Chatswood church as ‘busy as ever’ despite falling numbers of Catholics across the north shore

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CLERICAL sexual abuse scandals, materialism and sporting commitments are among the issues drawing people away from the Catholic Church, according to Father Paul Finucane.

Coupled with work commitments and technology, there is little time for anything else, the parish priest at Our Lady of Dolours in Chatswood said.

“I think one of the factors (in the decline) is that because of the sex abuse scandals in the church some people have chosen to walk away and say they don’t want to belong anymore,” Father Finucane said.

“I think another factor would be that society is becoming more secular … And hurried and rushed and driven with the technology that pushes our lives for everything to be urgent.”

But despite census 2016 figures showing numbers are down in the north shore, and the nation, Fr Finucane said his parish in Chatswood was as busy as ever.

“(We have) a significantly higher (attendance) figure than the other parishes around this area which include Lindfield, Killara, lower north shore, Pymble, St Ives and Wahroonga,” he told the North Shore Times.

“The total catholic population in Chatswood is 8,700 on average and our Mass attendance is 1,450 on average on Sunday, every Sunday.”

Father Finucane with Kelvin Wong, Coco Guo, Francis Lee, Jian Qing Liang, Emily Li, and Joseph Mui. Picture: Damian Shaw

Father Finucane has been at the church since 2010 and said he has witnessed the changes since the last census first hand.

He said the church community was “slowly growing” thanks to increasing numbers of Asian immigrants becoming Catholics and involving themselves in parish life.

In Chatswood alone, the Chinese-born population has almost doubled since 2011 to 5,151, with more than 1,600 Korean-born residents and 1,315 Hong Kong.

“What we’re finding here is our community is growing because of Chinese people and Asian people who come from a non-religious background, migrate to Australia and then become connected to the church and find they like it,” he said.

“Last year we had 13 adults baptised … The year before we had 21 adults, again all basically Chinese and Korean.”

Rebecca Parish
North Shore Times

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