On the Forum of the Society of St. Gregory, contributor “JW” wrote:
The 2015 Diocesan Directories are published. Statistics contained therein are for 2013.
In the Archdiocese of Southwark, Mass attendance declined from 91,260 to 90,430, despite a strong influx of immigrants. This masks huge differences in individual parishes.
In percentage terms, the most successful parish in the diocese appears to be the Ordinariate parish of the Most Precious Blood, Borough, which has increased Mass attendance by a whopping 80%, from 115 to 207. One parish in the diocese seems to have lost 267 Mass attenders, dropping 40% from 660 to 393.
On Epiphany Sunday “JW” then made a secret visit to MPB and wrote the following report:
I was there last Sunday and they do things well and really not so different from a traditionally inclined Catholic Parish.
- The church bells were ringing before Mass.
- Fairly quiet atmosphere before Mass, not completely silent, but enough to enable prayer
- Service sheet / newsletter with the readings, hymns and Proper all included.
- Celebration facing the people and in English, apart from the Missa de Angelis
- Friendly and thought-provoking sermon on how both faith and science can help us in our search after truth (the question: “is there really a difference between astronomy and astrology?” was posed as a summary: the final sentence of the sermon).
- Communion under both kinds (with a woman Eucharistic Minister)
- Hymns all traditional Epiphany hymns: As with gladness, We three kings, O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness
- Gospel and Preface Dialogues sung (missal chants)
- Invitations to people: 1) “there’s coffee afterwards in the rectory, I do hope you can come through” 2) “if you haven’t had your house blessed yet, do let me know and I’ll come and do it”
- Very good mix of ages, genders and ethnicities present
Food for thought:
- Altar servers were all male, mostly teenagers; there were no children. This meant that there was no distracting fidgeting or looking around by the servers, who were extremely well trained and disciplined,
- Personally I think there are better plainsong Masses than ‘de Angelis’. I was glad the Creed was said. However, their choir is not particularly strong and they’re probably right to stick to the familiar.
- Blessing of chalk at the end of Mass, but everyone went up for a piece
- Sung Angelus after Mass (it was about Midday) – first time I’ve hear the Hail Mary sung
They are obviously still growing:
- In the local coffee shop, a lady was checking they’d be open after Mass.
- Three ladies asked me if there was a Mass now when I was going in (must have looked as if I belonged!!)
Bearing in mind that previously it was a dying inner city parish, it’s great to see growth there. They seemed to have no great secret, except for a prayerful liturgy and clergy & people who are friendly and open: we should all be aiming for that.
(Hattip to one of our regular contributors)