Monday, June 23, 2008

Milwaukee Mass Attendance 25%?

From the Milwaukee JS:

The average of Mass attendance counts on one weekend in October and one weekend in March have fallen from about 212,300 five years ago to about 165,100 for the fall 2007-winter 2008 counts, according to Jerry Topczewski, Dolan’s chief of staff. He stressed that some parishes do not always report. Compare that to the archdiocese’s estimate of at least 680,000 registered parishioners in a 10-county area and an unknown number of unregistered churchgoers.

So, assuming the denominator was constant, five years ago the attendance percentage was just over 31%--now it's just over 24%.

The numbers are shaky--that denominator of 680K includes a number of folks who are registered in Parish X but who have moved out of State; or who are registered but are in nursing homes--or who are registered but have died. (Record-purging is not necessarily a priority.)

BUT: to bring Mass attendance to (say) 50% (by assuming the numerator is correct) means that there are only 330,000 Catholics in the Archdiocese. That's not very likely.

What about Topczewski's "wiggle-room" statement, that "some parishes do not always report"?

Let's say that 20 parishes didn't report. Each of them has 1200 people attending Mass. That's 24K, and (let's be generous), round up the "total" number to 200K weekly attendance.

That makes 29.9%. Not too inspiring, folks.

1 comment:

aquinas said...

Let's grant your observation that "x" number of parishioners are false counts because of having moved away, moved to nursing homes, assumed room temperature, and the like. The Church tells us that the number of folks coming into the Church via the RCIA every year is making up the difference. Nearly every metric I've seen puts the Church's population at an annual net gain for well beyond the last decade. If that's true (and I have no reason to believe it's not), then the numbers are even more depressing, given what we're told about the "vibrancy" of the RCIA and other efforts at evangelization. Or, maybe it just means that an entire generation or two of really lukewarm Catholics have indeed opted out and Benedict's "smaller but stronger" is what we're seeing. In any event, 3 out of 10 is pretty pathetic.