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Archive for November 28th, 2007

A great article by Inside Catholic

Summary: Titled “The state of the Church in America, Diocese by Diocese – 2007”. The thrust of the study was what effect does the local bishop have on the health of the local Diocese? Their source documents are the Official Catholic Directory and complied for 2005. Study covers 1995 to 2005.

Now for the good news – The USA population grew by 13% and Catholicism grew by 22%. Infant baptism was 22% of the population born in America for 2005. As the study relates “this figure belies the belief that the Catholic Church is expanding through higher rate of birth. We received 149,603 Adults into the church, up 6% from 1995.

Now the distressing news – 18% drop in the number of priests for 1995. 45 diocese had no ordinations in the past 10 years out of 176 possible. It noted attracting vocations from outside its own diocese and thereby didn’t loss priests to retirement or death.

39% of the diocese loss adherents, 34% had moderate growth, and 28% saw dramatic growth [as a percentage of the total in the diocese]. Much of this was caused by migration of the population [rust belt to sun belt, etc.].

Based on the size of the current priesthood, # of increased vocations, increase in # of adult receptions was the prime indicator for this study of the health of the diocese. Clearly this isn’t all but I would agree it is a reasonable gage.

Based on that if you live in Shreveport, Metuchen(NJ), Dodge city, Yakima, El Paso, Des Moines, Houma-Thibodaux, Dallas, Honolulu, or Amarillo your bishop needs a lot of pray and help. They all lost a 77 point ranking or greater out of 176 diocese total.

The most suprising stat for me was that the South is the strongest followed by the Rocky Mountains, Pacific Coast, Industrial Mid-west, and last was the Northeast – the cradle of American Catholicism.

“So the Church is, by this measure, most healthy in that region that is traditionally the least hospitable to it, and is least healthy in that region where it has the longest history and in which are found both the greatest concentration and largest number of Catholics in it. New England has the greatest decline in priests, lowest rate of ordination, and lowest rate of adult reception. …Catholic diocese seem to be most successful when they are self-consciously the pilgrim Church on earth.”

Another interesting item was the size of the diocese – “there is a clear inverse linear relationship between the size of the diocese and the health of the diocese: as size increases, vitality decreases.”

The stats are pretty accurate at least for me. Metuchen was the parish that I was raised in and everyone I knew was Catholic. In fact, outside of a few Jewish friends I hadn’t met a protestant until I was 7 years old. When I go back there for visits one can see that while it’s still Catholic it’s old compaired to when I was there. On the other hand in Fort Worth we finally received our first diocese priest (going about 7 years without one).

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