I can truly say I have no idea what the solution here might be…
Our parish used to be really thriving until about 20 years ago, when numbers began to fall. However, over the past 5 - 10 years, Mass attendance has really dropped off to the extent that there are possibly about 1/3 of the numbers there used to be and sometimes a lot less than that.
On the other hand, the primary school (that’s aged 4 to 11) is over-subscribed every year, because a Catholic school, in a rural area, with small classes is still seen as being a good (and free) education.
The sad thing is, so many parents want to take advantage of the education, but never go near Mass themselves; nor do their children. If every parent came to one of the services, that would be around 120 additional adult parishoners, plus their children. These parents still want the Church to be there for baptisms, weddings and funerals, but leave it to a handful of increasingly aged volunteers to take on responsibilities like cleaning, flowers, choir and tresurer.
Should the school be actively and openly telling pupils they should be attending Mass every Sunday? To me, the answer should be ‘yes’. I was at the same school in the 70s/ 80s and the basics of Catholicism were really a part of everything we did. At my secondary school, the current ethos was ‘don’t come over as judgemental - you might alientate someone / upset someone’ so I actually ended up learning nothing about a lot of the more ‘adult’ topics.
We are definitely in danger of losing our church and although on one hand I applaud people for wanting to feel part of the Catholic Community enough to make the effort to arrange baptism / church weddings etc; I do find myself feeling resentful that it is left to a handful of people to keep the parish going and they just swan in when they want a ‘family do’ and to keep up appearances! This, of course, is wrong of me - and if they didn’t appear for key events in their lives and make appropriate donations - we’d have even less funds to keep going.
It’s almost like we few are subsidising their spritual lives and they are subsidising the physical infrastructure of the church buildings etc.
The big question is, how can we change this situation?