National mass count continues this Sunday

The national "census" on church attendance will continue this Sunday in all parishes and other Mass centres throughout Australia.

Director of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference Pastoral Projects Office, Bob Dixon, said the count is conducted in the same year as the Australian Census and the National Church Life Survey.

Mr Dixon says that church attendance is perhaps the most basic measure of religious practice and while many dioceses and parishes already conduct periodic counts, there is rarely a universal count in all places on the same days.

The first national count was conducted in 2001 and found that about 15.3 per cent of Australia's Catholic population, or 765,000 people, went to church on a typical weekend.

It also showed that around one in every 15 attenders celebrates Mass in a language other than English.

Mr Dixon said it is intended that the 2006 count will be conducted in all parishes and other Mass centres, such as migrant community centres, throughout Australia.

"The count will be as comprehensive as possible, and include people of all ages at Mass (including babies) and other types of Sunday assemblies," he said. "It will be a simple headcount. No other information about attenders will be collected."

Mr Dixon said the count would not disrupt Mass, but could be done, for example, while the collection was being taken up.

The count will be held over the four Saturday evenings and Sundays of May.

"Counting over four Sundays ensures that fortnightly and monthly events are not overlooked. This particularly important for many country towns and migrant communities," Mr Dixon said.

The Record reports that the count in Perth Archdiocese will begin this Sunday.

In the Perth archdiocese 59,300 was a typical weekend attendance, similarly about 16 per cent of the archdiocesan Catholic population. The variable was a low of 57,150 on 6 May and a high of 60,950 on 27 May. Church commentators tend to the view that many average Catholics may not be attending every Sunday, hence the surges as well as the overflow Christmas and Easter attendances.

The paper also reports that the Perth archdiocese will this year conduct its own five yearly Mass attendance census on an ordinary weekend in December and a Christmas count which reveals the maximum attendance in the year.

National count of Mass attenders to take place in May (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference - Pastoral Projects Office)
Parishes to start Mass count (The Record 11/5/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference - Pastoral Projects Office

Church to conduct national count of Mass attenders (CathNews 6/4/06)

Study shows Mass attendance steady despite sex abuse crisis (Catholic News Service 10/5/06)

12 May 2006