What could be done to most improve Sunday Mass attendance?



Yes, a absolutely devout catholic would walk three hours to reach a chruch on sunday after a working night (this is what I read in some cases as answer, and even if its not untrue, it´s a bit …easy)

Maybe ask someone without a car to take him or her to mass? Also evening masses for working people are great, mass during the week also.


The Newman Center of which I spoke has its Sunday Masses at something like 6 pm and 9 pm. There is a meal, like spaghetti, in between for students who want to have some fellowship time. They also arrange rides for students who need them (the Center is a short walk off the campus but it is in a residential area partly without sidewalks and gets dark at night).

For students who wish to attend earlier, there is a Catholic parish church in the college town also near campus that has the regular selection of morning Masses, plus the 5:15 pm on Sunday. All of the Masses at both the parish church and the Newman Center are well attended; the parish church is a bit more “traditional” in terms of historic church space, type of music, etc. for students who like that. I see both students and townspeople attending both places. I’m glad the priest at the Newman Center had the foresight to not just duplicate the Mass times offered by the church up in town.


This is a very good point. What happens when you fall outside any of those “groups”? As a relatively young (30ish), single, professional Catholic, I don’t fit in with the “youth” of our parish anymore. I don’t fit with the young families. I don’t fit with many of the women’s groups, where the average age is approximately 60. I am in a minority and defy categorization. Most of the time I just make do and quietly work along the edges of whatever groups I can find who need my help. But being reminded of my separateness with entire Masses?

Moreover, I think Mass should be the time to celebrate our sameness, not our difference. We are all part of the same church and that is what we should be celebrating.


Good idea, to look at where we have missed Mass ourselves!

For me, it’s when I’m tired and have family things to do…my husband isn’t Catholic and if the kids start clamoring not to go too…well it’s hard to be the one voice pushing it. I do it, but it’s HARD. So it helps ME to have Mass be somewhere my kids like going, and where my husband is fairly comfortable, and where parking is easy and where no one will give me the stink eye if I come in late after dealing with the kids losing their shoes on the way to the car, etc.

Oh, and having a later Mass, so that if things with the family really do go crazy, or my non religious extended family wants to do brunch, or whatever, I can do that and still get to Mass by going to the 5:30 Sunday evening Mass. That helps a lot.

Oh, and being welcoming to small children. This is the kind of thing that feeds on itself. If I’m the only one with a squirming baby or toddler feel self conscious and might be less likely to want to attend. But at my parish there are LOTS of small babies and toddlers, and by the end of Mass the walls and back of the church are literally lined with parents who have gotten up and are holding/swaying/walking fussy children. There is a camaraderie with that. Plus, the seniors (who are in fact bussed in from local assisted living facilities) LOVE seeing all the babies. I think having such a great faith formation program and youth program attracts families, so that’s why we get more babies and little ones. There is also a parish school, which I’m sure helps. (we homeschool so don’t utilize it).


Really? Why? Because we disagree on the foundational reasons for lack of attendance at Mass and how to fix that issue? Because I’m not saying don’t ever change anything. In fact, you’ll find I didn’t say that at all. What I said was, I don’t believe that is where the root of the problem lies. And if we are going to address this, we might be better served to tackle it at its root.

I helped raise over $100,000 for our church to do major renovations because I believed that a beautiful space to worship was important. I invest quite a lot of my own time and money into flowers for the church because I believe the aesthetics are important. I sing with the choir, I read (and am a trained stage actor, so I read well), and I serve as an EMHC. I think all of those things are important. I just don’t believe that the Mass should be about any of them.

If I have a concern about the church or the Mass, I raise it privately with the pastor, and then I trust his guidance on how to proceed. Here, and in my public life, when I’m asked about Mass, I don’t talk about the soloist who probably shouldn’t be a soloist or the readers who need a refresher course. I talk about the peace I get from the Mass. About the experience of narrating the gospel on Good Friday. About the beauty and the drama of the liturgy of the Eucharist. About the strength I get from receiving Christ. Because I believe the message I should be sending to people is that Mass attendance is important and valuable even if you didn’t necessarily love the temporal experience, because the temporal experience is too fleeting.


I think that many people back in the day attended to keep in touch with the other people in the parish. Seeing their fellow Catholics, finding out who died, who is getting married, who was there, or who isn’t there, made it a weekly event they didn’t want to miss. If the faithful really don’t know, or really don’t care, what their fellow Catholics in the neighborhood are up to- its a lot easier for folks to stay home as they won’t feel missed. If you aren’t sociable at all with the people of the parish Monday through Saturday, you aren’t going to care on Sunday.

A lot of churches have other activities during the week, yoga classes and bowling leagues, school activities, whatever, so they become more of a close knit family. A friend and neighbor of mine is a Pentecostal minister, he has ongoing group meetings in his home and other activities on a regular basis.


Thank you for your reply. I have been to services in probably 8 or 9 of the RC parishes in San Francisco. Some are absolutely lovely. We do have a city filled with beautiful churches. On the Cathedral side of things tho, I believe that Grace beats out St Mary’s. Just my opinion…


My wife and I took a last-minute three day trip to San Fran over our anniversary. Lucked into some great airline deals. Arrived on a Friday, flew home on Sunday. That Saturday evening we were walking down Columbus Avenue towards the wharf, and passed the church of Saints Peter and Paul. We stopped in and attended the vigil Mass. Really a fantastic experience. The cantor sounded like Andrea Bocelli. We can’t wait to get to San Francisco again soon.


Each person in the parish should have a list of 12 people for whom they pray to come to or return to the faith. If we all did this, then our churches would fill up again.


There are a lot of great ideas here. StephieNorth had the best, in my opinion. Mass attendance is more a symptom of a problem, and she addresses the root. The best question should always be how we are to help people grow in faith, and more to the point, to want to grow in faith. We have had given free Bibles and CCC’s to parishioners to that end.

My own suggestion, which I use the most, is enlisting people who are not regular attenders or lapsed into work, finding something they like to do and help out. Besides the buy in, working with others creates ties that make Mass feel more welcoming.

To be sure, there is nothing wrong with having the appeal of quality, the emotion of hope, friendliness, tradition, or any other draw, as long as reverence is maintained. But in the end, these things are rather subjective.


This is an area we do well in. We are a below middle class parish in a similar neighborhood. When school lets out in June, we start feeding a noon meal to all who would come, filling in a gap left by school lunch programs. We have almost completed a social service center that will perform a myriad of functions, but will also be a visible reminder of the parish presence in the community.


Good point @pnewton At the San Diego County fair, I counted booths by several Evangelicals, Fundamentalists and other denominations. NO CATHOLIC BOOTHS. Why? By the way, yes, I did stop at those booths, got my “free” Bible and exchanged a few points where we agreed and disagreed. Maybe I made a convert or two. Time will tell.

At one local Street fair, similar… several Protestant denomination set up shop, the only pseudo Catholic booth was the Lesbian Bishop from the American Catholic Church.

Suggestion: Set up shop at your local events.I’ll be happy to buy and donate CCC and Bibles to our locals if they will evangelize… my stamina isn’t good enough any more beyond being there a short time.


I think you’re on the right track. We have an evangelization crisis - people need to decide that Jesus is worth following. From that, catechesis becomes far more effective, leading to worthy participation in the liturgy.


Pope St. John Paul II wrote, "Respecting the specific nature and proper cadence of this setting, the homily takes up again the journey of faith put forward by catechesis, and brings it to its natural fulfillment. " Catechesi Tradendae, 48. So, at least he would say that catechesis is very appropriate during the homily.

Catechesi Tradendae


I disagree. Those are the largest complaints I hear from my non-practicing Catholic family. The lack of reverence being the biggest. They attend a Mass…and promptly go “Now, I remember why I don’t go.”


Interesting. Good point. I guess I have different acquaintances. Most of the people I know would prefer the rock band, large screen TV approach. To me that doesn’t seem all that reverent…


Well, if you take out religion, everyone prefers that approach. Problem is the Protestants have us beat hands down in that area.

But, if you believe the Catholic Church had the fullness of the faith the modern Mass is heart wrenching. We barely even kneel in Church these days.

There is no simple solution, but the desire for a more reverent Mass shouldn’t be dismissed


Actually, I’m not dismissing it. I’m pointing out it is not a root cause. Once we have gotten to higher attendance, I firmly believe the reverence will either return or need be addressed at that point.

I was at the Crystal Cathedral before it was sold. To me, it was a spectacular show. But that’s all it was, a show. No reverence there from my viewpoint. The people I was with thought it was wonderful, and could absolutely not comprehend my disappointment. I myself vastly more “enjoyed” the Mass I attended the same day.


What “group” is “Solemn Mass”?


Is quite embarrassing… AKA Maytag Mary’s…

The Episcopal Church was really something at one point in the US. Extremely wealthy and influential. Now it’s dying right before our eyes.

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