Fewer Parishes, More Families

The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate recently released a report from its project Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership, titled The Changing Face of U.S. Catholic Parishes, tracking trends in U.S. Catholic parish life during the last decade. The report found that “the number of Catholic parishes has declined by 1,359 since the year 2000 to 17,784 in 2010, representing a 7.1 percent decrease. The 2010 number is roughly equal to the number of U.S. parishes in 1965, 17,637, and 1,836 fewer than the peak number of U.S. parishes in 1990.” The report also revealed an increase in the number of families in individual parishes. “The average number of registered households in each U.S. parish grew to 1,168, and the average number of people attending Mass at Catholic parishes was 1,110 in 2010, up from an average of 966 a decade earlier.” These trends, probably due to parish mergers and closings, have caused a greater expansion of Mass schedules and bilingual adjustments across the United States.

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