The diocese of Mont-Laurier, northwest of Montreal, could disappear and its parishes be reattached to neighboring dioceses. The idea is under serious consideration by Pope Francis, who appointed an apostolic administrator in July 2019, Archbishop Paul-André Durocher, with instructions to prepare a study on the future of the diocese.
Spread out over 19,968 square kilometres, the diocese of Mont-Laurier, founded in 1913, governs 85,000 Catholics, or 89% of its inhabitants. It includes 35 communities, grouped into 15 parishes. But out of 38 priests in the diocese, approximately 20 are retired.
“With the drop in religious practice and the closing of numerous communities, especially in rural areas, it has become essential to re-examine the capacity of the region to function as a diocese.” A five-page document has been handed out throughout the diocese to explain the Holy See’s deliberations. Between January 17 and January 26, Archbishop Durocher has been travelling to the various parishes to meet with the faithful and ask for their input. As for the priests, they have already made their opinion clear, voting unanimously against dissolving the diocese. “We believe the diocese is financially viable for another ten years. Let us take the time to study the question thoroughly. Let a new bishop be appointed, and let us weigh the pros and cons with him,” they stated in a press release.
Since the 60s, the Church in Quebec has experienced an unprecedented crisis that is forcing it today to re-examine its entire parish organization.