Mass attendance in the Denver Archdiocese is higher than that of the national average, shows a recent survey commissioned by the Denver Archdiocese. The survey also shows that a majority of Catholics in the archdiocese, 51 percent, are fervent or faithful in their belief. A total of 45 percent of local Catholics polled said they attended Mass in the prior week, compared to 32 percent nationally.
I don’t see how 51 percent can be fervent or faithful and have 45 percent attend mass the prior week. Unless you had a large percent of them being ill or having another valid excuse for having to miss Mass. But considering the false idea promulgated that missing Mass for other than a narrow list of valid reason is no longer gravely sinful. Can it be any surprise of lower Mass attendance rates when this false idea was never fervently refuted?
While the survey included a caution that Mass attendance can be overstated, the results are evidence that a much higher proportion of Catholics within the archdiocese are attending Mass compared to Catholics nationwide.
The study, conducted last fall by Boulder market research firm Core Insights, polled 834 self-identified Catholics living in the archdiocese and included 74 in-depth one-on-one interviews. The survey margin of error is 2.8 percent.
Using the most recent U.S. Census results, the study shows the total general population living in the geographic area of the archdiocese to be nearly 3.3 million people. The 2008 Archdiocesan Directory shows that 407,500 people are registered parishioners (figure from December 2006). A majority of those polled in the survey, 58 percent, said they were registered parishioners.
Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., said the survey was done to get more comprehensive information about the archdiocese than an annual Mass attendance survey, which is conducted every fall.
It is rather sad that the good news is that 45 percent of Catholics are going to Mass weekly – which surely is good news compared to the national average. Though it is also rather sad that our national rate of Mass attendance of 32% is a high watermark compared to much of the industrial world.
The main motivation given by those who said they “definitely” or “probably” would attend Mass, was “a desire to be in the presence of the Lord,” which was cited by 21 percent of the participants.
Experiencing a sense of community, hearing a good homily, and receiving the Eucharist are key factors contributing to Mass attendance, the survey reveals, with high majorities of those polled — 82, 74 and 65 percents respectively — saying they either somewhat, strongly or completely agreed with those statements.
A lesser majority of those polled, 55 percent, said they either somewhat, strongly, or completely agreed with the statement “prayer and spiritual reflection is a reasonable substitute for Mass.”
Well prayer and spiritual reflection are certainly not a reasonable substitution for Mass for those that are able to attend, but certainly they are preparations for entering into the Mass.
“The individuals who feel most stressed and time constrained feel they need to rest up and repair themselves by not attending Mass,” said Marc Miller, founder and chief strategist of Core Insights. Their view, he said, is “My faith will go on.”
However, people with this perspective usually know they are missing the Eucharist, the homily, and sense of friendship and community that come from public worship, said Miller.
This is one thing I have never understood about modern society is this feeling of time constraint and too little time. You would think with all of our "time saving gadgets" and the fact that most people are able to work a much less part of the day than was found in agrarian or other cultures that they can find no place for the typical one hour Mass on a Sunday. The irony is that those who feel the most stress might benefit all the by entering into the Mass and receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist.
Nearly half, 47 percent, said they feel the archdiocese is clear and consistent in communicating position on current issues.
Despite national and local coverage of sex abuse cases involving Catholic priests in the past, a clear majority of those polled expressed trust in the priests of the Denver Archdiocese. A majority, 57 percent, said they have a high level of trust in priests today.
“From the data, we know that there’s a strong belief and confidence in the Archdiocese of Denver that really stems from an understanding of what Archbishop Chaput is doing,” said Miller.
It would certainly seem that this is no fluke of higher Mass attendance under an Archbishop who is a very public Archbishop who truly leaves and teaches the Catholic faith and is willing to enter the public square to defend and protect the faithful.
Four broad groups were identified by the survey: the fervent, those who actively express and live their faith and support their parish and the archdiocese (29 percent); faithful followers, those who hold more traditional beliefs, are reverent and look to the Church for guidance (22 percent); under development, those who are uncomfortable with their personal spirituality, are seeking something more and need religious education (20 percent); and detached doubters, those who disagree with various Church teachings, are disengaged and seldom attend Mass (29 percent).
That most Catholics in the archdiocese are fervent or faithful in their beliefs is very positive, said Miller. Those who are less engaged with the Church, he noted, would benefit from additional religious formation.
We want to use this information as a platform for evangelization, said Archbishop Chaput. Both in terms of energizing those who are already Catholics but lukewarm in their practice, and reaching out to those who have no religious commitment.
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