Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 15, 1999
Northern dioceses may get more resources from South
By GLEN ARGAN
A possible realignment of Canadian dioceses could mean more resources for the Catholic Church in the North.
Priest-strapped northern dioceses could receive more personnel and money from their southern counterparts if realignment goes ahead.
The Canadian bishops are currently studying changes which, while not altering the boundaries of existing dioceses, would alter the composition of "ecclesiastical provinces."
For example, the Edmonton "province" now includes the Edmonton Archdiocese as the metropolitan see and the St. Paul and Calgary dioceses as suffragan dioceses.
Realignment could add Grouard-McLennan (today an archdiocese) and possibly the massive Mackenzie-Fort Smith Diocese.
The two other current suffragan dioceses of Grouard-McLennan - Prince George and Whitehorse - would become part of the Vancouver province.
"It would create an awareness in the southern dioceses to come to the aid of the North," said Bishop Blaise Morand of Prince Albert, Sask., president of the Western bishops' conference.
Southern dioceses in each province could be encouraged to provide personnel - both clergy and religious - and finances to their northern dioceses, said Morand.
"It won't mean a sudden flood of help going to the North" because southern dioceses also face priest shortages, he said.
Abbot Peter Novecosky of Muenster, Sask., said southern dioceses or parishes may choose to support a northern parish for 10 or 15 years.
Currently, the Saskatoon Diocese is providing support to the Keewatin-Le Pas Archdiocese in northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan, he said.
Financial support for northern dioceses has already been transferred to the Canadian church from the Vatican, Novecosky said.
That's because those dioceses are no longer considered missionary dioceses by Rome, he noted. In the future, bishops for those dioceses may not always be Oblates of Mary Immaculate - a missionary order - as they have in the past.