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Well, mostly. The Catholic distaste for evangelization plays a role, but a huge part is just simple demographics – What I’ve been saying in the wake of all of these parish closings – smaller Catholic families, migration to the south and the Sunbelt.

Sarasota-area parishes struggling with growth

“We’re bursting at the seams here; we’re running out of space,” Organ said. “I don’t know of any pastor who wants to start a building fund, but with the growth, something needs to be done.”

It is a pattern across the region.

Fueled by migration from traditional Catholic strongholds such as Boston and Chicago and immigration from South and Central America, the number of registered Catholics in the Diocese of Venice has increased by about 20 percent since 2000. The figure is in sharp contrast to the church’s national growth of less than 2 percent.

“You can’t keep a lid on it; they just keep coming,” said Gail McGrath, director of communications for the diocese.

There are some silly statements in the piece, this one from a professor at Valpraiso, which is not, I note, located in the Sunbelt. Far from it.

Piehl said lay people are playing a more important role in parishes in the South both as paid employees and as volunteers. Also, archbishops or bishops are not the single dominant public figures here that they are in traditional Catholic areas.

“That creates an atmosphere that is welcoming to new folks in the way that the old traditional hierarchy wasn’t,” Piehl said.

Can we send the professor the webpages of 5 random Yankee or Midwestern parishes and let him count the lay staff? Is it any different than it is in the south? No. Catholic churches were busting at the seems in the Midwest and North fifty years ago, under that "old traditional" hierarchical model (????) – but wait…I thought people didn’t feel welcome in that model?

No…it would be useful someday if someone writing a piece like this would compare, say, public school decline and growth in various areas to the Church. As is the case with the Church, public school growth in Florida is phenomenal – when I lived in Lakeland, there were at least two public high schools in Tampa that had gone to running double shifts of classes for two different student bodies. I guess in the north they don’t have principals or something.

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