Thursday, 30 October 2008

Statistics, statistics, statistics ...

Amongst other things that take place annually in our Church in October we have what we call 'The Mass Count'. Every Sunday during the month we count the number of people present at Mass. This includes children and those in the sanctuary; clergy, altar servers etc. This information is collated by the Dioceses in England and Wales and is used to provide the statistics for Church attendance nationally.

It has always struck me as being a bad time to gain an accurate picture of numbers attending Mass. In this month we always have a school Half-Term holiday which invariably affects two Sundays out of the four as more and more people seem to actually go away for a holiday at Half-Term nowadays.

It is also very noticeable that there is a marked increase in attendance on the Sunday following the beginning our Catechetical programme, which sadly is not repeated on the remaining Sundays in the month. I wonder how can we get the message across that it is not only that we should be there but also that we should want to be there?

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October is also the month when parish priests are approached first by parents and later by local Catholic secondary schools to provide references for the children who are moving up to secondary school.

The priest is asked to confirm that the child and his/her family are regular in their attendance at Mass and involved in parish activities.

I am of course delighted when parents opt to send their children to Catholic schools. It is right and fitting that they should do so.

If you are a committed, practising Catholic then I can see no difficulty in your child being accepted into a Catholic secondary school. I, like other parish priests in similar parishes, am of course fully aware of those in our parish who fulfill this requirement and I wish you all well in your efforts to secure a place in a suitable school for your child.

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