Skip to main content

Low German speaking Mennonites who have come to Ontario from Latin America are a part of a rich religious tradition with a long history. The formal aspects of religious life are expressed in church activities, but the very fabric of daily colony life is religious as well.

Religious holidays

  • Epiphany
  • Good Friday
  • Easter
  • Ascension Day
  • Pentecost
  • Christmas

The celebration of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost is often three days long. These days are referred to as the first, second and third day of the holiday. They are important times for church services, travel and family gatherings. For this reason, Low German families may miss school, work and other appointments on these days.

Church Affiliation in Ontario


When they arrive in Ontario, many Low German-speaking families will choose to participate in the Old Colony church, while others may continue to live according to many Old Colony ways and attend other (usually Mennonite) churches or sometimes no church at all. The attendance or lack of attendance does not indicate their dedication to their faith beliefs. Their distinctive dress is, however, a visible reminder to both themselves and those around them that they do not share the values and lifestyle of mainstream society.

Service providers may encounter some Low German Mennonites who seem to have adjusted to and/or integrated Canadian norms and mores more quickly than others. This often occurs when Low German Mennonites are part of less conservative denominations in Latin America that have already undergone some significant cultural shifts which are expanded upon within the Canadian context.

Service providers should not assume that Low German families are deeply connected with and supported by a church. There are many reasons why some families may not be involved in their church communities. The assumption that entire family systems (i.e., adult siblings with their own family units) belong to and/or are involved in the same church denomination is also inaccurate.

The inside of an Old Colony church.

The inside of an Old Colony church.

While Low German church leaders are keen to support their congregants, they have responsibilities within large geographical areas (i.e., the Aylmer area is Tillsonburg to Drayton). Additionally, unlike many other religious leaders, they are not employed by the church and perform their leadership duties in addition to their personal family obligations. Though it is good for service providers to consider and include church leaders in supporting Low German families, it may be difficult for these leaders to provide the necessary levels of ongoing support that some families will need.

Most Low German Mennonite denominations do not view the church as an appropriate place for disseminating information regarding community events and services. The church building and the corporate gathering of the church are entirely for the purpose of worship.