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.

Are the congregations in your faith becoming more and more female? Are men reluctant to attend services? Why do you think that is?

This is simply not the case at Notre-Dame. Moreover, there is an across-the-board increase in both sexes of every age: families with young children, young adults, university-aged people as well as those in their twenties through to their eighties and beyond. So, to paraphrase the third part of your question: Why do I think that this is?

I believe the answer is rooted in the teachings of the Church which are followed in each of our communities. Many experts use the term "assembly" when referring to congregations. In our assemblies, we find all those who have responded to the divine call to come together to celebrate 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 support the assemblys 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 present. This is why there is such a variety of members in 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. It is because of this that gender is not a factor in our membership!