December 6, 2010
Archbishop Martin Currie

Archbishop Martin Currie

SHEILA DABU NONATO
THE CATHOLIC REGISTER

TORONTO — Despite serious challenges to the Church in Newfoundland, Archbishop Martin Currie says there is an opportunity to evangelize communities in a province with deep Catholic roots.

“I believe with all that has gone on in the Church, in some way it’s part of the mystery of God.

“God is trying to purify the Church,” said Currie.

“I think there will be better days ahead. We need to learn how to evangelize again.”

With three other bishops, Currie is on a Toronto-area speaking tour sponsored by Catholic Missions In Canada to raise awareness of Canadian mission dioceses.

Currie, archbishop of St. John’s and of Grand Falls, says an aging population, high unemployment and the legacy of the sexual abuse crisis are major challenges for the Church.

TWENTY-PERCENT PRACTICE

About 20 per cent of Newfoundlanders are still practising Catholics, he said.

Planned online catechesis and training for lay people will help them develop ministry to those who live in remote areas, he said.

To aid in that ministry, Catholic Missions In Canada provides support by helping priests pay for food and gas.

Some priests clock up to 50,000 km on their cars to reach isolated parishes. Most priests are responsible for several parishes and, in one case, a single priest oversaw 11 churches.

Newfoundlanders have been hit hard by changes in the fishing industry, with large fish plants replacing small fish farmers, Currie explained.

“There’s a certain sadness that a way of life is passing away,” he said. “They’re trying to work.

“They want to work but there’s no fish any more. The paper mills are gone.

“They’ll get through this.

Newfoundlanders are a resilient people.”