Filipino immigrants keep Catholic church in Calgary alive

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  • New Canadians from the Philippines are keeping their Catholic faith, and their church alive in Calgary, according to a CBC report.

    Father Malcolm D’Souza with St Mark church in northeast Calgary said in the report that when he arrived in Calgary in 2010, his congregation was very small.

    Then the Catholic church started offering a twice-a-month service in the Filipino language, mostly to make the temporary foreign workers from the Philippines feel at home. And the attendance numbers exploded, according to CBC.

    D’Souza said in the CBC report that the church regularly gets 800 people for noon mass and 700 for the 6 p.m. service.

    D’Souza is originally from India and does not speak Filipino himself.

    Reginald Bibby, who has spent years examining the role of religion in Canadian life as a sociologist at the University of Lethbridge, said in the CBCreport that this trend is replicated in cities across Canada.

    “Immigration’s just a phenomenally important source as far as the vitality of religion in Canada,” he said.

    If the influence of immigration gets overlooked, Bibby says that’s because not all churches are benefiting.

    Roman Catholic and evangelical Christian churches, as well as mosques, are seeing big growth from immigration. But United and Anglican Churches are not, according to the CBC report.

    A new survey of Canadian values and identity conducted by the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) in partnership with CBC shows a growing schism in attitudes towards religion.

    A majority of those surveyed say religion does not play a big role in their day-to-day lives, says Shachi Kurl, executive director of ARI, in the CBC report.

    But if you tease out the immigrants from within the survey sample, there’s a different story.

    “Newcomer communities are the ones filling churches again. They are the ones filling mosques and temples and really bringing a sense of religious communion back to Canada,” according to Kurl.

     

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