Mater Dei Centre for Catholic Education
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Coronavirus & Church survey update

Coronavirus & Church survey update

On 14th May 2020, the Mater Dei Centre for Catholic Education launched the Coronavirus, Church & You survey.  Aimed at respondents in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the research team worked alongside international colleagues at York St. John University conducting similar research in England and Wales.

Over a period of six weeks, the survey gathered data from 1,428 Irish respondents.  This information pertained to impact of the pandemic on the lives of respondents, particularly with regard to their faith, during the first severe lockdown and before the initial reopening of churches to public worship.  In time, it will be fascinating to investigate the similarities and differences of this impact on the faith lives of citizens of the different jurisdictions who lived under different restrictions.

Emerging themes

The research team are currently investigating the data acquired in the Coronavirus, Church & You survey across a number of themes including:

  • Attitudes to the handling of the pandemic restrictions by the Church, locally and nationally, as well as Government and other bodies
  • Practical information on how respondents either received or offered different types of ministry during the lockdown
  • Opinions on how the Church, at many levels, will be impacted in the long-term by the pandemic
  • How the pandemic has impacted upon respondents’ faith, sense of community, prayerfulness and wellbeing
  • Differences between the impact of the pandemic on the clergy and on the laity

Some food for thought…

The following are some statistics from the survey that might prompt some conversations.

  • 87% of all respondents were laypeople, with over half of this cohort being female
  • While prior to Covid-19, 47% of respondents attended mass weekly, 91% of respondents indicated they accessed church services online
  • There were some differences in how ordained respondents felt about the handling of the pandemic by the church at local vs national level in comparison with lay respondents:
    • 49% of ordained respondents and 54% of lay respondents agreed with ‘My denomination at the national level has responded well to the crisis’
    • 65% of ordained respondents and 59% of lay respondents agreed with ‘The churches in my area have responded well to the crisis’
    • 36% of ordained respondents and 53% of lay respondents agreed with ‘My denomination at the national level has done a good job of leading us in prayer’
  • On how Church will be impacted upon in the long-term:
    • 63% of all respondents agreed with ‘Lockdown is a great chance to rethink the Church’s future’
    • 66% of all respondents agreed with ‘We will appreciate better Church as it normally is’
    • 63% of all respondents agreed with ‘The celebration of the sacraments will have a deeper meaning’
    • 19% of all respondents agreed with ‘Online worship is the way ahead for the next generation’
  • On a personal level:
    • 74% of all respondents felt more thankful
    • 33% of all respondents felt closer to Church
    • 56% of all respondents felt closer to God
    • 57% of all respondents felt more prayerful
    • 19% of all respondents felt more unhappy
    • 33% of all respondents felt more anxious
    • 42% of all respondents felt more hopeful

Update: In January 2021, the research team have launched a follow-up survey called Covid-19 & Church-21.  For more, see here.

 

If you would like to read more about spirituality and the COVID-19 pandemic, please see the recent article by DCU’s Dr. Amalee Meehan on RTÉ Brainstorm at the following link:

'Is there a Spiritual side to the COVID-19 pandemic?'