Roamin' Catholic

Monday, October 05, 2009

A Strategy To Reduce Church Attendance

Our local parish just announced they are dropping the Sunday 9:00 AM Mass due to the “priest shortage”. They've just plumb run out of Sunday help - whether foreign born, local retirees, or whatever. Faced with a one-priest parish and five Sunday Masses (plus weddings & funerals), the pastor cannot handle it alone.

Somethings got to give, and for now, it’s the 9AM Mass. While some other parishioners might be impacted, it is usual 260+ 9AM attendees that will have to go an hour and a half-earlier (7:30 AM) or an hour later (10:00 AM).

On the Joliet diocesan level, there is an expressed goal to get more people in Church on Sunday. But if there ever was a strategy to get less people to
attend Mass, it would be to give people less options and make attendance less convenient. This has become a national trend.

Consolidating Mass schedules is only the start. The next step is consolidating parish schools, and then parishes. Some dioceses have closed twenty, forty, sixty or more parishes in a felled swoop. Rarely, if ever, have these consolidations resulted in an increase in over-all attendance. There seems to a reverse synergy at work. The results of new schedules, schools and parishes are less than the sum of the original individual parts.

Maybe Bishop Sartin does already have the answer to the priest shortage and consolidations in
his reach. He has a married priest, Fr. Dave Medow working and saying Mass in Plainfield. He is in fact the pastor of St. Mary Immaculate Parish, and this photo shows Fr. Dave, his wife and children.

If Sartin sought out the married priests he already has in his diocese and put them to work, the shortage would be alleviated. The spoiler to this idea is that Fr. Medow was a married Lutheran Pastor with a family before being ordained a priest. All other kinds of married priests are not welcome. For the most part, only bishops don't see this as a double standard. Maybe it's time to help the bishops look at the possibilities before more parishes and the diocese are virtually consolidated into oblivion.


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