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.

How do you minister to people who were once faithful but now are not so sure?

It is almost inevitable that at one time or another on our journey of faith we find ourselves in doubt. This can be brought about by major life events such as the death or serious illness of a family member or friend, the loss of a job or the breakdown of a marriage or a long-term relationship. It can even come out of nowhere! Our ministry to those who find themselves questioning or doubting is always centered around honest dialogue.

Allowing such individuals to question and to seek answers to their questions calls for patience and understanding. Several of our parishes have programmes which provide a forum for such people to share their feelings and work through them. In other cases, when people want to understand more the teachings of the Church, they have joined the Adult Faith Development programme offered by the Archdiocese. Others join groups such as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults where they can learn more. Almost each year we have one or two people who have done so at the Cathedral. Not only does the process help the individual to find the answers they seek, they often discover a calling to become part of the process themselves as sponsors to others!

Others follow retreats or find spiritual directors who can help them develop a clearer understanding of their relationship with God and, consequently, his Church. Another example of a highly effective means for rediscovering and intensifying ones faith is the Coursillio movement. This is literally a "short course" on the faith given over a long weekend.

What is really important for us is to find the situation which will work for every different individual. This is true for each of us. Throughout our faith journey we seek to live securely with questions and walk confidently with God and his people.