Monday, April 27, 2009

Irish parishes report increase in Mass attendance since recession

My wife and I visited Ireland three times, and every time has been delightful. Ireland is a special place, where you can experience her Catholic past historically and spiritually. As in all of Europe, many Catholics in Ireland do not practice their faith. The disease of secularism is rampant. On a particular Sunday morning we attended Holy Mass at Galway Cathedral. We noticed there were very few people in the pews. After Mass, most ran for the gift shop - so I guess most of them were tourists. Michael Kelly, of the Catholic News Service, says Mass attendance has increased due to the recession.
Irish parishes report increase in Mass attendance since recession
By Michael Kelly Catholic News Service

DUBLIN, Ireland (CNS) -- Many Irish parishes have reported an increase in Mass attendance in recent months, with some parishes reporting increases of up to 30 percent.

Bishop Joseph Duffy of Clogher, Northern Ireland, said it is not just the older people who are attending Mass in greater numbers.

"There are a lot of people with young families who have been absent from the church who are now returning," Bishop Duffy said.

"It's been happening for a little while now -- people are seeing the need for deeper values, for moral values that lead on to a search for spiritual values; people are certainly searching for something deeper," he said.

After a period of unprecedented economic growth, Ireland's economy has been in dire straits in recent months. In a work force of 2 million, approximately 1,000 people lose their jobs every day.

"People are experiencing deep crisis for the first time in their lives," Bishop Duffy said. "The pace of this economic collapse has been so swift, I think it is causing people to stop and search; this naturally finds a home in coming back to church."

Several priests around Northern Ireland and Ireland echoed the bishop's comments.

In County Donegal, in Ireland, Father William Peoples said there were "much bigger crowds than recent years. On Easter Sunday, we had a 30 percent increase, but it's been noticeable over the last few months.

"The recession certainly has something to do with it," he said. "I suppose we have walked down the road of the Celtic Tiger for many years; we get fed up of a materialistic world and desire more."

In Tuam, in the west of Ireland, Father Sean Cunningham said: "I have noticed an increase in numbers of the last few months and I think the recession has a big part in that. I sense a move to more openness to faith and religion, and that people are searching for something deeper than material things."

CNS Link

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