What could be done to most improve Sunday Mass attendance?


Have you noticed how MANY … huge numbers … people show up for Christmas Mass? And for Easter Mass. And for Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday?

And then you don’t see them again.

It might be helpful if the pastor got up at homily -time and invited everyone to return for regular Sundays. And for regular attendees to return for daily Mass. That the Mass IS Biblical. Shockingly. And that there will be a confession service at such and such a time and that penances are easy.

All attendees get two free gifts: 1) GRACE and 2) A business card for the pastor with the Mass schedule. [The bulletin is too large and is ONLY issued on Sunday … not on Weekdays depending on when Christmas falls.]

The ushers need to be rehearsed. Too many of them disappear too early.


I have no problem with that. I am all for mass be worshiped reverently, good choir, good homilies, etc. In fact we should go in that direction with the liturgy so that our mass be vibrant and alive with many parishioners involving in church’s life. So I am all for it.

However, like it been said, the eighty percent who do not go to mass are obviously do not feel the need anymore to do so or they are just not practicing Catholics.

But, what does it mean to be Catholics? You and I both know the answer. Going for mass is not a matter of depending on feeling, or the priest or how good and reverent the people are. We go for mass because we have to go and not going is a sin. And if we understand further, because we want to receive the grace that it gives for the life of our souls.

I should say very few, if indeed there are, that people do not go to the mass anymore because of the reasons as listed in the OP.

Anyway, that is my personal opinion, spoken from my own personal experience. I grew up in a church life from a small kid. At some times after university, I stopped going to mass and the reason was nothing to do with what in the list. Long story short, when I came back many years later, the reason was also got nothing to do with what listed but a new found joy and belief in my Christian faith.

Other people may experience differently, it’s okay but I believe that as long as the basic fundamental love for the mass and strong belief in it is not there, other factors are just superficial decoration.


My suggestions:

  1. Improve understanding and engagement, for example through study and discussion groups for adults. Personally I didn’t attend a Catholic school and although I’ve attended church for most of my life I am aware that there are a lot of things I don’t know or understand.

  2. Strengthen a sense of community. Friends of mine who are Baptists took me to visit their church and the moment i walked in people came over to welcome me and offer to explain things to me and encourage me to take part in this or that activity or just stay for coffee. I’m sure a newbie could walk into my Catholic parish and nobody would even notice. I am surprised at the number of people in my church who i see every Sunday but whose names I don’t even know.

2b) On the theme of (2) a first start might be a website with photos of the clergy and short bios so you know something about them, activities, general information, and the same on a poster in the entrance area of the church. Our present website has mass times, the location of the church and a couple of telephone numbers. That’s it.

  1. Offer something for everyone. I really don’t have a problem with a group of youths bringing in their amps and drum kit and contributing to the musical side of mass. Everybody needs to find their own way to worship. I like their initiative and enthusiasm. But personally it’s not my thing. Provide an alternative for the more traditionally minded such as myself.


I wonder if we’re asking the wrong question here.

But maybe not.

Let’s suppose that I belong to a parish where, on average, 500 people come to Mass on a weekend. Through some of the efforts in this thread, let’s suppose that number triples to 1,500.

Suppose most of them are going to communion.

Would there be any specific thing that this increase would measure, other than the number of people in the pews?

This isn’t a loaded question. I have some thoughts, but wanted to explore the reason behind the specific goal mentioned in the thread title.


This is a huge point! There is the old joke where the priest on Christmas morning is blown away by the packed church and greets the large crowd with “good to see you all again!” Tell that joke and many Catholics get offended. Yet it’s true.

My parish is one of the worse offenders. About 2K people receive the sacraments each Sunday at my parish of 5,500. Yet on C&E about 11,000 do – and my small city loses from more population then it gains on C&E.

There must be a way to reach these people…

Ash Wednesday is another mystery. It’s not even a HDoO, yet people flock to it. That too needs to be better understood.


Just so you know, I only listen to and learn from, sound thinking theologians. . Here’s one of the outstanding one’s I learned from and continue to learn from, talking about the mass https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDwW61CWPtM

BTW, my comment was not me talking, but a direct quote properly referenced from the CCC. Add to that, Georgetown Univ ( a highly respected Catholic Univ) compiled some interesting statistics, http://cara.georgetown.edu/frequentl...ch-statistics/ and found 78% of Catholics no longer meet the first precept of the Church. So, does that mean 78% of Catholics are just too complicated and too conflicted to understand the simple precept of going to mass on Sundays and holy days as being required? Or are you objecting to the Church and in extension the CCC of putting such serious consequences for one deliberately failing to meet as is the habit of some which carries with it, the consequence of mortal sin.? If so then I suggest you see if you can change scripture AND in extension change the teaching of the Catholic Church for 2000 years.

Here’s another statistic.
Prior to Vat II 80% of Catholics went to mass faithfully. After Vat II 80% don’t (Georgetown numbers rounded). What happened? Poorly formed priests, bishops, and "theologians"who lowered the bar soooo low for the sheep, the sheep wandered off? And in extension, Mortal sin is/was made to be tooooo complicated to even understand, so the message THAT sent by those sources, was, no one ever commits a mortal sin so don’t worry about that and don’t talk about it. Leave it to the experts like US.

Well…Here’s a homily given at mass by Fr Joseph Mary Wolf, of EWTN, about a fellow priest who had a near death experience. I heard this homily years ago. What peaked my interest, was that Fr Jose was shown priests and bishops in hell that he didn’t expect to see there. They were there because of their bad teaching and bad example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeQNdXu-Uvc Imagine THAT! BTW, hit “skip” to delete all the ads.

Yeah yeah I know, the Church doesn’t weigh in or approve of private NDE’s. I’ll just say, There is NOTHING in that video, in that homily, that goes against anything the Church teaches.


Some of my non denominational friends go every year for Ash Wednesday which I don’t think is typically offered outside the Catholic Church.


You’re right. If you look at the number that go to confession, it’s even less than those that attend Mass. I go to Mass with a number of oldsters who desperately cling to the belief they were told in the 1970’s that they didn’t need to go to confession any longer, that if anything, they should be hearing the priest’s confession. Concerned, I told our retired pastor about it and he spoke to each one and they remained mum. I can just imagine what bearing the weight of almost 50 years of unconfessed mortal sins feels like. It has to be frightening.

Of course there are a great many priests today that would be quick to publicly exclaim that it’s unlikely that any of them have ever committed a mortal sin during that period. Astonishing. So much for “experts.”


Interesting. The Church should endeavor to understand why they do…

There is something about the ashes that attracts people. I always take a vial from my parish to work on Ash Wednesday. Invariably ~50 people drop by throughout the day for the blessing and the ashes. That should be studied.


Hmmm. Good point. Come to think of it, I know some non-denomination folks whom I’ve seen with tell tale ashes. Interesting. I wonder if that’s an indication that they see something there in the Catholic Church that they are missing, and thus a candidate for Evangelization.


I was an altar boy in the 50’s. I have obviously then seen and learned and lived under both sides of Vat II. I will just say this. Vat II changed nothing in doctrine or dogma.


Indeed… But the terribly poor implementation of Vatican II reforms did unleash a great deal of clerical arrogance and confusion on the Church.


Exactly :love_you_gesture::grinning: Open that link I gave. I think you will like listening to Fr Joseph Mary Wolf’s homily?


They must value it. I even know some secular people who give something up for Lent.



And how many of THEM go up to communion, as if nothing is wrong with their own soul, having NOT gone to confession for all the masses they deliberately missed during the year? Thereby heaping sacrilege on top of their mortal sin. Another reality for THEM. Even if they went to confession, but had no intention of changing their habit of only going twice a year if that, then they make a mockery of the sacrament of reconciliation.

Yeah, That truly would be a much needed teaching moment for a shepherd who truly cared about his flock’s well being enough to make that a priority…

That too.

According to stats, 160,000 people die every day. For them it is the end of the world. They know at that moment where they will spend eternity. Too late to change trajectory. According to Jesus, only a few go to heaven. Meaning, Since those who go to purgatory go to heaven they are counted in with the few, so the rest go to hell.

I’m thinking, how is it this point isn’t having a bigger impact on people this side of eternity? Oh yea, it’s not cool, so it’s never mentioned.


Yes, protestants also value the ashes.

For us, it’s one of my wife’s favorite services. Main reason being, t’s basically the only time all year we can go to the altar as a family.

At my wife’s parish, to increase attendance they basically made one mass per month mandatory for families. They basically did away with Wednesday religon classes and now have the parents teach it (and for some reason it’s still $125 a kid). There’s a manditory parent’s workshop once per month and a “mandatory” family day after Mass. Basically we go over the month’s lesson. Their idea behind it is the “forced” fellowship at the family day is supposed to make us become more of a family so we all go more. Honestly…it’s just awkward.


It has lot to do with society as a whole, not just Catholics.

Protestant attendance was a lot higher back in the day as well.


I am quite aware of where the quote came from. As with so many such formulations, it cannot stand on its own or it will be misunderstood. It needs the commentary and context provided by theology.


My pastor actually does invite all the Christmas/Easter people to please come back, and goes on to say that whatever their reason for not attending regularly, please contact him and they will work it out. That there is nothing that can’t be worked out. Also, at First Communion Masses he thanks all the non-Catholic parents that have done the work to get their child to that point, and says they are always welcome. That he will never pressure them to become Catholic, although if they want to…and then there are chuckles, lol.

We have a pretty thriving parish, so I think that stuff helps.

I do think more outreach to those that are in irregular marriages would be huge…most of the non attending Catholics I know fall into that category.

Social media is big too…this is the Church I attend, they have a great web presence. https://annunciationorlando.org


I was given permission last year not to attend mass every other week by the priest because of having my kids every other week. I cannot take them to mass as my ex-wife doesnt want them in a Catholic church and she has the decision making in that regard per the divorce decree.

I am now going to have to ask for every week as I now get them every weekend and haven’t been to mass in almost a month.

So, I won’t be attending mass.

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