been singled out for closure until last week, which included 16 French-language churches and three English ones. He said in most cases, both the parishioners and the volunteers are getting fewer, or older, and there is a lack of people and money for the church to sustain itself. Robert Bernard has been going to St. Timothy’s his entire life. He found out two months ago it was closing. The 85-year-old parishoner has a strong emotional attachment to the parish, and for him, going to another church is out of the question.
He lives a few houses down from the parish and walks there for mass, but said it would be too difficult for someone his age to drive as far as Moncton every weekend. “Still a lot of people feel the need to go to church, they believe in that all their life, and to take that away from them … it’s disgraceful,” he said.