What could be done to most improve Sunday Mass attendance?


In your opinion, what could be done to most improve Sunday Mass attendance in your parish? Things that are actually controllable at the parish level? My top 5 would be:

  1. Celebrate ALL Masses in a highly reverent manner.

  2. Spend the resources to craft and support the Masses – good music and capable musicians, carefully selected and well-trained ministers, etc.

  3. If the parish is large enough, “tune” Masses to their audiences, e.g. Family Mass, Solemn Mass, Teen/College Mass, etc.

  4. Ongoing adult catechesis focused on the liturgy. (I would recommend 5 minute or less lessons that effectively complete homilies.)

  5. Fellowship hour following each Mass.


If I’m going to put myself in the shoes of most people my age…it’s usually an issue of not being religious in general. So evangelization, Bible studies etc would help.

Eg youth conferences, retreats, Bible studies can help spark the love for God and it’s probably also where they are told that they HAVE to attend mass anyway.

Ultimately it’s not about the frillings. If people find mass terrible but they believe it’s a must, they would still go


Lots of people fade away and stop attending Mass because it becomes little more than a weekly ticket-punching process. Well crafted and executed Masses (no matter their level of “frillings”) can most certainly help stem that flow.


I honestly doubt 1, 2, 3 or 5 are going to change Mass attendance to any significant degree. 4 might. The people who come to Mass are the people who are going to come to Mass. Maybe approach the problem slightly differently. Advertise. I mean at local events. That is a form of Evangelization, which I suspect we need more of.

I mentioned in another thread a while ago that one of our parishes most popular “Bible Studies” was on tying the Rosary to the Bible. I asked Father to announce everyone in attendance gets a free rosary. I bought a couple hundred from Pauline Bookstore for that purpose and the study was indeed well attended. But even that didn’t change Mass attendance all that much.

Many Catholics today are the Luke warm type that Christ said would be vomited out.

Get them to understand the Faith.
Get them to understand the Mass.
Get them to practice their Faith

Then you can possibly make a difference with the “externals”.



I’m from a large parish and we have 3 mass a Sunday and they are all full

  1. Have groups of parishioners sit outside during the day and hand out free coffee and tea to passersby and hand them a bulletin and invite them to come dine with the King.


If people are not going to Mass without reason then most likely they don’t believe in the Real Presence. Otherwise they would be doing all they can to attend daily. So the parish should look to itself on how this happened and what are they doing that is causing this unbelief.


I find as well it depend on the preist .We have a new parish preist who everyone loves and the number of parishioner has gone up


Having a well done Mass is important but that must come from the priest(s) on down. Well trained ministers is extremely important. It’s not that lay ministers have to execute their role perfectly but they must know what to do when there an incident of some sort.

I agree with adult catechesis but I’m not sure about using the homily time for that unless it can be tied to the readings.


Absolutely, but most parishes don’t have control over who they receive in the way or priests.

We once once two marvelous parochial vicars. Two young men that where just wonderful. Despite a difficult pastor, Mass attendance grew due to the PVs. I think both would have made excellent pastors – one possibly even a bishop one day, had they not been laicised so they could get married (NOT to one another!)

It can work the other way too. Another parish in town received a rather difficult pastor. Our census improved because of it.


So? Does everyone in town attend your parish? Why don’t you have 7 or 8 filled Masses?


Excellent point. I believe perfunctory celebrated Masses and utilitarian Masses lead to the loss of the belief in the Real Presence. When the priestly celebrant motions for everyone to sit (and sits himself), before the Most Blessed Sacrament is reposed, what is that saying to the faithful?


Good idea. I know some that would scoff at your suggestion, and in some places it might not have much of an impact, but in other places (like my parish), it could potentially make a huge difference given its location.


A rural or suburban parish it would be ill advised, almost definitely.

But at an urban parish, especially inner city, I could see it making a HUGE impact.


Agreed 100%

The problem is that in many parishes, there are a lot of late arrivers/early leavers.


Priests—at least many that I know and have spoken to—do a fair bit of administration. I was blown away with how much “paperwork” and business administration they need to do.

A lot of their time is taken up by the above, and then many here have at least two funerals a week on.

Lack of Sunday Mass attendance is the visible symptom of an strong undercurrent, which is made up of many different aspects.

Honestly, my two local parishes offer 9:30am Italian Masses, one then has a 10:30am Mass in English and the other has a 11am Mass in English. Personally, I wake up before 5am and would love to see a 7am or 8am Sunday morning Mass but that isn’t going to happen. I would have to travel into the CBD to get this.

A lot of the parish activities are also during the working week—like a prayer circle at 10am on a Tuesday. Perhaps moving it to after or before Mass would increase attendance.

Much of what is going on in parishes here is for the retired or SAH-parents.


Personally invite people to Mass.


Yep. That’s a good one. How about systematically going back through the parish census and personally contacting those that no longer attend – or in the case of my parish, those that have been dead for over 20 years?


I don’t even know what that means.

I named 4 items.

Thank you for the vote of confidence.


While I’m certain it is not the case where you worship, but, most parishes in the US employ staff who work to keep accurate records.

ETA because no parish wants to pay the Diocese MORE than they have to!! By keeping dead or inactive people on the records, it hits the parish in the pocketbook.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.