First off, as the previous poster said, there are plenty of parishes that have lively “parish life.”
But a lot of parishes had their parish life killed off, in the aftermath of Vatican II, by well-meaning people who thought they understood Vatican II to mean that you shouldn’t have the Legion of Mary going out evangelizing for Jesus door to door anymore, that the Holy Name Society for men was worthless, that praying the Rosary was worthless, that the Altar Guild making vestments and altarcloths with their own hands was worthless, that kids learning apologetics and theology to defend the faith was worthless, etc., etc. People were told that everything they liked about being Catholic was wrong, or a waste of money, or taking bread from the poor, or evil. And that they were the only ones who were complaining, and that was disobedient and evil. (There wasn’t any Internet to help people compare notes among parishes, either, or to help people find out what the Vatican II documents actually said.)
If you really want to understand how total the die-off was, find a parish that has a collection of church bulletins online. My old parish used to have theirs up, and I wish I’d saved them all; they were very telling. Over the course of maybe five years in the late sixties, all the old church groups disappeared, except the Knights of Columbus, CYO sports, and the various Scout troops. All the new groups were pretty ephemeral. It took until maybe the 1980’s for new groups to take hold.
The ironic thing was that lay involvement in that parish was killed off mostly by laypeople, in the name of greater lay involvement. Yeah. Amazing how some people know what’s good for us. And it was a time when people actually harassed other people about how they prayed inside their own heads. Nothing like a little attempt at mind control to really mess up personal devotion.
So yes, parish life was gravely wounded in many places, and it hasn’t come back all the way yet. People were taught to be unsure about their religion and what would be showing up next week that they’d be expected to do, so you still get a lot of that. People were taught by experience that it was safer to keep their heads down and to drag their feet about changing anything or doing anything, so you still get a lot of that.
(And then, of course, there have always been a lot of Irish and other ethnic influences, which basically make people shy about talking about religion in public, or getting to know people quickly. But that’s a whole other post.)