Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your parish?

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JW
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Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your parish?

Post by JW » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:35 pm

The 2015 Diocesan Directories are published. Statistics contained therein are for 2013. We know to be wary of statistics but, as the Year of Faith ended on the feast of Christ the King 2013, this is the first opportunity to see if it was an effective tool for evangelization. I am aware that many will say that numbers are irrelevant but it isn't a view I personally share.

In my diocese, Mass attendance declined from 91,260 to 90,430, despite a strong influx of immigrants. This masks huge differences in individual parishes. In percentage terms, the most successful parish in the diocese appears to be an Ordinariate parish which has increased Mass attendance by a whopping 80%, from 115 to 207. One parish in the diocese seems to have lost 267 Mass attenders, dropping 40% from 660 to 393.

In my own parish, we continue the practice of daily Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, brought in during the Year of Faith, and we continue to say the Vatican Council prayer after every Mass. Our Mass attenders appear to have dropped from 507 to 375: we've lost 132, over a quarter of our people. This is careless to say the least. Numbers have continued to fall since 2013 so please don't be surprised if my general pessimism on here continues into the future. Isn't it time the clergy listened to those who are leaving? And listened to those parishioners, clergy and other leaders where numbers are increasing?

No doubt, in Phlorida, things are on the up? Cheer us up Phil!
JW

JRM
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Re: Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your par

Post by JRM » Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:12 pm

JW,

I am very interested in any Ordinariate related developments.
Is it the Diocese of Southwark that you mentioned?
And which Ordinariate parish has been so successful? The Most Precious Blood?

The ordinariates in the UK, US+Canada and Australia are not only a prophetic
step towards restoring the unity of Christians, but they also promote
great musical tradition in liturgy.

All the best in AD 2015.

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VML
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Re: Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your par

Post by VML » Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:11 am

Welcome to the forum JRM. Good to see a new contributor.

alan29
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Re: Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your par

Post by alan29 » Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:55 am

I would be interested to know how an increase or otherwise in numbers could be attributed to the Year of Faith.
Our numbers have increased over the last couple of years, but thats because of some parish mergers, an excellent parish primary school, and the placement of a "difficult" priest to the next-door parish.

MARYFA
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Re: Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your par

Post by MARYFA » Wed Jan 07, 2015 4:27 pm

I agree will Alan29. It is probably almost impossible to judge by one parish. My own diocese (Leeds) has a fall in Mass attendance from 31,733 in 2012
to 31,014 in 2013 700+. Not much evidence there of any positive effect from the Year of Faith. Incidentally our neighbouring Diocese -Middlesbrough-
does not publish its statistics in its Yearbook. I wonder why. In my own Parish, there would appear to have been an increase but it is possibly
due to the fact that on two of the Sundays of the October count there were School Masses, one Primary and one Secondary which of course
boosted the average with nominal Catholics and others attending on those days.

JW
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Re: Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your par

Post by JW » Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:30 pm

Hi JRM,

Yes the Ordinariate Parish I mentioned previously was the Precious Blood in Borough. I was there last Sunday and they do things well and really not so different from a traditionally inclined Catholic Parish.

Positives were:
    The church bells were ringing before Mass.
    Fairly quiet atmosphere before Mass, not completely silent, but enough to enable prayer
    Service sheet / newsletter with the readings, hymns and Proper all included
    Celebration facing the people and in English, apart from the Missa de Angelis
    Friendly and thought - provoking sermon on how both faith and science can help us in our search after truth (the question: "is there really a difference between astronomy and astrology?" was posed as a summary: the final sentence of the sermon).
    Communion under both kinds (with a woman Eucharistic Minister)
    Hymns all traditional Epiphany hymns: As with gladness, We three kings, O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness
    Gospel and Preface Dialogues sung (missal chants)
    Invitations to people: 1) "there's coffee afterwards in the rectory, I do hope you can come through" 2) "if you haven't had your house blessed yet, do let me know and I'll come and do it"
    Very good mix of ages, genders and ethnicities present
Food for thought:
    altar servers were all male, mostly teenagers; there were no children. This meant that there was no distracting fidgeting or looking around by the servers, who were extremely well trained and disciplined,
    Personally I think there are better plainsong Masses than 'de Angelis'. I was glad the Creed was said. However, their choir is not particularly strong and they're probably right to stick to the familiar.
    Blessing of chalk at the end of Mass, but everyone went up for a piece
    Sung Angelus after Mass (it was about Midday) - first time I've hear the Hail Mary sung

They are obviously still growing: in the local coffee shop, a lady was checking they'd be open after Mass. Three ladies asked me if there was a Mass now when I was going in (must have looked as if I belonged!!)

Bearing in mind that previously it was a dying inner city parish, it's great to see growth there. They seemed to have great secret, except for a prayerful liturgy and clergy & people who are friendly and open: we should all be aiming for that.

Alan, I do take your point, but the Catholic Church in England & Wales is clearly dying. Pope Benedict's letter announcing it specifically called for renewed conversion and profession of faith - for Catholics to be salt of the earth and light to the world. The only way we can see if this has happened is by playing the numbers game. If numbers in both Leeds and Southwark have dropped, then the downward trend seems to be continuing. I do think we're far too complacent about people's perceived lack of need for, or interest in, God.
JW

alan29
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Re: Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your par

Post by alan29 » Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:42 pm

Yes numbers have been declining across the board, and much study has gone into discovering the reasons. I would be amazed if initiatives from the top made any impact. My sense is that people feel they have moved on from religion in general, and that we are seen as a curious anachronistic minority.
About that Ordinariate parish .... I wonder how many worshippers are local, and how many commute for that particular style of worship.

JRM
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Re: Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your par

Post by JRM » Thu Jan 08, 2015 8:22 am

Hi JW,

Thank you so much for a thorough, and rich in observations, account of your visit.
The Ordinariate has kind of 'inherited' the parish, so I think they could not change
everything at once, even if they wanted. Anyway, according to your account
they've done a great job and it seems like a recipe for success (confirmed by the numbers).

In the number game, ASA is only one of the key numbers. IMHO, the number of people
living a regular sacramental life (especially confession on a monthly basis) is much more important,
but I'm not sure whether such data are available.

JW
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Re: Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your par

Post by JW » Sun Jan 11, 2015 5:33 pm

In trying to work out why some parishes are growing, I visited another growing Southwark parish today, liturgically quite different from the Precious Blood, but with possibly an even greater community spirit:

The building is not particularly prepossessing, it seems to have been fitted out about 1970, the nave has a low ceiling and garish neon strip-lighting. On entering, there are signs requesting that we respect the silence of the church; most people greeted each other fairly quietly - you could pray if you wanted despite a background hubbub. The ethnic mix is mostly Afro-Caribbean: within that, the priest stated during the sermon that there were at least 10 nationalities present; also, there is an afternoon Mass in Spanish which, I assume, has a different ethnic mix. The congregation were predominantly families and there were relatively few elderly people (over 60). The sermon was on the humility of Christ in seeking baptism, becoming one of us, humble to death: we are encouraged to follow His example by using our talents, not to push others down, but to do good and build people up. The congregation joined with the priest when he quoted familiar bible passages or prayers during the sermon. The servers were teenagers, as opposed to children, and were very well disciplined and trained. The choir was great, it was a Gospel choir, consisting of about 20 people, providing good leadership for the congregation, as well as 3 choir items. Despite this there were some unexpected music choices:

Entrance: All you nations sing out your joy to the Lord, Lucien Deiss
Gloria: Peruvian
Alleluia, version of 'Halle, Halle, Halle'
Offertory: choir item - I don't even know what language it was in (not English, Spanish or Latin) but very joyful and uplifting
Sanctus: another choir item - don't know the language but some of the congregation joined in
Acclamation: Christ has died, alleluia
Lamb of God: Israeli
Communion Procession: Love Divine (Blaenwern)
Recessional: Walk in the light

I was identified as a visitor and made to feel welcome. Community is strengthened by a house-group system, there are 4 groups depending on where you live and they meet regularly. There seems to be a strong influence from the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in the parish; other groups also meet regularly. In the newsletter there was a call for children to present themselves for audition at Westminster Cathedral Choir School.

The lesson I'm learning is that, where people feel they belong, others are drawn In.
JW

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Nick Baty
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Re: Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your par

Post by Nick Baty » Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:11 pm

Nick Baty's "Warrington Gloria" is more guitar friendly and has no cantor!
Am I allowed to say that? :lol:

alan29
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Re: Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your par

Post by alan29 » Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:51 am

I liked that JustMary.
I wonder if there should be a space on the board where people could recommend settings that they have found to work.
Maybe even offer their own settings?

Dom Perignon
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Re: Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your par

Post by Dom Perignon » Thu Jan 15, 2015 3:03 pm

I generally don't moderate if we drift slightly off topic and then work back to it reasonably quickly, but this has gone too far in too many different directions! Could we please return to the legacy of the Year of Faith under this topic. I may set up two more threads, being (i) recommendations for Mass Settings in the 'New' translation and (ii) the issues surrounding a failure to implement that translation in parish music - and move applicable posts accordingly.
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Nick Baty
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Re: Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your par

Post by Nick Baty » Thu Jan 15, 2015 9:31 pm

Comment removed

Dom Perignon
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Re: Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your par

Post by Dom Perignon » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:06 am

VML commented, on Monday January 12 2015 at 2.58pm:

"Our numbers have been quite consistent over the last five years, possibly being boosted by the presence of an international army base on our patch. Many personnel there have become very involved in the parish during quite short postings.

I think the main fruit of the Year of Faith has been an increase in weekday Mass numbers, from possibly 15 average on the mid week days to 20-25 now. It can only be a good thing.
"
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keitha
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Re: Year of Faith - Did it help increase numbers in your par

Post by keitha » Fri Jan 16, 2015 12:12 am

Interesting. In my parish I have noticed a similar increase in attendance at daily mass (and increasing numbers coming early to attend morning or evening prayer), but I really don't know whether it is related to the Year of Faith. Maybe we needed some sort of 'follow up' from the Bishops and clergy to keep the momentum up?
Keith Ainsworth

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