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 your parishioner numbers growing or dwindling, and is that a concern?

For the past three years, there has been a consistent increase in the number of our parishioners. Over 600 families added their names to our parish list. Being the Mother Church, located in the heart of the city, people come to us each Sunday from as far as Kanata, Nepean, Riverside South, Orleans, Cumberland and beyond. We are conscious of our missionary mandate, as outlined in Matthews Gospel "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Mt. 28: 19-20).

In his encyclical Redemptoris Missio, Pope John Paul II, reminded us that our missionary zeal must be rooted in the Lords love for all people. The Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigour of her missionary dynamism because it is the very "love of Christ that urges us on" (no. 11). Called to bring the Gospel to everyone, we must be a welcoming community where they can find a spiritual home in which their faith is stimulated through good liturgy and fine music, centered on the Gods Word and the Sacraments.

A few years ago the term "evangelization" would have been somewhat unusual in a conversation about a Catholic Churchs sense of mission and purpose. However, this call to renewal is now very much at the heart of the Churchs discussion of itself and its charge. Evangelization nourishes and deepens our understanding of the Gospel, the Sacraments, our doctrine and our mission. So, to answer your question, this is our greatest concern: that all who come together as Gods people in our Cathedral community find grace and peace in our encounters with the Lord and be led to bring that love to the world into which we are sent.