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Archdiocese of Sydney thrives with younger generations

Sydney Australia Opera House | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 08/16/23

Those belonging to the Millennial and Gen Z age groups make up over a quarter of Sydney's Catholic population, higher than the national average.

After returning home from WYD 2023, one Australian archdiocese is being highlighted for its high rate of retention in the Millennial and Gen Z age groups. A new diocesan profile has shown that the number of active Catholic young people aged 20-39 throughout the Archdiocese of Sydney is much higher than in the rest of the country. 

Catholic Weekly reported on a 2021 analysis of census data, which found that Sydney’s share of young adult Catholics is a few percentage points higher than the national average. This is important to the archdiocese, as the majority of their faithful are getting older and Millennials and Gen Z’ers will soon be the primary demographic. 

According to the data, about 14% of Sydney’s Catholic population is between the ages of 30-39, which is 2 points higher than the national average and only half a point lower than the previous census. Meanwhile, those aged 20-29 account for 12.5%, also 2 points higher than the average. Together those aged 20-39 make up just over a quarter of Sydney’s Catholics, meaning 1 in 4 Catholics in the city are in the prime of their lives.

The city of Sydney is bucking the aging trend of the Church in Australia, with an average age of 40 compared to the national average of 43. The city is nearly a quarter Catholic (22.9%), which is higher than the 20% recorded in the national average. Much of this growth compared to the rest of the country, however, comes from overseas. 

The report noted that migrants make up about 36% of Sydney’s Catholic population, with the majority of these coming from non-European countries with the exception of Italy, most commonly from the Philippines, Iraq, Vietnam, and Lebanon, but also from Latin America, Brazil, and Colombia. 

Daniel Ang, the director of the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation, noted that the high rates of Church attendance in the younger generations is encouraging for the future of the Church. He said: 

“It is heartening to see a slightly stronger affiliation with the Catholic faith in Sydney among this cohort (19-40 year olds) compared to the national average,” Ang said. “It’s a period of life in which many people are discerning vocation and making life commitments, having families and when faith can be introduced to the next generation.

Read the full report at Catholic Weekly.

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