Church at­ten­dance be­lies faith fig­ures

The Irish Times - - Home News - EOGHAN Mac CON­NELL

Of­faly might have the largest num­ber of de­clared Catholics of any county, but it is not im­mune from the strug­gles fac­ing the Catholic Church.

In all, 88.6 per cent of peo­ple in the county de­clared as Catholic in Cen­sus 2016, although Banagher-based pri­est Fr Pierre Pep­per is prag­matic about the re­al­ity be­hind the num­bers.

“It would be re­veal­ing if you asked them the fur­ther ques­tion of how does that trans­late into the prac­tice of the faith.

“If you look at the re­al­i­ties of a Sun­day, the de­mo­graph­ics that are there, it will tell a dif­fer­ent story,” said Fr Pep­per.

Even if peo­ple do not go to church, Fr Pep­per said there was an ex­tremely pos­i­tive feel­ing to­wards pri­ests in the county.

“There is faith there and there is an affin­ity.”

But this does not trans­late into huge num­bers in the pews on Sun­day. “If you were be­ing hon­est, you could draw a line at 50 and be­low that you will no­tice the young peo­ple be­cause they stick out,” he said.

So­cial events

Bap­tisms and First Holy Com­mu­nions are “now so­cial events, rather than re­li­gious ones”, he said.

“They have a ve­neer of re­li­gious prac­tice but that is about all.”

In one case, he had 35 chil­dren and their par­ents at­tend­ing Mass every Sun­day for nine months in prepa­ra­tion for First Holy Com­mu­nion.

“The day after the Com­mu­nion they were all gone, bar two.

“That is what you look at rather than statis­tics, it’s bums on seats.”

How­ever, he re­mains hope­ful. “We are still quite op­ti­mistic, there is no room for de­spon­dency.”

Leav­ing the Church of the As­sump­tion in Tul­lam­ore yes­ter­day, a woman from Kil­cor­mac said Co Of­faly had a more set­tled pop­u­la­tion than many other ar­eas. “Peo­ple don’t move in here. They move more to the city.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.