Chapter 16 Ecclesia domestica and the Role of the Home in Sustaining Churchgoing among Catholics: An Empirical Enquiry among 8- to 14-year-olds in Australia

In: Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, Volume 31
Authors:
Leslie J. Francis
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Ursula McKenna
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Ruth Powell
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Abstract

Catholic teaching since the time of the Second Vatican Council has emphasised the importance of the home in the nurture of young Catholics (sometimes referred to as ecclesia domestica). Drawing on data from 2,131 young people between the ages of 8 and 14 years who completed surveys while attending Catholic churches as part of the 2016 Australian National Church Life Survey, this study employed multiple regression modelling to examine the effects of parental church attendance (treating mother and fathers separately) and home environment (in terms of family encouragement and religious engagement within the home) on frequency of child church attendance. The data demonstrated that parental church attendance is the strongest predictor. Young Catholics are more likely to attend church frequently if both mother and father come to church a lot. Moreover, after taking parental church attendance into account the home environment adds additional predictive power. Young Catholics are most likely to attend church frequently if both parents attend church and support faith within the home environment through both family encouragement and religious engagement within the home. When parental churchgoing and home environment have been taken into account, the external factors of engaging with online religious resources and of attending a Catholic school add no further positive predictive power in sustaining churchgoing among young Catholics.

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