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Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Ireland: Mass attendance growing
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¬†The numbers of people going to Mass in Ireland has increased over the past three years, according to latest reports. Parishes across Dublin have seen a small rise in Sunday Mass attendance and collections, for the third year running, and the picture is the same across the rest of the country. Fr Martin Clarke, director of the Catholic communications office, in Dublin, said definitive figures for the country have not been compiled yet, but several places have reported an increase. He said: "You don't hear the talk of decreasing attendance that there was a few years ago." During the 1960s, 90 per cent of the population attended Sunday Mass. This plummeted to just over 60 per cent during the 1990s. Fr Clarke said he hoped the new figures meant that the decline had been arrested. Fr Pat Guckian of St Canice's church in Finglas said he had noticed a trend in middle-aged parishioners, who had abandoned religious practice, returning to the fold. He said:"I don't know why it is, but it's happening. I think there has been a cut-off for some of them. They've definitively said, 'That's it', and decided they want a little more than just the satisfaction of the Celtic tiger." Other churches have said that family and children's Masses are proving particularly popular. At the Easter Sunday Mass in Westport, Co Mayo, this year, Fr Michael Molloy said he had to bring all the children to the steps of the altar, to make space for what was a record attendance. He said he was concerned about fire safety when he looked down on the crowd. A church spokesman said more college students were also getting involved in religious activities. At University College Dublin, he said, 6,000, or a third of the student population, attended Mass this Ash Wednesday. The increase in Mass attendance is reflected in income from collections. In the archdiocese of Dublin, the collection has increased for three years in a row to £3.8million. The total collection across the country, including the family offerings and donations for priests, was £24.4m, compared to £23.8m the previous year.
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