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Churches reaching out to Whistler community

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Candles and soft lighting ensure that the mood of a Taize service is more tantric than the traditional church service.

"You’re still participating in a Christian worship, but it’s just a different style," he said.

Taize is one example of new methods churches are employing to reach their congregations, but when a new priest arrives in a diocese the effects can be just as refreshing as a new method of preaching.

The Catholic Church’s new leader, Father Gal, arrived two months ago after a stint in Newfoundland. And while he is still finding his feet, it is already clear that the 36-year-old priest has many stories to share with Whistler’s youth.

Father Gal began training for the priesthood in 1986, when the Czech Republic and Slovakia were still one country under communism.

"The official government religion was atheism," Gal said.

"But I saw things in life and society in a different way than the way it was being presented by the official authority.

"I didn’t want to join the mainstream opinion because I felt at that time there was a need to bring new values and attitudes to the system.

"There were some advantages to communism, but I always said the price was too high.

"We had no freedom of travel… no free speech and no freedom of religion or even freedom of publishing.

"I went to university in Bratislava, for instance, and Vienna in Austria was only 50km away but we were never allowed to go there.

"And when there is no freedom of publishing it makes it hard to get the bible.

"Some people took a risk and tried to bring the bibles over the border, but if they were caught they would go to prison."

Father Gal is confident he will connect with the community quickly because he believes that all humans have the same kinds of needs, regardless of where they’re from or how well they live.

"Many people look at the bible as something that might have happened 3,000 years ago but across the centuries there are many things that are still true," he said.

"We call them transcendent truths, which are values such as peace, freedom, truth, love, respect, honesty and these are values the gospel talks about.

"The challenge is finding ways to help people discover these values."

The Catholic Church in Whistler meets at 4.30 p.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. on Sundays. There is also a children’s mass once a month.

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