Profiles of almost 1300 Catholic parishes across Australia have just been published, offering insights that those parishes have been encouraged to use in their pastoral planning processes.
The parish “social profiles” draw on data captured in the 2016 Australian Census and examine the Catholic population within parish boundaries.
“The reports don’t address the question of religious practice, simply a respondent’s choice on the Census question of religious affiliation,” said Professor Gabrielle McMullen, chair of the Australian Catholic Council for Pastoral Research (ACCPR).
“What the latter does tell us is that while the Catholic population fell between the 2011 and 2016 Censuses, the people captured in these reports still identified as Catholic and are people whose faith is important to them, whether we see them each Sunday or not.”
Trudy Dantis, the director of the National Centre for Pastoral Research, said the reports provide statistics on a range of demographic measures, including age, sex and country of birth, that present the evolving nature of Catholic parishes.
They also contain important information on the language people speak at home, the makeup of their families and households, their income levels, their occupation, and employment status. Data on educational background and attendance at educational institutions are also included.
Sophy Morley who is the Diocesan Coordinator for Liturgy and Pastoral Ministry, and a member of the Australian Catholic Council for Pastoral Research, said the profiles will be useful for parishes both large and small in our Diocese, and for Diocesan Councils, providing good insights into local communities and the wider Diocesan community.
Each parish profile contains data from the 2016 and 2011 Australian Census and provides a comparison to the Diocesan and national Catholic community as a whole.
“It is an important resource that assists the Diocese and Parish Pastoral Councils in their pastoral planning.
“Sometimes people make assumptions about what is going on in their community, based on who they see coming through the church door.
“This well designed report can really assist a parish pastoral council and leadership team to look further to encourage and support initiatives that will reach out to the wider Catholic community and beyond.” Ms Morley said.
“The report gives parishes the opportunity to explore the makeup of their own local Catholic community, how it is changing and what that might mean for planning in particular areas of pastoral life”.
Dr Dantis said the work of analysing the data from the 2016 Census was a lengthy process and, while 2016 might feel like a long time ago, the details in these reports help paint the most comprehensive picture we can of local Catholic communities.
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, the Bishop Delegate for Pastoral Research, said he values the insights that the reports offer.
“I commend these social profiles to all pastors, to parish councils, educators and to the wider community as an important resource that can assist in shaping our pastoral priorities,” he said.
The Catholic Diocese of Sale reports by parish can be found here.
In the future, the Diocese hopes to offer sessions in unpacking the reports and applying them to pastoral planning.
All 1297 reports are available on the National Centre for Pastoral Research website.
Source: ACBC Media Blog with Catholic Diocese of Sale Media