Last Sunday, at the invitation of a friend, I attended Mass at St Charbel's Maronite Church at Punchbowl, Sydney. That mass is popularly known as the youth mass, because it is said in English whereas the other masses on Sunday are said in Arabic. My friend and his family go to that Mass for that reason as no one in his family understands Arabic.
The Mass is the ordinary one proper to the day. There is no attempt to play down to young people. No jazzy music - just the holy Mass.
I was most agreeably surprised. Not only was that church packed with standing room only, but the number of young people, mainly young males between 18 and 25, was greater than one would find in an ordinary Catholic church, taking all the Masses on a Sunday into consideration.
What is the secret? Obviously, we have something to learn from them. And it is not only in regard to church attendance, either. Next door is a monastery where there are at least a dozen monks.
I do not envy the Maronite rite. I hear Mass at a church where it is celebrated in Latin and I much prefer that. What I do envy, though, is the significant number of young people compared to an average Catholic church.
Hurlstone Park, NSW