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National count of Mass attenders to take place in May

It’s time again for Australian Catholics to stand up and be counted – literally!

The National Count of Attendance will be conducted in all parishes and other Mass centres throughout Australia during May 2006.

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.

“This is so that the information collected can most effectively be used in association with results from the two larger projects,” Mr Dixon said.

He said all dioceses and parishes were encouraged to take part in the count.

“Church attendance is perhaps the most basic measure of religious practice,” he said. “Most dioceses conduct counts of attenders at some stage, but not every diocese does it with the same frequency, in the same way or at the same time.”

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 is particularly important for many country towns and migrant communities,” Mr Dixon said.

Released by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

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