e-mail us
Small Christian Communities lead ‘a kind of double life’

NCR Staff
Victoria, British Columbia

It was a Saturday morning Catholic gathering that has its counterparts all over North America -- a small Christian community working group.

The resigned priests around the dining-room table in Edith and Tony Gvora’s apartment here were François Broussard, in the chair, Arthur Menu, Chris Diamond and Dick Perrott, the editorial team. At hand, the next issue of the Xristos community’s Journal.

“Xristos is a registered Canadian charity designed to promote and develop small faith communities,” explained Menu. It comes out of Corpus Canada.

“Like the U.S. Corpus,” continued Menu, “we were trying to influence the bishops. We realized that was a waste of time and moved on, to encouraging small community development.” Vancouver Island boasts some 50 small Christian communities, a sizable number given a Catholic population of around 90,000 in an overall population of about half a million (1996 figures). Small Christian Communities, commonly known as SCCs, are encouraged by Bishop Remi De Roo. Most SCC members also belong to the larger parish.

Said Menu, “I think I’m typical, we lead a kind of double life. Many [SCC] people are not disaffected from the local church, but they feel they need something more than they’re getting from their local parish.”

Canada has 30 million people, better than a third of them Catholic, nearly 13 million in 70-plus dioceses. There are about 9,000 priests (diocesan and religious), around 25,000 nuns, serving in 5,700 parishes along with 2,100 pastoral assistants, 2,500 brothers and 829 permanent deacons.

According to some around the table, the Canadian Catholic mainstream is “very spiritual but very disaffected.” They said that typically teens are ceasing to participate in the church, and only about half return when they marry. “If you’re a Catholic in Canada, you’re either laughing or crying,” said one. “And if you take this pope seriously, you’re crying.”

National Catholic Reporter, December 25, 1998