Posted by: frroberts | November 1, 2015

How are things going in my parishes?

As we review the October pew count numbers for our parish cluster, we have some good news,  some bad news, and a reality check  (In looking at these numbers, I have excluded the first Sunday in October, when we had a confirmation on Sunday afternoon at Saint Mary). The good news is that our average Sunday Mass attendance in the parish cluster is about 15% more than before we began our Hispanic outreach when I arrived in 2013.   There has been an 26% increase at Saint Joseph and a 6% increase a Saint Mary. We can be very happy about these numbers, especially when we consider that from 2012 to 2015, the population of Randolph County has decreased by 4%!
The bad news is that Mass attendance in the parish cluster is down by just under 5% from last year.  This reality is somewhat complicated.  At Saint Joseph, Mass attendance is up 8% since last year and as high as it has been since the Diocese began keeping records in 1990.  Since last year, attendance at Saint Mary has declined by almost 18%.  It would be fair to say that some of the growth at Saint Joseph has been the result of the cancellation of the Saturday anticipated Mass at Saint Mary.
Finally, we need to have a reality check.  One of the things that Bishop Doherty has mentioned is that parishes should not have two Masses that are less than half full.  Why is that? Because there are parishes with more 4,000 parishioners that only have one priest in our Diocese.  With fewer priests, common sense indicates that the distribution of priests and Masses should mirror where Catholics in the diocese are.  50% of Catholics in the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana live in Hamilton and Boone counties (the Indianapolis suburbs), which are growing rapidly in population.
With this in mind, let’s look at where we were in October:
Mass     Avg. Attendance      Capacity      % full
4:30              66                       250               26%
8                 115                       325               35%
10               130                       250               52%
6:30              81                       325               25%
Avg. weekly attendance at Saint Mary: 196
Avg. weekly attendance at Saint Joseph: 196
It would be fair to say that even after having cut one of our weekend Masses, we still have more Masses in our parish cluster than are necessary for our numbers.  I have no interest in cutting any more Masses during what remains of my tenure here.  We do however need to be aware that unless our numbers pick up significantly, having fewer Masses is a real possibility down the road.

To Jesus through Mary,
Fr. Christopher

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