As I’ve blogged many times I’ve attended St. Anthony’s Chrurch on the south side of Milwaukee since I was baptized there. I usher every Sunday and have since 1970. So I know who comes and who doesn’t anymore.
Our attendance has been dropping gradually over the past several years but really plummeted during COVID.
Fewer fannies in the pew became quite noticeable when our parish implemented very strict restrictions. And then the unthinkable happened. People arrived one Sunday to find the doors locked. No Mass would take place. And the lockdown would occur for four straight weeks before the 10:00 weekly Mass would be open to parishioners again.
Masses weren’t postponed because of any deep sincere concern for the health and welfare of attendees. Seems the pastor (young and inexperienced as a church manager) didn’t feel enough worshippers at 10:00 (mostly white) were following the mask rules. He’s Columbian and many in the predominantly English-speaking crowd at our Mass felt they were being punished.
Attendance figures (that are counted every week) have dropped significantly, by well more than 50%. Our Mass hasn’t recovered and doesn’t appear it ever will.
On this Sunday today’s read is from Ryan Burge, a pastor with American Baptist Churches USA. Here’s an excerpt:
Between 1972 and 2010, the Catholic share (of religious affiliation) dropped by a single percentage point. Not bad.
However, that’s not the entire story with American Catholicism. Not even close. Lots of Americans still identify as Catholics but how many of them actually come to a Mass on a regular basis? That’s where the narrative about the Catholic Church in the United States starts to change.
I calculated the share of four Christian groups that report attending services nearly every week or more over the last fifty years. I love a graph like this one because the point I am trying to make becomes crystal clear in the visualization: Mass attendance for Catholics has fallen off a cliff.
Read more and all the details here.
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