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Sunday night mass 'critical to retaining young adults'

Sunday evening Mass may be the last opportunity the Church has for regular engagement with many young adult Catholics, according to a new report on Mass attendance.

Yesterday's Catholic Leader newspaper said a report from the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Pastoral Projects Office - Who goes when? - Mass attenders and their usual Mass times - shows that Sunday evening is "easily the most popular time for older teenagers and young adults".

Who goes when? urges any parish considering abolishing its Sunday evening Mass to 'think again'.

The report highlights that this is particularly crucial in the light of evidence from an earlier report that the Mass attendance rate among young adult Catholics was less than 10%.

Pastoral Projects Office director Bob Dixon and researcher Sharon Bond presented their report to the bishops' conference late last year.

The report is based on an analysis of more than 56,000 Catholics' Mass attendance patterns as reported in their responses in the 2001 National Church Life Survey.

Mr Dixon said the difference in Mass attendance patterns were more pronounced than he had expected.

"Almost three-tenths (29%) of male Mass attenders aged between 15 and 29 go to Mass only on Sunday evenings, and a further 13% attend Mass on Sunday evening or at another time," the report says. "For females of the same age, the corresponding figures are 25% and 16%.

"In other words, among Mass attenders of this age group, 42% of males and 41% of females either attend Mass on Sunday evening only, or do so with some regularity."

Meanwhile a report in Sydney's Catholic Weekly suggests Catholics are rediscovering the Sunday Mass in the wake of the tsunami that has brought devastation to Asian and African coastal communities.

Sr Carmel Pilcher RSJ, director of liturgy for the Archdiocese of Sydney, said people are reflecting on the Eucharist to try to find answers to the incomprehensible massive human tragedy.

"The reaction to the tsunami is a good example of faith," she told the Weekly. "People are asking: 'How could something like this happen?' or 'Where's God in all this?'

"But when they go to the Sunday Eucharist, they can find some meaning to this tragedy," Sr Carmel said.

Pope John Paul II, who has declared 2004-2005 the Year of the Eucharist, on Friday described participation in Sunday Mass as an essential part of Christian living.

"Participating in the Sunday Mass is not only an important obligation, as the 'Catechism of the Catholic Church' says clearly, but, above all, it is a profound need experienced by each of the faithful," he said.

The Holy Father focused on the importance of Sunday Mass during a speech to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, which met last week at the Vatican. He told the commission members that bishops and priests must find more effective ways to communicate to the faithful the central place Sunday Mass has "in the church and social life of men and women today."

Sunday night mass critical to retaining young adults (Catholic Leader 23/1/05)
Eucharist a solace in time of disaster (Catholic Weekly 23/1/05)
Pope says attending Sunday Mass essential part of Christian living (Catholic News Service 21/1/05)

Why Sunday Mass (Australian Catholics)
Pastoral Projects Office
NCLS Research
Centre for Applied Researach in the Apostolate

Australian resources for Year of Eucharist released (CathNews 21/1/05)
Bishops to research disconnected Catholics (CathNews 7/12/04)
Priest shortage puts Mass under cloud (CathNews 1/12/04)
Survey results reveal drift to Protestant denominations (CathNews 17/5/02)
Bishops act to refresh Australian Church with Eucharist focus (CathNews 21/5/04)
Pope urges Church to make Sunday Mass more relevant to people's needs (CathNews 2/9/02)

Pope Urges Latin Americans to Make Sunday Mass a Priority (Catholic Online/Zenit 21/1/05)
Rediscover the role of Sunday Mass, Pope urges (Catholic World News 21/1/05)
Year of the Eucharist: Australian Bishops focus on Sunday Mass (Fides 21/1/05)
Rediscover and fully experience Sunday as the Lord's Day (Vatican Information Service 21/1/05)
Sunday Mass Is Key to Nourishing Faith, Says Cardinal (Zenit 21/1/05)

24 Jan 2005