Mass attendance census
Some people have expressed their disappointment at the fact the Catholic Church has not carried out a Mass attendance census since 2005. I remember a time when this survey was never conducted, a time when the Maltese flocked to church for Sunday Mass. It was also a time when they attended, in great numbers, spiritual exercises during Lent.
During this spiritual golden age it was customary for seminarians to make collections to help the seminary financially. They used to give the congregation a holy picture which included a prayer for vocations. This holy picture served two purposes: first, as a thank-you for the contribution, and second, as a survey to find out the number attending these spiritual exercises.
Over the years the Church and the seminary in particular noticed that the number of Maltese attending these spiritual exercises was dwindling. Eventually seminarians ceased to make their collections during these exercises and started collecting during weekend Masses.
Now these financial collections by seminarians are still carried out during the weekend Masses in Lent. So, although the professional Mass attendance census has not taken place last year, the Catholic Church still has a rough idea of how many Maltese are attending Mass at the weekend.
The Church carries out this indirect census on Mass attendance every year.