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| 50 YEARS AFTER THE QUIET REVOLUTION |

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THE CHURCH IN MONTREAL TODAY

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By Mark Lavorato

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The Montréal Review, April 2012

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While church communities in Montreal were once extremely homogeneous, they now consist of every imaginable ethnicity and socio-economic background.

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What Montreal looked like in the recent past seems unimaginable today. In 1960, French-origin workers earned 52% less than British-origin workers. Francophones the vast majority of the population were poor, relatively uneducated, and had the highest birthrate in Canada. In fact, only a few decades earlier, Montreal's infant mortality rate was the second highest in the world, topped only by Calcutta. It was Canada's economic centre, yet in the francophone community, a quarter of all children died before their first year.

In 1960, however, everything changed. Jean Lesage was elected on a platform of robust modernization, and within a single decade known as the Quiet Revolution Quebec went from the province with the highest birthrate, to that of the lowest. Its education was brought up to (and in some cases exceeded) the national standard, and the traditional disparity between francophone and anglophone workers normalized.

There was also a major philosophical shift, where past values, ideas, and institutions, all of which had been rooted in the Roman Catholic Church, were thoroughly questioned. This gave way to a dramatic wave of secularization. The state took over schooling and hospitals, and seemingly overnight, the necessity of the Church had dwindled to almost nothing. Church attendance in 1960 was approximately 90%, while today it is 8%. By the 1970's, individual parishes on the island of Montreal were going bankrupt and foreclosing so quickly that a cottage industry arose in order to liquidate their artefacts, art, and relics; in the decades since, many more have been sold, demolished, or repurposed.

Despite all of this, there are still church communities that have managed (often creatively) to survive, and are active in Montreal today. This is the first of a three-part photo-essay that will examine what these communities look like, 50 years after the Quiet Revolution.

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Mark Lavorato is a musician, photographer, and professional nomad. His freelance work has been published in over twenty-five magazines including Ascent, Orange Room Review, and Poetry Canada. Mark is also the author of a collection of poetry called Wayworn Wooden Floors (2012), and his first novel, Veracity (2007) is available on his website at marklavorato.com. Mark currentlyresides in Montreal, but his wandering habits may soon take him elsewhere.

You can read and see more of Mark Lavorato's creative work on his blog at http://marklavorato.com .

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