Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 25, 2004
New era for Quebec Church
Ouellet: 2008 congress is chance for new evangelization
By JASON LANGE
Catholic News Service
Hosting the next International Eucharistic Congress will give Quebec a chance to begin a new period of evangelization and to reverse the trend of decreasing Mass attendance, said Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet.
Pope John Paul announced Oct. 17 that Quebec will be the site of the congress in 2008.
"We're going through a difficult time of secularization" in Canada, said Ouellet, who attended this year's congress Oct. 10-17 in Guadalajara. "For some decades now, people have even been abandoning Sunday Mass; we have been losing faithful. So there is a great need of evangelization."
Ouellet, former rector of St. Joseph Seminary in Edmonton, said he hopes holding the congress in Quebec will "awaken a new time, a new era." He said the Church would try to use the event to renew the region's catechetical program and raise awareness of the need for religious instruction in schools.
It is a daunting task, Ouellet said, and Guadalajara has set the bar high in terms of popular participation. More than 65,000 people filled the city's stadium for the closing of the congress, which had been attended by some 14,000 people, most of them Mexicans.
"The same enthusiasm around popular devotion to the Eucharist is not at the same level (in Quebec). It was 30 or 40 years ago, but maybe we can in the next four years intensify our preparation and re-evangelize our people," he said. "Quebec has provided missionary vocations for the whole world throughout the years, but now we need help."
Canada's bishops have agreed to provide pastoral and financial support for the event.
The congress will coincide with the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec and the 350th anniversary of Blessed Francois de Laval's appointment as Canada's first bishop.
The event may include a papal visit. Although Pope John Paul did not attend the congress in Guadalajara, over the past 30 years it has become traditional for the pope to celebrate the closing Mass.
Ouellet said the selection of Quebec to host the congress is due in part to the region's need for new evangelization. He added that the Quebec government also embraced the proposal because of the fourth centenary, and an important religious event was expected to accompany the year's celebrations.
Because the Catholic faith has played an important role in Quebec's history and culture, the cardinal said, the congress will be "an opportunity to recapture our roots, to tell our own people who we are."
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