Disturbing statistics were sent last December to regional vicars of the archdiocese. Most worrying is the continuing decline of numbers at weekend Mass, down from 17 per cent in 2007 to 14 per cent in 2017, taken in the season of Lent mind you. In so-called ‘Godless’ America, the corresponding figure is 30–35 per cent. We are heading in the direction of France, Holland and Belgium.
The largest percentage decline in numbers at Mass occurred in the southern vicariate which comprises 15 parishes with 43 outlying communities served by 12 priests. The data is quantitative not qualitative; we have figures, but we do not have analysis and hence information as to why trends are the way they are.
Low Mass attendance contributes to low priest morale. Especially under the cluster system, many priests travel long distances on bad roads to celebrate Mass for congregations of 5 to 15 people. They often reach home late at night.