Doing nothing is not an option ……..

A look at statistics (from 2014) about the Catholic Church in the U.S. may give us cause to think we are “circling the drain.”

  • In the past 25 years, there has been a net loss of 2,137 parishes in the U.S.
  • In 1990 there were 19,620 U.S. Catholic churches: today there are 17,464.
  • The New York archdiocese announced the consolidation of 112 parishes in October 2014, and was considering closing another 38 parishes.
  • The Boston archdiocese has closed more than 125 parishes since 1990.
  • In 2012 Boston consolidated the remaining 288 parishes into 135 “’parish collaboratives.”
  • In the Chicago archdiocese, Catholics declined from 43 percent of the population in 1980 to 35 percent in 2015.
  • Chicago had 1,000 fewer priests in 2014 that it had in 1980. In the last 20 years of Cardinal Francis George’s administration, everything was down:
    • 2000 fewer nuns
    • 21 fewer parishes
    • 74 fewer Catholic elementary schools
    • 11 fewer Catholic high schools
    • 10,000 fewer baptisms,
    • half as many weddings
    • 33 percent fewer funerals each year
  • In the U.S. Catholic priests are an endangered species. There are nearly 20,000 fewer priests in the U.S. than 25 years ago dropping from 52,124 to 38,275
  • Today, there are 3,496 parishes with no resident pastor.
  • Half the diocesan priests in the U.S. will retire before 2019 and many dioceses in the U.S. do not have sufficient funds to pay their pensions.
  • Religious orders of brothers and sisters are disappearing even faster than diocesan priests. There are only about 50.000 U.S. nuns today, down from almost 180,000 in 1965.
  • The only really bright spot in the vocations picture is the permanent deaconate. We have more than 17,000 permanent deacons, from about 900 in 1975. Maybe marriage helps.
  • Sacramental participation is way down.
    Today, only 24 percent of U.S. Catholics go to Mass on a typical Sunday. In 1970, it was closer to 50 percent.
    In 2014, there were less than half as many Catholic weddings as in 1980:
    more than 200,000 fewer infant baptisms than in 1980;
    and 50,000 fewer funerals than in 1990.


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  1. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    Pope Francis is positioning Care for Creation and the Poor as central to Catholicism right now. He has amplified the voice of a younger generation who can see the fruits of disparity the world over – we are working ourselves into a hole of sorts.

    We are all being called to do something slightly different but still accepted in today’s standards. We have to support this vision for the Church in everything we do now and most importantly at a parish level. The parish is the most important thing to support right now in this transition stage.

    Locally, a restoration society (Catholic board) was formed to purchase a property (Redemptorist-inspired Stone Church) and the idea is that it is going to be a green space, event centre that will host milestone events for families and friend groups. An all-in-one event location (photo/video/catering) with staged areas for group photo/video and catering abilities.

    Our first corporate sponsor is the largest grocer retailer in our province. I’d say they are a Catholic company. They know how important it is to support local, community/cooperative formations. Find 300 people and make an investment and hope for a payout. $20/month for a year and you have the makings of a solar cooperative that saves the Church billions. Allows you to reinvest into support for systems that stop the need for planned obsolescence.

    I’d like to take credit for it but it is this old thing called religion that allows us to overhaul the system if need be – we have access to the capital if it can be shown that there is a valid reason to petition governments world wide, everywhere. The “Our Children’s Trust” lawsuit in the United States will be coming to a country near you eventually. Bet on it. Have you all signed the petition?

    Stranger things have happened.

  2. Lloyd Allan MacPherson says:

    And yes, doing nothing is never an option in this current climate.

  3. From my experience, the catholic church in Ireland has yet to accept that our church is in free fall. Some day the penny will drop….hopefully there will be something left or will the local church be the new night club ??? Don’t laugh, the old Protestant church is now a pizza 🍕 restaurant…

  4. Doing nothing is not an option.!.!.!
    In my parish what can we do??.
    The Parish Priest has disbanded the Parish Pastoral Council.
    Removed women, who had been assisting with religion in schools,as he said the Church would do it now.The corollary of this is, we are just the laity again, i.e. we are no longer Church.
    Insulted a lady on the phone, to the extent she has resigned all parish work.
    incidentally the reason for the phone call was, a request to put an advert in the Parish News letter regarding an up coming alpa course. “His excuse,because they were not Catholics”
    Advice please.

  5. Mary Vallely says:

    William @4, your PP comes across as a man with a lot on his plate, to put it charitably. He may have problems and be unable to cope with the burden of responsibility so he might just welcome the opportunity for a dialogue with concerned parishioners. It can be a lonely old road, that on which a PP travels and he needs to feel the warmth, support and goodwill of his parishioners. (Mind you, he could simply be a wee dictator but you have to give him the benefit of the doubt!)
    I would suggest that you rally a group of others who feel as strongly as you do, the retired PPC for a start, and request an immediate meeting with the PP. If he refuses to meet with you to allow discussion on the matter then you need to contact the bishop.
    The situation needs to be sorted ASAP before tensions build up even further and pride gets in the way of a resolution. Best wishes for positive progress. We’ll keep you, your PP and the parish in our prayers. Nil desperandum!

  6. Mary Vallely @5
    Thank you Mary, for taking the time to put your thoughts on paper.
    I really appreciate your help.

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