At a time when THE recovery is almost improvised, we must resiliently recover physically, psychologically, emotionally, and economically from this difficult period. After the anxious calm of the confinement comes the time to nervously get back on a path never before taken by the players in the health, educational, community, and religious sectors. Never before have we needed so much faith in ourselves and in what surrounds us. Never before have we needed to relate to something bigger and stronger than us. This ” something “, whatever it may be, will hopefully allow us to reinvent ourselves not make the same mistakes, for our personal and the common good.
- Virtual recollection
The demonstration is made, the places of worship being temporarily inaccessible, different churches had to adapt by adopting a new method of reflection and recollection. For example, on Easter Sunday, more than 17,000 believers virtually gathered in the comfort of their homes to attend the Mass by Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix of the Archdiocese of Quebec.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, celebrations have multiplied and new means are deployed so that all can be in contact and can interact almost instantly even in their spiritual quest.
Imagine if, at every opportunity to connect, we were offered (with discernment and grace) the possibility of making an offering commensurate with our means to show our gratitude to the Church and enabling it to adapt and reinvent itself.
Every gesture counts and, in an emergency, every token of gratitude is important.
- Parishes must also adapt and demonstrate their creativity
While the parishes were already struggling with major financial issues, the COVID-19 pandemic only accentuates the urgency of finding permanent solutions to the challenge posed by the recurrent funding of maintaining religious institutions. Under the banner of built heritage preservation, many parishioners, members of the parish councils and parish priests are faced with problems resulting from a drastic drop in their annual and weekly income. Faced with the sudden absence of participants in the Sunday Masses gathering, the income generated by Per Capita Tax and offering, many will be forced to abandon while others will fight vigorously to preserve their place of worship.
- Transforming a challenge into an opportunity
We, at BNP Philanthropic performance, have long believed that dioceses and parishes must reinvent themselves, modernize their philanthropic methods to integrate databases, monthly or weekly donations and various forms of online contributions. We also believe that places of worship should once again become the community places they once represented.
Indeed, if this gathering place, newly closed because of the risk of the spread of a virus, were to take advantage of the opportunity for a makeover and become a place that promotes art, culture, and allows the whole community to marvel and appreciate once again the unique and solemn character of these majestic spaces steeped in our history.
- From social mission to social innovation
In Canada, if the trend continues, more than 9,000 churches will have to close their doors. More than 700 churches have already seen their vocation change and have been converted into community centers. While it would be difficult to find funders for the preservation of heritage and places of worship, it is easier to promote the transformation of these places by allowing them to host libraries, cafes, reception or performance rooms, collaborators or other services to a community in search of novelties and diverse experiences. Insofar as creativity, innovation, and renewal are the watchwords, it becomes much more conclusive to try to convince an entrepreneur, a decision-maker or an investor to contribute to new initiatives or installations that will serve the community and will have a direct impact on the daily lives of citizens.
All these changes are demanding and monopolize time and resources, but are necessary for the future of these deserted places. Well accompanied and well-advised, no doubt that the parishes, faced with the challenge of sustainability even more pronounced than seven weeks ago, will find mobilizing and unifying means to pursue their revisited and reinvented mission.
Esther Tranchemontagne, Vice President, Quebec and Eastern Quebec and Manager, Human Resources