Mass attenders increasingly multicultural

Parishoners of St Mary MacKillop, Oran Park, NSW complete the survey (NCLS)

More than 40 per cent of people attending Mass were born overseas, according to the latest National Church Life Survey, Melbourne Catholic reports.

These figures from the 2016 NCLS demonstrate that parishes are culturally diverse and can be a significant place of welcome and social inclusion for migrants.

Of those born overseas, some 37 per cent of Mass attenders were born in a non-English speaking country, which is much higher than in the general population (22 per cent). Some 30 per cent of Mass attenders who took part in the 2016 NCLS speak English plus other language(s) at home.

NCLS Research Director Dr Ruth Powell said this multicultural mix in churches has increased over time, despite churches with a non-English speaking background being under-represented in the national survey.

"The proportion of participating Mass attenders born overseas was 34 per cent in 2006 and ten years later it was up to 43 per cent," she said. "Compared to other nations, we have a very high proportion of multicultural parishes."

More women than men attend Catholic parishes: 62 per cent of Mass attenders are female. As in previous waves of the NCLS, this is higher than in Australian society, where females represent 51 per cent of the population.

"The fact that women continue to be more religious than men confirms a long-term pattern, which has been found in all religions and across the world," explained Dr Powell. "There are a lot of theories about why this is the case. While there are lots of factors involved, the evidence points to social and cultural factors, such as religious traditions and workforce participation, having an important role."

Those in the pews are more educated than ever before. Some 36 per cent of Mass attenders held a university degree in 2016, up from 27 per cent in 2006. The proportion of tertiary educated churchgoers continued to be higher than the population, where 22 per cent held a university degree in 2016. Another 42 per cent of Mass attenders had only a school level education.

The 2016 NCLS represents the sixth survey wave, held every five years, since 1991, alongside the national Census. Catholic parishes have taken part in Church Life Surveys since 1996. The results presented are based on a representative sample of parishes from across all dioceses.

Details: National Church Life Survey website

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Survey finds Mass goers are increasingly female, born overseas and well-educated (Melbourne Catholic)

National Church Life Survey Catholic Demographics (NCLS)

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