What could be done to most improve Sunday Mass attendance?


Well, you certainly welcome to disagree. I bring evidence, you bring opinions. Start working with those who do not attend regularly, and then we can compare notes.


What “evidence”? Your opinions? One thing I am certain of is that MANY, MANY things could be done to improve Sunday Mass attendance. The problem I see in the Church is that many of them take strong leadership and hard work.

This is actually a very worthwhile thread. It shows a number of great ideas from several different individuals. It also shows the strong “no can do” attitude from some and a great many other things.


You are right, many things can be done to help improve Mass attendance.
However, if people don’t see any benefit in attending Mass, they won’t. No program is going to change that.
Change must come from within.
I spent many years away from the Church, it just didn’t fit into my lifestyle. And when I did come back, I was amazed at what I didn’t know or was never taught. ButI put in the effort because it was something that I wanted.

We can talk about all sorts of programs and things a parish can do, but those things will only help/benefit the people who are already there.
It’s the people who aren’t in Church we need to reach. I used to think that CAF was a good place to do this. I am not so sure now. If I were non-practicing and saw some of the threads here about how peopel feel about their parishes/priest and other lay people, the Catholic Church would be the last place you would ever find me.


That’s just awesome! That’s precisely the sort of stuff Catholics should do more of.

I was on a fitness walk a few weeks ago headed to a local university. A local non-Catholic church had put up flyers on public areas (bridge abutments, chain link fences, etc.) that were so well done that I went to their URL just to take a look around. Their website was equally impressive.

I would bet dollars to dimes though that if presented to many Catholic parishes, their ideas would be poo-pooed. “That won’t work here”, “that sort of stuff makes no difference”, “we tried that before”, “our risk manager won’t allow it”, etc.



Can’t you both consider that you both may have valid points without taking it so personally?


Everyone on this forum needs to hear this


After reading here, I guess I am really not in favor of ethnic parishes and I see why some bishops want to combine them. We should have learned the lesson fifty years ago. There is nothing like taking down segregation to build bonds and fight prejudice. The very nature of the Catholic Church and a source of strength is its universality. Referring again to First Corinthians 12, it is almost like we had one parish of the left foot, another of the hand, etc.


That was not taking it personally; nor do I think Duesenberg was. Sorry there is no inflection or tone of voice in internet musings.


In the past, Catholics and the Catholic church lead the way in outreach because we were the “new church” reaching out to the “unchurched” and we’ve been coasting on the Catholic hospitals, schools, charities that have been around for ages and the modern ones that are built on those traditions. But it’s still coasting. St. Maximilian Kolbe was a proponant of using modern technology to reach out but even with EWTN, CAF, et al, there is still plenty of room to try a different approach.

BTW, the pastor from that church has moved on and has “planted” a new church in a nearby city just like he did here. That’s what he’s good at and he’s not doing this on his own; there are teams that do this and some serve on site like this pastor and others lend support from afar. Surely there is something in this model that could be adapted to the Catholic church. I also think that the damage done by the scandals is an obstacle that needs to be addressed. I know it will take time to heal and I think that transparency is a part of the solution. Also, there need zero toloerance of any corruption, cliques, etc. That sours a lot of people who want to participate but don’t trust those in positions in the church or who are left out because a “group” already handles something, whether it’s a bible study, CCD , the music and environmentt, or whatever.

I also recall an article in some Catholic magazine, probably 20 or so years ago, about a city where a new Protestant church was growing and some Catholics were drawn to it. The pastor of the Catholic church received permission to adapt homilies so they were more catechetical. People responded; some who had left the Church returned and those who stayed were on fire.

I think people are attracted and respond to different things so we need it all. We need the study of Church teachings, simple version for those who are lacking the basics and something more rigorous for the intellectual types. Service is also huge. I think most parishes already do a good job but how much is coasting and how could it be tailored a bit to communities and changing needs or figuring out what works better. And we do need to be better at fellowship.


Y’all might want to go back and read what I actually wrote. My reference was to the Catholics who do not attend Mass anymore - or do so very haphazardly. Nothing I have said is against any of the 5 matters listed in the first post - in fact, that pretty much sums up where my parish is.

Not to belabor a point, but my position is that from years of experience, both with friends and family, and participation as a team member in Catholics Returning Home is that those who are not there - or only minimally so - have other issues which need to be addressed. We are not being inundated with people returning to the Faith, in spite of a parish which has been very strong in faith, liturgy, and prayer.

My posts were to addressing those who are not there as regular faithful Catholics I don’t demean or denigrate any of the 5 matters posted in any way. Nor am I a naysayer - I have been in the trenches.

You want a head count? On one side of my family, among 11 cousins, 7 have left the Church (and been out for 40+ years). They show up for the prior generations’ funerals, then either go back to their Protestant churches, or back to their lifestyles. And that is just one side.

I am all for dynamic priests, for thought provoking retreats, and above all, for proper catechesis.

I am also for any ideas of how to contact those who have left, and get the message “Come and see” to them.


Father and volunteer parishioners are going to go door to door to evangelize and inform, invite and just let them know we are there.


So very true. There is also the ultimate excuse that many use to justify not making more effort to evangelize: “but we have the Eucharist and they don’t!” True enough. One would think that most awesome of all Gifts would make us want to do as much as we could to bring more souls into our parishes and not use it as an excuse for inaction. That “coasting” is a real killer.

They are very learned and good at what they do. There is most certainly something to be learned from their model.


The BIGGIE for my parish! I could not agree more. Sadly the roots of such problems run very deep in many parishes.

Amen… Thanks for the best posting on this entire thread…


I agree. Generally spaeking, the reason people do not go to the mass, most of the time or never at all, got nothing to do with the points listed in the OP. I know and I had been there.

If they are mass goers, that going to the mass is ingrained in their lives because of their belief as Catholics, they will go no matter how horrible the mass is, as long as it is valid.

Those who do not go for mass do not believe in the necessity to do so. It is quite common for many Catholics that they go for Sunday mass just to fulfill their obligation - they would go even if the priest is the choir, because they believe that going to mass is important, something that they have to do.

I agree that the more appropriate question is ‘how do we reach out to Catholics who do not go to church’, so that we can see an increase in mass attendance on Sundays and even beyond.


My experience has been different. That’s why I’m not quick to discount any ideas.


First, speculating on what people know is useless. Second, this is not a committee meeting, but a forum from around the world. Not everything will work everywhere. Some things may have been tried and found to be a failure at some point and in some place. What you call stoppers are part of the discussion, not a derailment.


Well, that’s one opinion. I would rather say that this sort of name-calling doesn’t serve discussion well. Understand that there will be people here that disagree with you. We all have to be careful not to engage in tactics to bully people into silence. Just something to think about.


All good. But I pull from pre and post Vat II for my formation. Pre Vat II, 80% of Catholics went to mass faithfully on Sunday and holy days. Post Vat II only 20% of Catholics faithfully attend mass on Sunday. So what happened?

Stuff like liberation theology, and fake ecumenism to name just 2 factors.

Then there are wolves in shepherd’s clothing. I was at a seminary event and a bishop emeritus entered the conversation. We were talking about this very issue. I said 80% of Catholics are in mortal sin for deliberately missing mass on Sunday. His head practically exploded. He said to me you can’t say that. I said oh really? Actually I was stunned by his response. Then I quoted the CCC 2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation (Sundays), unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

IOW grave sin = mortal sin. Just as I said.

Then I quoted the following passage from Hebrews

Heb 10:
24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

26 For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. 28 A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 **How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."**

That consequence, describes mortal sin to deliberately miss mass. A person dies in mortal sin they go to hell.

Debating with protestants who just won't listen

Unqualified, this is in fact not correct. As any sound thinking moral theologian would say. The situation is much more complex, as the Catechism indicates – but more importantly those who are actually theologians ascribe.

Just as there is not “fake ecumenism”.


I think you have a valid point, but I feel that the measures suggested in the OP, even if not effective in bringing people back it is very likely prevent people from leaving. I think if people feel a sense of community they are less likely to leave if they do wind up not seeing it as important or if they are not living in line with Church teachings.


Preventing people from leaving could potentially create a stronger, more stable church which might make it seem more appealing to an outsider. These days you are more likely to meet a lapsed Catholic than a practicing one which must make people cynical.

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