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From: Copy from CTV Canadian News
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Updated Wed. Dec. 25 2002 1:41 PM ET
Canadian churches cut back on Christmas masses Click Here For...
CFCF News: Priest shortage worries many in Montreal 1:47
CTV News Staff Some
Catholic churches in Canada are being forced to reduce the number of masses they celebrate this Christmas, due to a shortage of priests.
Across Canada, there are fewer than 10,000 ordained priests, down from 15,000 about 30 years ago, and it appears as though the number will continue to decline.
The number of seminarians studying for the priesthood has declined during that same time, from 2,600 to 550. ] Montreal's largest seminary is graduating fewer and fewer priests each year. "In 1964, when I got in first there, were 250 students," Father Marcel Demers told CFCF News. "And now there are 32."Demers says the decline is no surprise.
Among the reasons he cites: Smaller families, less devotion toward organized religion and the lifetime commitment that is required of priests." For many people it's the same thing for marriage," Demers said.
"They don't marry because they don't want to be engaged for their whole life. They don't become priests for the same reason.
"Some observers in Canada say the English parishes are well-served by priests, but the French-language churches are suffering a more acute shortage of leadership.
This year, as a temporary solution, some retired priests are being pressed into service for Christmas masses. And Demers says the declining number of priests may be just a temporary problem.
"It's a challenge for us to invent new ways of speaking of the priesthood to young people and the whole church has to discover new ways of exercising that ministry."