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A traditional Latin Mass celebrated at St Aloysius, Caulfield (Facebook/Latin Mass Melbourne)

A Melbourne church that holds Mass in Latin has been described as one of the fastest-growing parishes in the archdiocese. Why are so many young Catholics travelling hours to get there, asks Angus Mackintosh. Source: ABC News.

It’s a freezing Sunday morning, and 23-year-old Catholic convert Llewellyn Beer has travelled nearly 35 kilometres across Melbourne to attend Mass at St Aloysius Church in Caulfield.

He says it’s worth the trip to attend the only Catholic church in Melbourne that exclusively holds services in Latin.

And he’s not alone: by 10.30 am, every pew is occupied, many by young parishioners like him.

“Zoomers want authenticity more than anything, and I think you’ll find it at a Latin Mass,” Mr Beer told Triple J Hack.

The traditional Latin Mass, also called the Tridentine Mass, was codified in 1570, and it’s starkly different to the standard Catholic Mass conducted in English.

“It’s divine and so uncompromising – you’re witnessing something that’s beyond your own feeble existence,” 21-year-old Elisha Andres said.

“You can tell this Mass is not about you, it’s not about entertainment, it’s really about the Lord.”

In 2021, Pope Francis imposed new restrictions on which churches could celebrate Latin Mass, ultimately leading Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli to seek permission from the Vatican to continue the weekly Latin service at St Patrick’s Cathedral, which was denied.

The cathedral celebrated its final Latin Mass last week, and predictably, the news wasn’t welcomed by the parishioners at St Aloysius.

The number of Catholics attending Latin Mass still remains small, especially compared to the hundreds of thousands of Australians who attend a vernacular Catholic Mass every week.

Fr Shawn Murphy, the priest who leads St Aloysius’ Young Adults group, said the parish regularly attracted “about 750” parishioners on a Sunday.

“Certainly, this has been recognised as one of the fastest-growing [parishes] by the Archbishop of Melbourne,” he said.

That growth sets the Latin Mass community apart from most Catholic churches in Australia.

Census data shows that while Catholicism is still Australia’s largest single Christian denomination, the proportion of Catholics in the population has been falling steadily for decades, and the median age of an Australian Catholic rose from 33 in 1996, to 43 in the 2021 census.


Young Catholics defy Pope, choose Latin as rift grows in Australia’s biggest church (By Angus Mackintosh, ABC News)