Friday, July 23, 2010

The Mass of All Ages for all ages

I'm not a great one for ecclesiastical statistics. When it comes to faith matters they so often seem to be rather flexible tools for proving whatever point your are trying to make. Sort of  'is the glass half empty or half full?' Yes, I know, the next cliche I should use is 'lies, damned lies, and statistics.' After Mass this morning I was, however, tempted to do my own bit of 'independent' research. We had 16 people at Mass but the demographics were rather interesting. I'd guess there was 2 people in their seventies, 3 in their sixties, 2 in their fifties, 5 in their forties, 2 in their thirties, and another in his twenties. The final entrant on the flow chart was only baptised last Sunday. It's these young ones that are the problem- baptised one week and off to the Traditional Latin Mass the next! Given the fact the youngster is less than a month old probably makes him a statistical anomaly. It gave me an 'average' congregational age of 43.  Ethnically the group were just as diverse. Gender break down: 7 men and 9 women. Employment history: 4 retired, 10 employed, 1 in further education and 1 probably already starting the search for his first pre-school place. I wont bother you with the very English concern for social status but it was just as diverse and the rest of the figures. I should note that this was a 'private' Mass- not advertised- which has become known by word of mouth. It will not 'count' in official statistics.

Some years I ago, when ministering in rural England, I took over a public daily Mass after a priest had died. I made the appropriate enquiries of the bishop and got his permission to continue for the sake of the congregation attached to an old folks home. Permission was granted with the understanding that once I had finished my work in the area there could be no guarantee of continued provision. A year after I took over I sent a report to the ordinary of what was happening with the group. We had a Sunday Mass attendance of about 50, high days considerably more. I noted that over half the congregation were of school age or younger. The reply was, shall we say, just a bit frosty. The statistics were not what were expected.

Whilst the evidence is anecdotal it does seem that in places where the provision is a day 'here and there' the congregation will be older. Where there is a weekday provision the average age drops considerably. Throw a Sunday Mass into the mix and the average on every demographic indicator plummets. If you have this problem you might find My See and Pray Missal useful. I keep on running out of copies!

1 comment:

  1. I believe the current version of the phrase is: “Lies, damned lies, and Climate Change Science”.


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