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It’s all demographics

posted by awelborn

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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Susan Peterson

posted September 9, 2005 at 11:53 am


Air conditioning; without it, all those folks would still be up north.
SFP



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MrsDarwin

posted September 9, 2005 at 12:26 pm


Believe me, even with air conditioning I wish I were back up north…



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MrsDarwin

posted September 9, 2005 at 12:28 pm


Believe me, even with air conditioning I wish I were back up north…



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Patrick Rothwell

posted September 9, 2005 at 12:50 pm


But it gets dark really early in the winter in Boston, right?



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Kevin

posted September 9, 2005 at 1:48 pm


An interesting sidenote: I live in Florida and have noticed the enormous number of northern Catholics who convert to evangelical/charismatic churches when they move here. I was stunned when I moved to Daytona Beach by the large numbers of ex-Catholics in these churches.



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DarwinCatholic

posted September 9, 2005 at 2:25 pm


We do seem to be on the receiving end of Catholic immigration down here in Texas. I’m just a horizontal move (CA to TX) but many of our friends out here are from MI or elsewhere in the northern midwest.



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Rich Leonardi

posted September 9, 2005 at 2:40 pm


NEWSFLASH Professor Piehl:
The “old” hierarchy still exists and will do so long as the Church retains her first mark. In fact it was presumably his favorite council that called this hierarchy a gift (LG 21).



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Christine

posted September 9, 2005 at 2:46 pm


I’m assuming that Professor Piehl may be Lutheran, as is Valparaiso, and he sounds a wee bit defensive to me.
Lighten up, Prof!



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sharon d.

posted September 9, 2005 at 3:05 pm


MrsDarwin,
After two years in upstate New York (for my sins), I swore that if I ever were to get back home to Austin, I would never again complain about the heat. At least you can put the kids in the car and *go* somewhere, without waiting for the snowplows to come through. There are worse places than Central Texas, especially now that August is over.
Of course, after two years of the Diocese of Albany, I also swore I’d never complain about my parish ever again…



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Laura

posted September 9, 2005 at 3:47 pm


I’ve lived in Sarasota for the last 15 years (and 15 more in other parts of FL)…we’re having a tremendous real estate boom down here that doesn’t seem to be stopping or slowing down, thus the growth. Also, as the senior citizen population increases in the US…so will FL’s growth since so many come down here. Retirees tend to have a lot more time to serve as lay volunteers. The article does mention “quality of life” issues…this can have good and not-so-good implications (i.e., Schiavo).



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Maureen

posted September 9, 2005 at 4:48 pm


Kevin said:
“An interesting sidenote: I live in Florida and have noticed the enormous number of northern Catholics who convert to evangelical/charismatic churches when they move here.”
Yeah, one of my cousins did that. I fail to understand it. I mean, he lived right down the hill from the parish church up north, went to parochial school forever, his parents were big into church stuff, and so was he. But all of a sudden he’s all “I never read the Bible before” and “church is boring” and then he marries and divorces this lady from his new church, too. All I can figure is hidden bad education plus lonely down South, with maybe some rebellion thrown in.
But I still don’t get this idea of church as primarily a socialization thing. I’m there to see and eat God, and to learn something. Any socialization which takes place with other people is an afterthought. A nice afterthought, but I gotta go to church whether I like them or not. And I can read the Bible whether or not other people are.
And if I had friendly new buddies at work who just were pressuring me constantly to have me go to church and Bible study with them, I’d figure they really didn’t want me as a friend so much as a trophy. But of course, my cousin was used to being known by everyone and being popular from childhood on, whereas I was used to having good reason to suspect non-family members’ motives. I suppose this makes a difference in sales resistance.
But I still don’t understand it, because the Catholic church in his Florida town is one of the best parishes I’ve ever visited. I actually sorta wonder whether he ever actually went, before his conversion, because I’ve heard he slept in on Sunday mornings when he was staying with my grandmother, before he got his own apartment. So maybe he needed something exciting and social enough to make him get up on Sunday morning and stick around half the afternoon.
(I would probably have better answers for these questions if my mother hadn’t admonished me so fearsomely not to be nosy every time we’ve gone down to Florida. But heck, I am nosy. Just not nosy enough to ask sensitive questions over the phone, I guess.)



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Der Tommissar

posted September 9, 2005 at 5:06 pm


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?
And now all those people are retiring and moving to….heh, funny how that worked out.



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Jimmy Mac

posted September 9, 2005 at 5:24 pm


50 years ago much of the “busting at the seams” attendance was due to plain old fear. Knowlingly missing Mass on Sunday for “no good reason” = MORTAL SIN! Eternal damnation! Fires of hell! And, in smaller towns, the chance that you might get denounced by one of those crusty old Irish despotic priests.
Now the attendance might be smaller, but one can reasonably safely assume that those going do so because they want to rather then because they were told (and believed) that they were OBLIGED to go at the risk of their immortal souls. Participation wasn’t necessary, but attendance was.
And don’t tell me that wasn’t true: I live through it.



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Terry

posted September 9, 2005 at 5:50 pm


There should be a bump up in vocations from Florida dioceses with all the growth .



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Terry

posted September 9, 2005 at 5:51 pm


There should be an increase in vocations in Florida dioceses with all the growth .



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LadyHatton

posted September 9, 2005 at 5:58 pm


So we can miss mass on Sunday now without worrying whether it is a sin? I only have to go if I FEEL like it? Just checking….



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Veronica

posted September 9, 2005 at 6:12 pm


“50 years ago much of the “busting at the seams” attendance was due to plain old fear. Knowlingly missing Mass on Sunday for “no good reason” = MORTAL SIN! Eternal damnation! Fires of hell! And, in smaller towns, the chance that you might get denounced by one of those crusty old Irish despotic priests.”
Oh, how true. The nuns at school when I was a kid (some odd 20+ years ago) all told me the exact same thing. Evangelization by fear, is what I call it. I was scared silly of missing mass, though I honestly did NOT pay any attention to it, or even cared about what the priest was saying. It was an obligation, period.
Frankly, being at mass and not paying absolutely any attention whatsoever, and missing mass on purpose, both amount to the same thing, in my opinion.
“So we can miss mass on Sunday now without worrying whether it is a sin? I only have to go if I FEEL like it?”
Of course not. Missing mass on purpose is still a sin, but not a mortal one, to my knowledge.



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DarwinCatholic

posted September 9, 2005 at 7:07 pm


Actually, so far as I am aware, missing mass with full intent and without compelling reason is _still_ considered a mortal sin. It’s just that people don’t worry about mortal sin like they used to…
Plus, to be honest, so many Catholics these days are so ignorant about such things, that you couldn’t really make the case that they’re doing so with “full intent”. You can’t commit a mortal sin without knowing it.



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Charles A.

posted September 9, 2005 at 8:12 pm


When oh when are the ‘Catholic repression fear and guilt’ graybeards/grayheads gonna give it up/die off….??
I also know Catholics of that generation who went through the same experiences and the strength and fortitude they have – and that they attribute to their faith – are amazing.
But then perhaps the folks I’m referring to didn’t buy in fully and consciously to the sexual revolution of the 60s but stayed committed to ‘old-fashioned’ ideas of chastity.
Someone once said take any dissenter or hater of the bad old Catholic days and you find a pelvic issue….



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Fr. Shawn O'Neal

posted September 9, 2005 at 8:14 pm


How many of those transplants will try to replant in western NC. At the rate things are going these days, Jeb Bush will probably want to annex all of NC west of Asheville. You’d lose count of the Florida plates around here in July.
Hey, pastors in Venice! Don’t crank up building funds because I’m going to need their building-fund-giving potential where I am.



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jane

posted September 9, 2005 at 8:16 pm


After having taught CCD and baptismal preparation for years it is obvious that sin is not really part of the equation too much any more. Children and adults alike often tell me that they are a “good person” and don’t really sin. The whole framework and reference point of the ten commandments is not really applicable to them. When I inform them that missing Sunday mass constitutes a mortal sin, they really don’t seem the least bit fazed. So many people of my generation (40’s) are largely ignorant of their faith. The rules don’t really apply to them.
But I was one of them 15 years ago when I had an experience of Christ, a moment of great grace. After I commited myself to Him, I reverted to the faith of my childhood. I was so thirsty to know about this church I had ignored for so long. I saw God the Father’s loving hand in all the Church’s teachings.
The power of prayer and yearning for and working toward personal holiness is so very imporatant. That is a major conduit by which God gives the gift of conversion.
Perhaps a bit off topic …



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Terry

posted September 9, 2005 at 9:13 pm


This trend is obvious to the advantage of the well established evangelical protestant communities in the south. They will convert all of those non-practising catholics who were damaged by poor catechesis into practising Chirsitans (which is better than what they were previously). With the exception of Atlanta and a few other places much of the catholic church in the south and the sun-belt states are not as conservative as the rest of the environment and mirror their northern counterparts pretty well.



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Bonnie

posted September 10, 2005 at 12:24 am


“The Catholic distaste for evangelization”
Not when Catholics believed in Truth. Then, evangelization was a logical, integral aspect of faith and the church was vibrant rather than hollow. Any “distaste” is recent, imposed by careerists, distorters of the V2 documents (but anyone can read them and learn how duped they’ve been,) and not accepted by anyone who sincerely believes the Gospels. It is impossible to truly believe and not want to share it. Imposible.



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Richard

posted September 10, 2005 at 12:57 am


Charles A: “Someone once said take any dissenter or hater of the bad old Catholic days and you find a pelvic issue….”
Kinda’ makes sense when you consider that 98.5% of our catechesis centered around pelvic issues. What do you think made those “bad old Catholic days” bad?
Clue: it wasn’t just tuna casserole and/or mac & cheese every Friday and on the 14 Ember Days.



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EWD

posted September 10, 2005 at 1:35 am


“Clue: it wasn’t just tuna casserole and/or mac & cheese every Friday and on the 14 Ember Days.”
It is a testament to the abysmal ignorance of the faith by the faithful that not one in a thousand, I’ll bet, knows that meatless Fridays were never rescinded. We are still obligated to remember God’s mercy through Calvary by not eating meat on Friday UNLESS we choose another way to recall it, such as always visiting the elderly sick and shut-in on Friday or always working in a soup kitchen on Friday. That was all that was altered: we are given the option of memorializing Friday in another penitential way.



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Nancy

posted September 10, 2005 at 11:21 am


EWD
Can you cite authority for your statement?



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Valerie

posted September 10, 2005 at 12:34 pm


Amy,
Does that mean you were the same Amy Welborn who was a member of Feminists for Life in Florida? I remember an Amy Welborn who was in Lakeland when I was in Valrico–is that you?
I remember attending a nice Catholic–with air-conditioning–called St. Stephen’s I think. They had a cry room and I clearly remember our son, sweet as pie, at two and half, racing across the cry room and kicking another toddler’s football out of their hand (missing the face) and shouting ‘Goal!’
Nicest thing was the pastor–an Irish fellow who said anyone who had a problem with kids in church could find another church.
Valerie



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EWD

posted September 11, 2005 at 1:11 am


Nancy:
“Most Catholics think that Vatican II did away with the requirement of not eating meat on any Friday of the year. Most think it is now just Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent that we cannot eat meat.
This is what the new Code of Canon Law brought out in 1983 says about the matter:
Canon 1251
Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Canon Law still requires that Catholics not eat meat on Fridays!
Of course, most Episcopal Conferences have determined that, instead of abstaining from meat, Catholics may perform an act of penance of their choosing. But, do you ever remember to abstain from a particular food or do some other penance on Fridays? And, at any rate, the main rule is still to abstain from meat on Fridays, the performance of another penance instead is an optional alternative.
It’s very interesting to note that the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (the United States’ Episcopal Conference) is currently debating whether to rescind the determination and require all Catholics to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. The Bishops are considering that a return to meatless Fridays for all Catholics would be of benefit because:
It is an expression of one’s Catholicity; and
In reparation for the grave sin of abortion.”
http://www.catholic-pages.com/life/fridaymeat.asp



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Chris

posted September 11, 2005 at 11:18 am


Nancy, EWD,
Here is what our Episcopal Conference in the USA has decreed (in 1966) relative to this issue.
On Abstinence and Penance by NCCB in 1966.



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Nancy

posted September 11, 2005 at 11:30 am


And, at any rate, the main rule is still to abstain from meat on Fridays, the performance of another penance instead is an optional alternative.
This isn’t quite what the bishops seem to be saying in the 1966 document Chris cites, but it’s close.
As everyone here knows, this whole businees, along with the idea that we actually are sinners, has pretty much dropped off the radar screen.



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Chris

posted September 11, 2005 at 12:02 pm


For those posting who say missing Mass on Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation and not having a serious reason is not commiting mortal sin, I really hope you’re kidding …
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Sunday obligation
2180 The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.”117 “The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day.”118
2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.119  Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.

(emphasis mine)
About mortal sin, again from the CCC 1033:
To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”
To recap, you don’t necessarily go to hell if you commit mortal sin. You will go to hell if you die with an unrepented mortal sin on your soul.
It shouldn’t be a case of pre-Vatican II = justice/ post-Vatican II = mercy. It’s not either/or. It’s both.



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Chris

posted September 11, 2005 at 12:05 pm


Nancy,
Part of the reason Friday abstinence has been off the radar screen is that 99.99 percent of the laity never read the 1966 document. I suspect that percentage is similar among priests.
I happened onto the 1966 document in print form at a used book store booklet bin. When I searched for it online two years ago, it wasn’t there.
Your comment was specifically about sin. Very few have been paying attention to that, as well.



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Richard

posted September 11, 2005 at 12:08 pm


Speaking as a resident of the Diocese of Venice…
I would comment on this point by Kevin:
“An interesting sidenote: I live in Florida and have noticed the enormous number of northern Catholics who convert to evangelical/charismatic churches when they move here.
It pains me to say this, but given the state of much of the Church in Florida – especially the liturgy – it doesn’t surprise me.
There are great things happening in the Church throughout the Sunbelt. But for some reason Florida has gotten more than its share of milquetoast human material for its clergy and prelates. There are exceptions, to be sure. But on the whole I have not been impressed with what I have seen since I moved here a year ago. And that saddens me.
The growth in the Church is, nonetheless, explosive. And that’s because population gorwth in Florida is explosive. That’s really all there is to it.
Says Terry: With the exception of Atlanta and a few other places much of the catholic church in the south and the sun-belt states are not as conservative as the rest of the environment and mirror their northern counterparts pretty well.
No argument here at all.
Holy Father: Send us good bishops. Please.



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