10 thoughts on “The Great Catholic Dwindling”

  1. I have family living just north of Austin. When I visit every year or so, I usually attend the Extraordinary Form Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in downtown Austin. It is offered there every Sunday at 3:30 PM (with Confession and Rosary starting at 3:00 PM) and on Holy Days of Obligation through the efforts of the St. Joseph Latin Mass Society. (I see that their Web site has an Ash Wednesday Low Mass scheduled this year as well.)

    The Mass attendance appears to have grown quite a bit over the past few years, especially since the issuance of the moto proprio Summorum Pontificum and the follow up instruction Universae Ecclesia. The Cathedral is not large, as cathedrals go, but it is beautiful and well-suited to the naturally reverent celebration of the EF Mass. It’s also easy to find in downtown Austin and parking on Sundays is pretty easy, too.

  2. My wife and I do this right now. There is a Catholic parish nearby our house which we call the “silent parish” (that is, you can literally hear a pin drop during the recitation of the Our Father). We go out of our way to drive twenty minutes from our home to attend a more active and vibrant parish on the other side of town. I’ve never had any regrets.

    We are lucky in that we live in an area with an overabundance of Catholic parishes (at least for now). I feel for families that live in rural areas with limited options in terms of parish choice. While I suppose driving for hours on Sundays is always an option, this can make it difficult to form a real sense of community with other parishioners, especially if you have small children.

    Perhaps some inspiration can be taken from what has gone on recently in the historically liberal diocese of Rochester, NY. When Bishop Clark announced that he was closing (virtually) all of the remaining Catholic elementary schools, a group of proactive lay people and religious founded their own independent Catholic elementary-middle school (St. John Bosco). Enrollment is up by nearly 400% since opening in 2009, with over 80 students currently enrolled. Efforts like this are difficult but not impossible.

  3. We drive past about six parish areas to get to St. Thomas the Apostle where things are done right and where our my Grandkids will be taught the faith. It is well worth it.

  4. Devin,

    Change is coming, albeit slowly. You might want to look at this:
    http://www.zenit.org/article-36355?l=english

    Also consider that now all areas are as badly hit. There are plenty of areas that are slowly recovering. My childhood parish, for instance quickly gutted all statues and signs of traditionalism, embraced liberalism, and support groups for divorced Catholics and parents to understand and support their gay children. In the last 5 years and left the building to rot. Recently the statues have returned, liberalism have stopped, as have those support groups in favour of the Legion of Mary, more traditional music, youth groups, Bible study groups and course on catechesis, as well as being able to raise enough funds to repair the building so it would not be torn down. It still wouldn’t be confused with Latin Mass or Eastern Catholic parish, but it is no longer a place where you have to struggle to be faithful.

    I wouldn’t be too worried about Hispanics leaving the faith…it’s too firmly ingrained in the culture. They may become cultural Catholics or even Protestants, but they will baptise their children and send then off to first communion at least. While the next generation is still here, there’s a chance to recover them.

    I also wouldn’t worry about a decline in the Church. As with the Protestant reformation, when Europe was losing massive number of Catholics, there was massive growth in the Americas. Today, every decline in the West has been compensated by growth in Africa and Asia. Cultural Catholicism and poor catechesis isn’t new to the Church (even among priests).

    As for your area, you can’t be discouraged. It’s actually an enormous opportunity. There’s an old saying among Evangelicals, Catholics make the best converts….they already love and trust God, all they need is the “Simple Gospel Message”. We need to learn from these sheep stealing Evangelicals. We must not abandon Cultural Catholics who don’t know any better to the wolves because we want to hide safe and warm and being smug that at least we’re not like those publican sinners.

    There’s a great hunger in the world, especially among Cultural Catholics who have had their birthright stolen. How could we not offer them the nourishment they need?

  5. We are lucky to live in a parish that has a TLM available to us. Of course, this is most likely due to the fact that the SSPX has a chapel just down the road.

    There are a lot of young folks at the Ovus Ordo and the Latin mass in our parish, which is nice, and they have a decent college ministry for the two universities in town.

    The parish has been consolidated from 4 parishes in the last decade. They closed 2 of the smaller churches (they made the 2 closed ones oratories). This is what I see happening all over the country. It is not such a bad thing, if we have a smaller, stronger, more orthodox Church. I pray that this is what we get, and there seem to be signs of hope here and there.

  6. I’ve seen you say negative things about the architecture at St. Alberts in Austin before, which I found surprising because I LOVE the architecture of that church.

    Another interesting thing about St. Alberts is the diversity of the congregation, which is greater than you see in most Catholic churches. Young people, old people, black people, Asian people. Lots of families. They recently started a Spanish language mass although it’s at an inconvenient time and I’ve not been to it.

    1. Jenni,

      You have a long memory, as I don’t remember saying anything negative about the architecture there for a long time, though you are right that I’m not a fan of it overall. That said, I do like certain aspects of the building and think they did a good job in places.

      Note however that the parishes I mention in this post are not St. Albert’s nor was St. Albert’s in my mind at all when I wrote it. I have many friends and family who go there and who have benefited from the many good programs they have, among other things.

  7. I wonder if the priest presiding the Mass was American or Hispanic… Usually, the Hispanic priests know what the Church has always been like and don’t care much about novelties and fads. I say this because, in my experience, since in the original country of many Hispanics they did not request the dispensation from Rome to receive the Precious Body in the hand, most Hispanics receive the Eucharist on the tongue.

    Moreover, I’d say that if a Catholic parish does not increase the number of Catholics but of cultural Catholics, then it’s not a Catholic parish. And it’s not only me, for the Holy See tracks if the bishops are doing their job passing on the faith by the number of baptisms and other sacraments. Of course, I and you will also have to give account on whether we raised Catholic children, but to a higher authority than the Holy See. So, by all means, it is of the utmost importance to be part of a parish that is unapologetically Catholic to help our children remain Catholic, the true mark of Catholic parents.

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