The troubling “conversion” of the Cistercian abbey in Oka, Quebec, into a Harry Potter theme park raises once again the question of what is to become of churches in our dramatically secularized Western civilization.
The abbey of Notre-Dame du Lac was a Trappist abbey near the Lake of Two Mountains in the Laurentides. Founded by French Trappists expelled from France by the Republican laws of 1880, it was once home to 177 monks who lived their lives at the pace of the Divine Office, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and manual labor.
But since that time, the abbey has been emptied, another victim to the crisis of vocations, the conciliar reforms of the liturgy, and the adaptation of religious life to the world. As a result, the huge building that once housed an agricultural school was sold in 2007 to be transformed into an educational, cultural, and tourist center. The last monk, Brother John, left the abbey on March 28, 2009.
The former abbey is now about to be turned into a Harry Potter theme park, based on the series of novels that tell of the adventures of the young sorcerer.
For the tidy sum of $80, visitors can “experience a full-scale immersion class in sorcery. People will really have the impression that they have entered into the universe of Hogwarts and Harry Potter,” announced the Journal de Montréal in its May 26, 2018 issue. The sinister inauguration is scheduled for August 4.
A Challenge for Our De-Christianized Western World
Among the countries faced with this type of challenge, the French Catholic Church believes it has found the beginnings of an answer: a work group – “Churches, a Pastoral Issue” – was formed around Bishop Jacques Habert, bishop of Séez, in 2015.
The goal is to be “careful” to preserve the Church’s heritage.
How? By encouraging lay initiatives in parishes in order to make the private buildings of priests and therefore of the Mass more open and welcoming: rosaries, guided tours, etc.
So be it. Do they really believe this sort of expedient will be a cure for the fundamental problem?
In the face of the increasing secularization, how much longer will the 42,000 churches in France last before their crucifixes are replaced by the "relics" from films like Harry Potter?