Yesterday I went to a mass at a parish that I usually don’t attend. The church was just so empty. 75 people in a space for 500. And 60 of them were over 65 (at least). I overlooked the liturgical abuse. That also makes me sad but I’ve just learned to deal with it. What amazed me is how fast a parish can go down the tubes. 10 years ago it had double the current membership, a 500 student school (closed last year with 80 students enrolled for this year) and an attendance triple of what it is now. I actually love this church’s building/location. It is right off of the interstate and is an easy place to get to. I wish I could do something but I feel like I can’t in this parish. It also bothers me that they have 6 EMHCs when only 75 show up. I’m an EMHC and this kind of bothers me. It just seems excessive. The thing that made me happy actually was seeing a homeless man at mass. He did not stay for communion (I can’t judge why) but he did come. I saw him with his shopping cart outside of the church and it made me really happy to know he was coming.
I’ve heard that the key to strengthening a parish is starting a Perpetual Adoration ministry. Maybe some Exposition starting with first Fridays each month will liven up the place?
One statistic, in 2012, by Pew Research, is that:“The share of all Catholics who say they attend Mass at least once a week has dropped from 47% in 1974 to 24% in 2012; among “strong” Catholics, it has fallen more than 30 points, from 85% in 1974 to 53% last year.”
Also…the U.S. Catholic population has been heavily shaped by immigration and includes a rising share of Latinos. This is evident in the age structure of the U.S. Catholic population, in which nearly half of Catholics under age 40 are Hispanic (47%), compared with about one-in-six (16%) Catholics 65 and older.
This is something that has also happened at our parish, and it is sad. I remember when the Holy Communion line used to go on forever, and now it’s over in the blink of an eye. I remember when the church used to overflow with people on Good Friday. Times have changed!
It is so sad that some parishes are dying.
But there are some that are not.
We are currently adding on to our parish building. Why? Standing room only at Mass. Not having enough classrooms for Sunday school. Funny thing is, we just moved into our new parish building a few years ago.
Where is the Pastor in this?
What is the Parish Council doing about this?
What efforts are being made by the Parish to outreach to the community?
500 students to 80… where was the research to find out what was happening to enrollment? There had to be a reason and this didn’t just “happen overnight!”
What we in my Parish Council have found is that all too often, we’re set and complacent in our ways, becoming LAZY and not going after the younger members of the community to make them disciples - getting them to “Buy In” to the Parish and take some ownership.
Being a convert, I’ve found that the Catholic Church is all too often too quiet about its activities. Take for example… we did a Halloween trunk party… the first year, just a few people came. When we started asking the younger members where they were, they had gone to the Lutheran Trunk party… when asked why, it was because it was advertised in the local paper in the events section and announced on the local radio station for weeks… guess what, cost just a few dollars for a week run for non-profits and religious for both the paper and the radio… we made sure that we placed the ad for next year… filled the parking lot! Had a free will donation box, stuffed full - same thing for the dance.
If you lose the young families in the Parish, you lose the Church, and the Evil-One does a nice little jigg on the graves of the faithful.
Next year, hopefully we can get enough volunteers to set up a Saint’s Haunted House…
“Turn me over,” he said to the judge. “I’m done on this side!”
Halloween and Evangelization… YEA!
Now I’m not saying we need a circus, there are also very serious programs out there that should (IMHO) be looked into and started:
The other thing we have done is started a TMIY program in our parish for the men!
Lose the Men in the parish, lose the families, lose the Church, and and the Evil-One does a nice little jigg on the graves of the faithful.
Where is the bible study group? Start one and get it into the local events… Join us at Saint Empty Pews as we unwrap the mysteries of the Gospel of Luke. All welcome to join and attend!
Adoration… YES! ABSOLUTELY even if starts with only the noon hour on first Saturdays! Announce it every Sunday when Adoration will be!
Where are the Ladies Guilds? Have they altered their methods and meetings to accommodate the new paradigm of the working family? Many of our Ladies Guilds were meeting at 10am or 3pm in the middle of the week… guess what, a very large number of our women are a work at those times. May have worked 50 years ago when some of these guilds started; however, doesn’t work now and the older members have fought us tooth and nail to change the schedules to meet the needs of the families in our Parish. They are coming around after seeing the improvement in attendance with a few that did change the schedule… and they need to spend a little money too.
What is being done for the youth? During the school year we have an “Hour of Power”
We have younger priest as Chaplin in our school, he’s worked on getting music, scripture readings, witnessing by the teens to things going on in their lives… finally an hour of ADORATION! I went once… nothing like seeing 200 teens, on a Saturday Night, on their knees, with the blessed sacrament exposed in the monstrance on the alter, silently praying… made me tingle.
AND WE INVITE ALL OF THE CITY’s YOUTH TO ATTEND! Not just the Catholics (although that’s the majority that show up - note, majority… some are bringing friends from the other faiths to these worship events! )
Sundays, we have a late evening “Youth Mass.” That’s right, the teens are the lectors, the emhc (and they have mandates from the Bishop!), choir, servers… now it’s a legitimate Mass, so Father still has to give the Homily, and he’s quite good at engaging the kids, and the consecration… but this Mass is often packed! Young families, teens that drive themselves to Mass. YEA! AMOF: My older daughter was one of the servers tonight.
Of course… these are only my opinion and the Pastor has to support the laity in the acts.
Yes, but it wasn’t that long ago when the “Hour of Power” was drawing 3,000 every Sunday and millions or so were watching on TV, until they filed for bankruptcy.
Something more sustainable is required but I don’t have an answer. It’s probably just that part of society which doesn’t need religion anymore, I guess.
Try St Louis Bertrand at 6th and St Catherine streets or St Martin of Tours at Shelby and Broadway.
Well since you live in Louisville (I assume) you have lots of parishes to choose from. I’m sure you know of the better ones.
:eek: Please don’t confuse the two… “The Hour of Power” on TV was (is) a protestant - evangelical, money making business and has absolutely nothing to do with what we are doing at our parish.
It is unfortunate that the names are the same.
We need to be careful about making assumptions.
Sometimes, the demographics of neighborhoods change, often due to closures of major companies that once provided jobs, or due to closures of public schools for various reasons, usually related to costs of keeping a smaller school (number of students) open.
This has happened in our city over and over. We used to be the Number One Machine Tool and Die manufacturing center in the WORLD, and the factories hummed 24/7, employing tens of thousands of people who populated the neighborhoods around the factories. But now many of those neighborhoods are filled only with the poor, who live in the smaller houses built right after the war (WWII and Korean). Most of those who once worked in those factories and populated those charming neighborhoods have either died, or retired to nicer homes in the pretty developments outside of the city.
Sometimes neighborhoods fail to attract young working families or young working singles because they don’t have big enough houses (the trend nowadays is to live in castles with “bedroom suites,” not just bedrooms!), and the older folks in the neighborhood pass away, which of course means less people in the neighborhood.
Sometimes as neighborhoods lose families, the “gangs” and other criminal elements move in and make the neighborhood literally a dangerous battle ground. Going to church in that neighborhood is taking a risk that many people aren’t willing to take.
If a neighborhood population decreases, it makes sense that all the churches in that neighborhood, not just the Catholic parish, will see a decreasing attendance.
In many cities, the diocese has consolidated parishes for cost-saving purposes. Of course it’s so sad when a favorite parish is closed down. But it’s the way things are. The diocese has to practice wise and practical stewardship of the monies entrusted to them in the form of offerings, tithes, and pledges. It makes no sense to keep an older church building open in a neighborhood that no longer has the vibrant population to keep that parish going.
Finally, I offer this possibility–it’s possible that even if the parish in question is in a great neighborhod, there may have been a "scandal’ that decimated the attendance. IMO, this would explain the rather rapid decline of that parish’s attendance. So sad, and hopefully I’m wrong about this.
Yes, I know what you meant. But the point is that (and I think Cat just addressed it as well) that things can go from boom to bust in a very short time. From bust to boom, not that fast.
Around my area, the senior centers are attracting people. Free lunches, field trips, movies, bridge games, etc. This has to take away from those who would otherwise be attending Daily Mass, for example.
I believe the Parish my wife and I are part of must be doing something right… upwards of 1k people attend normally every week. At 11am Mass, it seems over half are young families with newborns or young children. Our Parish school has over 300 kids attending.
The Archdiocese in general is having something called “Theology On Tap” for 20 and 30 somethings, which is this month. It is at a local pub, is weekly, with different speakers coming every week. They provide snacks and drinks/beer to enjoy. My wife and I have been going every week. Then there is another summer week long event for teens where they pray, do skits, readings, and of course include Mass. This happens while the teens are on summer vacation. This week it is at our Parish. Then a normal thing at our Parish is a young adult group that meets once a month with guest speakers. Usually happens fall through spring.
Our Priest is in his 30s. He is very relate-able in his message to daily life. He is also very respectful, reverent, and has a calming presence about him. We are very lucky to have him. We have a very active group of people volunteering and helping grow the Church. It is really a great thing to see.
I am sorry to say you see some Parish’s like this. I have seen some in different areas as well. It seems like they lose touch with evolving in different ways. I am not saying evolve the Mass at all (as I am a strong believer in the traditions/solemnity of the Mass), but do things with the Parish community, and maybe even going all the way up to the Diocese/Archdiocese like ours has been doing.
An interesting thing I have been noting here… is that different Parish’s partner up for these type of things so they can pool resources. We have four involved with the Theology On Tap event to help pay for it. To me, it definitely makes sense in helping make these things happen.
As Cat noted, demographics play a big role. Neighborhoods change. Immigrant parishes tend to decline rapidly once the immigration slows. But there’s a “secular” decline in religiosity in the West as well since the 1960’s.
When you look at the 75 or so people over 60; you are witnessing the prayer warriors. They are the ones who, like monks and nuns, are praying for your salvation and the salvation of the world. Instead of being depressed, be grateful. Instead of denigrating, rejoice and join them.
Thank you for all your responses. I appreciate the suggestions of St. Martin of Tours and St. Louis but I am not a huge fan of their music or the way they do liturgy. I’m only 17 and the parish I attend on a regular basis with my family is probably one of the most progressive (Roman) Catholic Churches in the Midwest. I actually enjoy attending parishes like this. I think they are often very welcoming. I enjoy these inner-city regular parishes that are like the one I recently visited because they offer me an interesting view on liturgy and make me feel very welcomed. I love the older parishioners, by the way. I just find it saddening when they are all that I see.
It seems that all of my posts are advising “be careful” this morning.
I rejoice with you about your growing parish.
I would advise you to be careful about placing too much confidence in the presence of a certain priest.
Priests are not their own free agents, but must go where they are sent by their bishop. Your good priest may be sent to another parish, and the priest assigned to your parish might be the polar opposite of your current priest.
This can be very frustrating for parishioners who see all their hard work seem to disintegrate. OTOH, we should never try to judge what God is doing–perhaps that new priest was assigned to your parish because one person needed to hear something that the priest will say one day in a homily.
Anyway, don’t pin any hopes on a priest. Instead, work hard to build up the “family of God” with other parishioners and look to your priest to do his work, which is to pray for the Church (Daily Office) and offer Mass. If your priest has other gifts and talents, be grateful while you have him, and be generous about sharing him with others when he is called to leave you.
Oh believe me, it is in the back of my mind. I believe our Parish has actually been through a few different Priests in the past 10-15 years. I have only been a member of it for about 2 years. Our Priest came in 2011. It was the same Parish he went to school when he was young. It is a vibrant, active Parish in general. I have no doubt it most likely was before as well. In regards to Priests, we actually have two of them and two Deacons. I like our Associate Priest as well when he does the Mass, so that helps IMO.
I presently am working with our Director of Music in helping with a few technical projects she is working on. It is the part of the Mass I feel most passionate about (as you probably have seen in my other posts), so I figure I should help out in that aspect any way that I can.
In the meantime, I will thank God that we have our current Priest at our church, and won’t take his time here for granted.
Iowa is becoming more and more urban with every passing year. In the suburb of Des Moines were I live 3 years ago, the Diocese launched a 2nd parish and construction is currently underway for their church & K-8 school. IIRC, this is the first new parish launched in the Diocese in roughly 20 years.
As the Des Moines suburbs continue to explode in growth (my community will be conducting a specail census count later this year to determine actual population), it wouldn’t surprise me that another new Parish will be launched somewhere in the suburbs.