New research by the Institute for Ecclesial Statistics has shown the average age of attendees in children’s liturgy across the United Kingdom is 52 and there are nine adults for each child. In one Basildon group there were no children at all, just four Irish retirees and a dog.
’The reasons remain unclear,’ said Professor Hoffen who conducted the study, ’but we’ve noticed adult attendance is in inverse proportion both with the length of the sermon and the temperature of the church. It seems the adults are keen to spend as long as possible in the hall, the presbytery or even on the cold sacristy floor.’
In one Kent church the leader is known as the Pied Piper because when she leads the children out half of the congregation follow. It is believed there is an underground market for the borrowing of children before Mass in order to avoid the Priest’s twenty-minute homilies. Young parents happily lend their children to near-strangers for the chance of a good sleep during Mass, it is alleged.
In an anonymous North London parish attendees even employ a secret barista to make coffees for the adults during Children’s Liturgy. Though it is not officially acknowledged or sanctioned by the clergy, it runs a tidy profit for the church so it is rumoured the Priest and Deacon turn a blind eye.
When asked why so many adults seem keen to escape, Bishop McIllnerney who is responsible for Family Ministry in England and Wales said ’Given half the chance I’d be there myself!’