Britain – church attendance
Posted by Fr Mark on September 5, 2009
Fall in Mass attendance forces church closures
From Irish Post 03.05.06:
FALLING attendances are causing church closures in once staunchly Irish Catholic strongholds in Britain.
The Diocese of Leeds has this week announced plans to close 10 of its 20 churches in areas once hugely Irish and Catholic populated. Bradford has seen attendance at weekly Mass drop almost 10,000 from 16,380 people in 1950 to 6,799 in 2000.
But the communications officer for the Diocese of Leeds John Grady has said that while the news of the possible closures was disappointing it is through no fault of the Irish.
Mr Grady praised the impact the Irish had on the church there and said it would now have to learn to cope without them.
He said: “In the past we had a great influx of Irish people. There’s no more influx of Irish people into England.”
“The Church is now on its own in West Yorkshire and will have to create its own men.
“The Irish have been powerful people here, they built the cities — both the buildings and educationally and financially.
“The Church has got to realise that that vast wealth of people who filled its pews and men who gave up everything and came here — that will never, ever be repeated. So now we’re on our own.”
The news comes at a time when numbers of attendees at Mass are particularly low and priest ordinations are becoming more and more rare.
But Sister Lucy Troy, director of the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain, believes a fall in church attendance doesn’t necessarily mean a loss of faith
She said: “I think maybe a number of people confuse church-going with faith.
“You can have people with great faith and yet they mightn’t be attending church every Sunday but they would certainly be people who would be living a faith commitment.
“Some of those might have no transport or might not be living near a church. Some might be going to prayer groups.
“There is no doubt about it however, that there has been a decline in church attendance by young people. Young people do not go to church the same as their parents or grandparents, for whatever reason.”
The reasons for the decline are widely reported to include social advancement of many Irish who then move out to the suburbs as well as assimilation, old age, death and migrants returning home to Ireland