Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

Many western Christian churches have increasingly become aimed at meeting the needs of women and children. What, if anything, is your church/religion doing to attract and keep men coming to your church?

This question implies that the male population is showing signs of dwindling in our congregations. This is not our experience at Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica. There is an across-the-board increase in people who speak both official languages and are of both sexes and every age: families with young children, young adults, university-aged people as well as those who are twenty to eighty and beyond. We are preoccupied with meeting the needs of all the people who have joined our community over the past few years.

There are many ways to accomplish this, but the most basic one is by gathering all who have responded to the Lords call to come together to celebrate all the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, which is the source and summit of ecclesial life. Men, women and children answer the divine call to worship where we both celebrate and receive our identity. Just as there is a diversity of gifts, roles and ministries in the Churchs life at large, a similar diversity of gifts and roles is celebrated and expressed in the liturgy that supports our prayer. Here, every member is touched in different ways: The most fundamental liturgical ministry belongs to those gathered as they render praise and thanksgiving to the Lord and offer the gift of sanctification to the people of God.

People of all sexes and ages have a deep-rooted need to be part of the Church. Herein, with the Lord, we mark the events of human life: birth, membership in a community, nourishment, commitment, restoration of broken relationships, the recognition of our mortality - and so on. In each of these moments, we come to life in Christ and deepen our relationship with him and each other. This, then, spills out into all our other communal activities. Gender is rarely a factor in our membership.