Catholic Church attenders - missing spirituality?

My parish has about 200 to 250 regular attenders best I can tell.

If there is an extra offering outside Mass - book study or a class - we often get about 6 to 10 people that show up. Why is this number so low?

When I try to engage other parish members in conversation about scripture or faith, it’s really hard to start, and often does not last long.

I feel like a lot of the congregation is missing that joy that should come from knowing Christ. Even the person that works in the church office and our religious Ed director seem to fall in to this category often. Any idea why?

Well… Yes that can be a trend, but it also depends where you go.

Many Catholics are busy people in a secular world. They fulfill their obligations, say the prayers and leave. That’s a reflection of larger society and perhaps poor faith formation.

However, there are more faithful people around. Novenas, adorations, rallies, national shrines, lay person ministries, prayer groups, and other church events tend to include more involved people. You have to do a little extra leg work to find them, but it might be worth it. You could also find mass at a monastery with nuns or monks.

In any event, regular mass is more about Jesus than it is about fellowship. I do not think that is necessarily a bad thing.

While you can experience joy in the Catholic Church, emotional experiences are not required to know you have faith and a true connection to Jesus through his church.

Well, for one thing, a small parish like this will have very small numbers of people in the various activities even if the percent participating is similar to that of large parishes. For example, in a parish of 2000 people, if five percent go to a book study, that’s a hundred people. In your church it would be only ten.

It also sounds like there may be a lack of enthusiasm that’s a little bit contagious. If people around you are unenthused, it can make you feel the same way.

I’d encourage you to be a light, and see this as an opportunity to show others the joy and spirit that is probably in them also, just waiting to be expressed.

Give the benefit of a doubt, too. You may have an unusually high number of down-in-the-mouth people, who are actually helped by the church, and would be even worse if they weren’t members there.

People have lots of different interests and styles, You may be excited when you hear that a class is being offered while someone else remembers how much they hated school and would never want to attend such an evenr.

People also have different ways of expressing their faith, One wants to discuss scripture while another is more interested in feeding the hungry, being part of a third order, joining a prayer chain, or caring for their children,

As Paul said, we’re all parts of one body, It’s all good,

When is the book study? If it’s right after Mass is one thing, if it’s on a different day of the week that’s quite another. Particularly weeknights.

That said even if it’s after mass, as has been mentioned people often have other obligations on their time do to the world we live in. And weekends are often the limited time each week those obligations can be met. They’ve met their religious obligation by going to mass and like a check box on a list, it’s been checked, time to move on to the next item on the weekend’s to do list. It may not be the most spiritually fulfilling thing to do, but sometimes the reality of the world doesn’t allow us but the brief respite of mass to consider and appreciate Christ fully and completely.

Instead of focusing on how many aren’t saying for book study or other extra activities, focus on the fact you have 200-250 Christians attending mass each week to worship the Lord. That seems a great thing in the modern world to my mind.

Devout Catholics are already spending much more time in Church than the typical protestant.

We go to confession on Saturday, Mass usually on Sunday. We also go to Mass on holy days of obligation. Some go to Mass during the week as well (I try to go midweek). We also go to adoration at times.

So as you can see we aren’t starved for Church activity because we are doing plenty in and around the Church already. If you are a protestant you are likely starved for more Church because you only have Church on Sunday and then a potluck dinner on Weds if you are lucky.(generally speaking)

People have jobs, families and lives outside the Church to attend to so they are only going to do so much. I wouldn’t read too much into it.

Another thing to consider is that all parishes are not the same. Find a Charismatic parish and you get more joy there than other places.


We don’t do those evening things as near as often as we used to. Too far, too tired, too old. :wink:

There are a lot of ways to do studies at home. Last year husband & I borrowed Matthew Kelly’s Confirmation series. Excellent, even for us older folks.

You say conversations on Scripture or faith are hard to start & don’t last long. You might be approaching it wrong. I avoid certain people who want to talk about those subjects, but gravitate to others who do. It’s a matter of style & personal interest, as those subjects cover a lot of ground! You want to talk to me about miracles or apparitions? I’m not interested. But when a friend went on a pilgrimage I loved hearing about his experience. Why? Because he talked about different aspects - the journey itself, the people he met, and his personal spiritual growth.

All good points - I like it here at Catholic Answers. It’s a nice group to be a part of.

Thanks and God Bless,

My parish has Bible Study every two weeks on Sunday nights. We have a pretty large turnout for a Bible Study.

However, in my experience, the issue is that most (not all) Parishes tend to scheduled events that work well for the people who typically come… the older parishioners.

Older parishioners typically do not have young children at home, etc.

I personally believe that we Catholics should take a page from many Protestant communities by offering free babysitting during adult faith formation programs and devotions.

Babysitting could either be a paid job or even better a ministry. Could even include some free & fun Catholic activities during the babysitting.

When there is truly a family event at my parish, a large number attend. But those events are usually just fellowship, but a younger family can bring the little ones.

I truly believe that we offer free babysitting at parish events, more younger families will attend.

ALSO - this is also why is such an outstanding resource for parishes. With FORMED, parishioners can take part in studies at home, watch Catholic movies, etc. We find that the more a parishioner uses FORMED, the more involved they eventually become.

Finally, I would like to remind people that unlike our Protestant brothers & sisters, the Catholic Church is larger than just our Parish. Our Diocese is technically our local Church. I know many Catholics who are not really involved with their parish, but are involved with things across the diocese. They are members of Opus Dei, third orders, and/or diocesan or regional Catholic groups focused on spirituality, prayer, chastity, God in the workplace, etc. So many Catholics receive Catholic fellowship, etc outside their parish too.

To Lenten_ashes: nope, generally speaking this is not true of protestants churches. Usually, they have services on Sunday morning AND a prayer service Sunday night. Lots of stuff happening during the week with Bible studies, mom’s-day-out programs, and other groups that meet for ministry or fellowship. Services for young people are Wednesday, Friday and/or Saturdays. They are generally hubs of activities, ministries and fellowship. That said, they do that BECAUSE they are starving. I was one of them all of my adult life until converting to Eastern Catholicism.

To the OP, you got some great feedback as to why the missing numbers for outside-of-mass events. You can help with the gaps in fellowship at your parish, coordinate a weekly/monthly breakfast, host a Bible study (check out ), talk to your priest about the needs of parishioners. For instance, he may know of people with no transportation to Sunday Mass, help coordinate rides for them.

We must see Christ in everyone

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

An example,

This is very true, because of the summer hiatus that some parishes go through that leaves new converts/reverts fending for themselves after their Easter entrance, I myself found ministries outside of my parish, a few of those Catholic.

Generally speaking you’d need to qualify that by denomination at the very least I think. Plenty of Protestant denominations and/or parishes have a lot more than just that going on.

My own parish has 3 masses on Sunday, an Evensong on Sunday, Daily Morning prayer 6 days a week, daily evening prayer 5 days a week, Mass weekdays at noon, and Saturday evening Mass.

And those are just the big worship opportunities. Never mind Wednesday Fellowship events like bible studies, weekly forums between the 8 and 10:30 mass, weekly brunches with the Dean, Sunday bible studies around, plus a plethora of other not regularly scheduled events every week. We’re not starving for more Church, if anything we’re overwhelmed by all the Church we can take in and a bit sad for the things we’ll inevitably miss. :thumbsup:

Hearts must be open to increased spirituality. What you are called to do is to show them that your joy in living comes from your deep relationship with God.indeed, we do not know the state of their heart or of their spirituality. Some are simply not called to the group setting.

You are praying for them daily correct?

Was not my experience as a 13 year protestant from various denominations. I never understood why we only had actual service on Sundays.

Usually something going on midweek like potluck dinner or bible study but that’s about it.:shrug: and even then it may not even be at the church, but at somebody’s home.:shrug:

This problem is along the lines of privatization of religion. We have made religious discussion a private affair that is almost forbidden in polite company.
Explicit discussions about Jesus Christ will get you you a surprised look and a slow back a way.

Private religion is a luxury.

You folks are Catholic-lite, you dont count as church starved lol.

Most of my time as a protestant was in the fundamentalist churches. Like i was saying in another post, you do have midweek stuff but it may not even be in the Church… You may have to go to someone’s house for that, and that can be a little awkward and discouraging. Personally i think all churches shpuld offer service everyday, just my opinion

I dont know The OPs parish but im thinking plenty of those folks are devout and doing more than just Sunday mass.

Nowadays im afraid it could cost me my job.

You have a higher turnout than our parish. We managed 5 people once (3 were from other parishes). We can only pray, hope, keep offering and discerning. I am not sure why there is such a lack of interest in our city (there is the same enthusiasm at other parishes).

Different Protestant churches have different ministries. Most of the churches I was involved in had 2 services on Sunday, and various midweek prayer meetings or Bible studies. Not to mention social outings for the teens & young adults. And I loved the meetings at other people’s homes. It was so - homey. :slight_smile:

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