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Multicultural parishes a hallmark of Archdiocese


More than half the parishioners in the Adelaide Archdiocese were born overseas, according to results of the National Church Life Survey (NCLS) released late last year.

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Conducted in 2016, the local findings were based on the responses of 1297 adults and 105 children (aged 8 to 14 years) from seven churches in the Archdiocese who completed the survey.

Findings revealed 56 per cent of Mass goers surveyed in the Archdiocese were born overseas and 54 per cent speak a language other than English at home. Sixty per cent of Mass goers are women, and nearly a third have a university degree.

Almost a quarter of all church attenders are new arrivals to their parish in the past five years and 95 per cent of those who completed the survey said they attend Mass at least once a month.

An overwhelming majority said what they valued about their church was ‘celebrating the Eucharist/receiving Holy Communion’ and the ‘traditional style of worship or music’. Figures indicate that local parishes give a sense of welcome, with 80 per cent saying they felt a ‘strong sense of belonging’ and found it ‘easy to make friends’ in their parish.

Nearly all the children (97 per cent) say their family members are ‘good examples’ of people who follow Jesus, as are the adults (including leaders) at their church (88 per cent).

The NCLS is the largest survey of its kind in the world, with more than a quarter of a million forms completed by churchgoers and leaders in over 3000 local churches. The 2016 results covered the thoughts of people from more than 20 Christian denominations in Australia.

NCLS research director Dr Ruth Powell said the figures showed that Australian Catholic parishes are culturally diverse and can be a significant place of welcome and social inclusion for migrants.

“Compared to other nations, we have a very high proportion of multicultural parishes,” she said.

“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.

“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.”

Adelaide Chancellor Heather Carey said the results were a useful resource and would assist with future planning of the Archdiocese.

“Our planning will be based on the Eight Gospel Characteristics of renewing parishes and will be informed by the priorities that have been identified in the NCLS for our Archdiocese,” she said.

Priorities will include: spiritual growth through prayer, reflection groups, meditation and spiritual direction, formation in Scripture and worship services that are nurturing to people’s faith. Other priorities were building a strong sense of community, friendship and belonging, and encouraging people to identify and use their gifts in their parish.

Mrs Carey said further key areas included new approaches to ministry and mission, supporting local justice and responding to people in need, and encouraging people to share their faith and to invite others. Other areas identified were welcoming and including new people, effective ministry for children and youth, nurturing young families, and a stronger focus on Care for the Earth. The importance of ensuring each local church has a clear vision, goals or direction for its ministry and mission, was also emphasised.


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