Study to reveal how practising Catholics coped with COVID

A Mass celebrated by Fr Lam Vu is livestreamed from Our Lady of the Rosary church in Caloundra, Queensland, in June  (The Catholic Leader/Fr Josh Whitehead)

Australian Catholics who normally attended Sunday Mass before COVID-19 restrictions are being invited to take part in a research project exploring the psychological impact of church closures. Source: The Catholic Leader.

Philippa Martyr, a Perth Catholic completing a graduate diploma in Psychology at Monash University in Western Australia, is studying the effect that the nationwide dispensation of Sunday obligation and ongoing Mass restrictions has had on the fewer than 10 per cent of Catholics who go to Mass.

As a former medical historian who has researched the history of healthcare and sociology of health and illness, Ms Martyr has found her “perfect storm”, a chance to study the psychological impact the global pandemic has had on Australia's 623,000 practising Catholics.

“That’s a nice group to study, that’s a nice population, it’s clearly defined, and there’s not a lot known about them in terms of psychology and spirituality, that interface between the two,” she said.

“Particularly the loss of being able to go to church because that’s so fundamental, and we know churchgoing has mental health benefits.

“So you take that away, what’s going to happen? We don’t know, that’s what I’m trying to find out in this study.”

Through an online survey, Ms Martyr is collecting data for her honours project that focuses on health psychology.

The survey is open to all practising Catholics – including clergy and religious – over the age of 18.

Ms Martyr said some individual bishops have already expressed an interest in the study’s results, which are timely given this year’s Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s social justice statement focuses on mental health.

To complete Ms Martyr’s survey, go to


Survey is asking how Australian Catholics coped during COVID-19 lockdown (By Emilie Ng, The Catholic Leader)


Catholics during COVID - how and what did we do? (The Southern Cross)

Study to look at how pandemic affects prayer (Melbourne Catholic)

Survey to reveal pandemic prayer life (The Catholic Weekly)

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