by ROWENA OREJANA and PETER GRACE
New Catholic migrants kept Auckland diocese’s Mass count up last year.
Auckland diocese pastoral services leader Pat Lythe said the number of Massgoers in Auckland had stayed the same or risen slightly in the past few years, except in 2013 when it dipped a little.
“Every other diocese in the country is dropping in number, but we are tending to remain the same or show a slight increase, mainly because of migration,” Mrs Lythe said.
Mrs Lythe is not quite correct. According to figures provided to NZ Catholic from each diocese, Palmerston North diocese’s Mass count rose 500 between 2014 and 2015.
Bishop’s secretary Sophia Macris said they didn’t know just why the numbers were up. She suggested that perhaps the amalgamation of several parishes had had a positive effect.
In Dunedin, Bishop’s Secretary Pauline Lee said the 2015 figures for the diocese were down a little on 2014.
“The basilica is shut at the moment, because it’s being redeveloped,” she said, “so that’s probably the biggest sort of impact there, because there’s a lot of older people who [would] walk there.”
In Auckland, St Patrick’s Cathedral recorded the highest number of Massgoers, averaging 2800 on a Sunday.
St Anne’s in Manurewa had the next biggest number at 1700, followed by St Mark’s, Pakuranga, and St Mary’s, Northcote, at 1600.
Mrs Lythe said the largest intake of Catholic migrants to Auckland were from Korea, the Philippines and India. She said Indian Catholics had come from southern India, where Catholics are being persecuted.
Indian Catholics settle in parishes along the ridge: Hillsborough, Owairaka and Three Kings. “Mass counts in these parishes tend to go up,” she said.
Mrs Lythe said the increase in the number of Massgoers is welcome, but brings challenges.
“It’s quite difficult trying to balance the needs and wants of each ethnic community. They bring their own traditions and feast days. It’s vibrant in a different way from what Kiwis understand,” she said.
Mrs Lythe said the diocese is trying to find ways to manage quite a diverse Church.
National 2015 Mass counts (figures may be indicative): Auckland: 35,718; Hamilton: 9451; Palmerston North: 6693 (2014, 6193); Wellington: (no figure); Christchurch: 9961 (2014, 10,497); Dunedin: 4798.